How to Negotiate, Accept, or Decline a Job Offer
Have you recently been offered a job? Whether it’s the job of your dreams or something you’ll likely turn down, you may be wondering how to proceed. After all, most industries are small worlds. Regardless of whether you intend to accept the job, you’ll want to conduct yourself in a way that won’t come back to haunt you later.
What to Do When You Get a Job Offer
When you receive a job offer, you typically don't want to say "yes" and take the job on the spot. Even if you know you want the job, take the time to evaluate the job offer to be absolutely certain that the position is right for you. Then decide if the compensation package is reasonable.
If you don't think you want the job, there may be a good reason to decline the offer, but do take the time to evaluate and carefully consider it.
Skillfully negotiating a job offer can ultimately land you the job you want, and the salary and benefits you deserve.
Evaluate the Offer
When you are offered a position, express how pleased you are at having received the offer and reiterate your interest in the role. Then ask if there is a deadline by which you have to make your decision. Asking for a bit more time to mull the offer over is acceptable; however, do not put off the decision for too long, as the offer may be rescinded.
During this decision-making time evaluate the job offer:
- Be sure to take into account the entire compensation package (base salary, benefits, bonus structure, etc.)
- Consider the company’s perks, the travel that would be required for the role, commute time, the work hours, and the company culture.
If the job offer is conditional (for example, if you have to undergo certain screenings or background checks before the offer is official), be sure you know exactly what your responsibilities are in order to complete these requirements in a timely manner.
Does it ever make sense to accept a position when you have misgivings about the role? There isn't a conclusive right or wrong answer to this question, but there are times when it may be in your best interest to accept a less-than-ideal role, i.e. when securing employment is crucial due to a financial hardship, or when a position is viewed as a likely stepping-stone to a (better) future role.
Consider a Counteroffer
If the offer is not what you were hoping for, you may want to think about a counteroffer, or you may decide that this isn't the best position for you. Once you have decided whether to negotiate, accept, or reject the job offer, it's time to notify the company of your decision.
How to Negotiate a Job Offer
If you have evaluated the job and are interested in the position but feel the offer could be stronger, consider negotiating.
There are a number of steps you can take to effectively negotiate an unsatisfactory offer. First, research salaries for the job to get a sense of what you should be paid for this role. Think about what combination of salary and benefits would work for you – this will be your counteroffer. Then, send a counteroffer letter or email message to the hiring authority for review.
Keep in mind that, while you should negotiate for a fair salary and benefits package, you have to know when to stop negotiating and either accept the job offer or walk away. If you push too hard, the employer can withdraw a job offer.
Accept a Job Offer
You have found a job that you like and are happy with the compensation package. Congratulations!
Even if you accept the job over the phone or in person, you should still formalize your acceptance with a hard-copy acceptance letter. This letter provides you with a chance to confirm the details of the offer (including the salary, benefits, job title, and start date of employment); it also demonstrates your professionalism.
Decline a Job Offer
Even if you are desperately seeking employment, if you know a job isn't going to be a good fit for your career goals, it might make sense to decline the offer. There are many times when this might be the best course of action. Of course, a salary and benefits package that doesn’t offer what you need is a good reason to say no to a job (especially if you’ve already tried negotiating). Other reasons to decline an offer: if you feel that working with a particular boss would be unpleasant, if the company seems financially unstable, or if the organization has a high rate of employee turnover, you should think twice about accepting the position.
If you have evaluated a job offer and decided it is not right for you, decline the offer. A polite letter declining a job offer will help you maintain a positive relationship with the employer, which will be important if you ever apply for another position at the same company. In the letter, be sure to express your appreciation for the offer, and clearly state that you cannot accept the position. You should not go into detail about why you are not taking the job, especially if it is for reasons that might offend the employer (for example, if you disliked the supervisor or feel the company is financially unstable).
Withdrawing from Consideration
You might want to withdraw from consideration for a job before you have received an offer. Typically, you would do this after receiving an invitation for an interview but before you receive a job offer. You might withdraw from consideration if you decide the job (or the company) is absolutely not right for you, or if you receive and accept another job offer. Be sure to send a letter or email stating your withdrawal.
What if the Job Offer is Rescinded?
Unfortunately, sometimes job offers are either rescinded or put on hold. If a company withdraws an offer, there is little you can do about it legally. However, there are steps you can take to handle the situation, such as asking for your old job back, provided you had a good relationship with the employer. If the job offer is put on hold, there are ways that you can politely follow up while continuing your job search.
The Bottom Line
EVALUATE THE JOB OFFER:
Consider the compensation package, including benefits and perks. Think about aspects of the job like travel, hours, and company culture.
NEGOTIATE, IF NECESSARY:
If you like the job, but feel the compensation could be more competitive, consider negotiating the offer.
ACCEPT OR DECLINE WITH GRACE:
Be sure to send a letter formally accepting or declining the offer. Express your appreciation and thanks for the opportunity.