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How to Respond to a Job Offer in Any Situation 

 September 16, 2020

By  Marie

You’ve been on the hunt for a new job for a while, so receiving or anticipating receipt of a job offer is very exciting. But you may be wondering what is the most professional way to respond to a job offer?

As much as you may want to, you have to avoid screaming “YES YES YES” into the phone when a job offer is presented to you. 

A job offer is a business proposal. You should treat it like any other business proposal - with cool, calm professionalism.  

You need to make sure to understand every aspect of the job offer before you respond. 

In order to do so, you need time.

So, let’s discuss how to respond to a job offer for the most common situations that arise when being offered a job.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. If you do use these links, thank you.



How to respond to a job offer without accepting?

As I mentioned above, you should never accept a job offer when it is first presented to you. 

This is a big decision and you need time to review the information.

Most likely, the job offer will first be presented to you over the phone. 

So how do you respond to a job offer over the phone?

Here are the points you need to hit on in your response to a job offer over the phone:

  • Express gratitude for the offer
  • Let the employer know that you are excited about potentially working for them
  • Ask any questions you have about the offer (e.g. benefits, bonus structure, start date, etc.)
  • Share your initial, high-level thoughts on the offer
  • Request the complete offer, with all details, to be sent in an e-mail
  • Ask to schedule a follow up call in 2-3 days so you have time to review the offer and make a decision

People often feel pressure to make a decision on the spot. You absolutely shouldn't.

Use the call where you are presented a job offer to understand what you are being offered in it's entirety, and to set up a follow-up after you have time to review the details in writing.

How to Respond to a Job Offer with Questions

You should ask questions about the job offer over the phone immediately after expressing gratitude and excitement.

 When asking questions about the offer, here are a few good ones you should consider asking:

  • Does the company offer health benefits? If so, could you tell me more about what type of health coverage is provided? Is an HSA offered?
  • Does the company offer a 401k? If so, is there a 401k match provided by the company?
  • Is there a bonus? If so, how is the bonus determined (e.g. individual performance, company performance, a mix)?
  • What is the vacation policy?
  • What is the desired start date?
  • [For public companies] Does the company offer an employee stock purchase program?
  • [For start ups] Are there any stock options included with the offer?
  • [If you are interested in doing school part-time while employed] Are there any tuition benefits provided by the company?

Keep in mind, many of these are for mid- to large- organizations, as small businesses do not typically offer many of these (with the exception of health benefits). 

Dialogue to Initially Respond to a Job Offer Over the Phone

Below is a dialogues that you can use to make sure to hit on the points covered above.

Thank you so much for the job offer and the opportunity to work for [company name]. I am very excited about the potential to work with [company name] as I was very impressed with the team and organization.


I did have a few questions regarding the entire compensation package.


Could you tell me more about [job offer topic]?


My initial thoughts are that the salary is within/no within the range we previously discussed, but I will need to review the compensation package as a whole in more detail.


Could you please send me the full offer details by e-mail? 


I’d like a few days to review the details and make a decision. Can we set up a time on [date 2-3 days away] to touch base again?

This is the most reasonable and common approach which employers are used to. 

You should never mention any other interviews or job applications that you are waiting on.

This would signal that the employer that just gave you a job offer is not your first choice.

Even if this is the case, you should not risk the real job offer that is already on the table by disclosing this information. 

Remember, an employer can rescind a job offer at anytime for any reason.


Receiving an Offer While Waiting to Hear from Other Companies

Once you have the job offer in writing, reach out to the other companies that you have already interviewed with and are waiting on a response from.

Let them know that you have received a job offer and the date you agreed to provide a response on.

This usually puts the pressure on these employers to make a decision. 

If they are interested in hiring you, they will put an offer together quickly enough for you to choose between the two.

If you do not hear from them, or they do not provide you an offer by the deadline, it is safe to assume that they will not be extending you a job offer.

How do you respond to a job offer when you have other interviews scheduled?

This is when it gets difficult, I won’t lie.

You will need to make a decision on the job offer you do have without a firm knowledge of whether you will get any job offers from these other interview. Or if they would be good job offers.

I will not say that you ALWAYS need to accept the job offer you have in hand, because you do not. 

There are a number of factors you need to evaluate in this situation:

  • How competitive is the job offer you have in terms of compensation?
  • How do the roles and organizations (offered vs. interview scheduled) compared?
  • Consider the position: the organization's reputation, what you know about the work involved, the culture of each company, etc.
  • How long have you been job searching?
  • How competitive is your industry and role?

In general, if you have a job offer from a good company that you enjoyed interviewing with and the compensation package is fair then it’s USUALLY the right decision to accept that offer.

Download a pack of 5 FREE modern and professional Resume Templates 

I have declined offers without another one to accept.

As a recent undergrad, I was job searching for 5 months. 

I received an offer from a small startup company for an entry level position. The compensation was on the lower end (but within market value) and in a very high cost of living area.

The start up was spun out of a previous start up, which failed. They were applying the same technology for a different use.

In the meantime, I had an interview set up with a Fortune 500 company for an entry level position.

The type of company that would make me a sought-after candidate in the future based on my experience at this company.

I was building up credit card debt as I was unemployed and my parents could not help me financially. 

But I also knew that I was VERY good at interviewing and had a lot of confidence of getting a job offer. Getting the interview was the hardest part for me at the time.

I took the very real risk of declining the job offer from the start up.

This could have gone horribly wrong, as I could have easily not received a job offer from the large company (I did) and spent some additional months unemployed.

But frankly, I was young. I had no dependents. I was confident in my skill set, had a competitive degree, and solid internships on my resume. 

I knew I would get employed and be able to pay off my debt.

It was the right decision, as that Fortune 500 company experience made me a very attractive candidate for my future opportunities. 

But it was a very HARD decision with a lot of RISK. It could have easily gone the other way and I would be unemployed for several more months. I knew this.

You should NEVER accept a job offer and go on other interviews.

You are very much risking your reputation in the industry. This will burn bridges with employers and individuals. 


When should you respond to a job offer?

You need to respond to the job offer on the date that you agreed to in the initial conversation.

There is really no situation where you should miss this date, especially as it is only 2-3 days after initially speaking to the employer.

I recommend that you ask to set up a follow up phone call on the date during your initial conversation. 

Ideally, you want to provide your response via phone rather than email as you will most likely be negotiating terms.


How to Accept a Job Offer

woman accepting job offer

If you are entirely satisfied with the job offer, it perfectly fine to just accept the job offer. 

You don’t ALWAYS need to negotiate a job offer. But vast majority of the time, you should.

Once you have settled on a job offer with the employer that you are happy with, it is very easy to accept a job offer.

I always recommend to first accept verbally, as it will allow you to better communicate your excitement about the job.

When you speak over the phone, you should discuss and agree upon a start date (if you haven’t already).

Once you have accepted verbally, as simple email will do the trick to put it in writing.

The easiest way is to sign the offer letter that you are agreeing to and attach it to your email.

Then simply use the following template:

Hello [HR rep name/recruiter],


I am happy to let you know that I am accepting the role of [position] at [company] on the terms previously provided.


Attached is a signed copy of the offer letter for your records.


As discussed, my start date will be [date]. I am very excited to begin my role with [company] and work with the team to [outline a strategic objective important to the business].


Please let me know when you are available to discuss next steps.


Thank you,

[name]

You've accepted a job offer! Congratulations! Now learn how to resign from your current position.


How to Response to a Job Offer and Negotiate Conditions

When does it make sense to not negotiate salary?

If the company comes in over your target salary range (which does happen), it wouldn’t make much sense to try to negotiate it higher.

If the company is under or within your target range, it makes sense to negotiate.

Remember, there are many other factors you can negotiate besides salary, including:

  • Bonus
  • Vacation time
  • Stop options [start up or mid-level positions at public companies]

There are many techniques to use when negotiating.

I highly recommend reading “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss and practice his techniques.

Start your negotiations on the first follow-up phone call you scheduled 2-3 days after receiving a job offer.

In general, when negotiating a salary you need to do the following make sure to frame your positoin around how you bring value to the organization.

The company needs to understand why the investment you are asking for (in your skills) is worth it to them.

Remember to make sure your salary request is within the market value for that role (the top-end range) by using Glassdoor, or a similar website.

Negotiating Inside Your Target Range Dialogue

“I wanted to first again express my gratitude to you and [organization] for the opportunity. The compensation package that has been offered is competitive.


After closely reviewing the complete details of the offer and role, I am requesting [proposed base salary]. Based on my research, this is the higher end of the market value for this position. 


I will bring a lot of value to [organization] through my skill set and experience. My ability to [outline experience/ability] will significantly accelerate the organization’s strategic objective of [outline a strategic objective the team is working towards]. Additionally, I will be able to apply [outline a unique skill set] which will translate to [the value it will bring to the company].


Therefore, based on this, [proposed salary] is an appropriate level of compensation for my experience in this role.”

Negotiating Under Your Target Range Dialogue

“I wanted to first again express my gratitude to you and [organization] for the opportunity. The compensation package that has been offered is below the target range we discussed.


After closely reviewing the complete details or the offer and role, I am requesting [proposed base salary]. Based on my research, this is the [mid- to higher end] of the market value for this position. 


I will bring a lot of value to [organization] through my skill set and experience. My ability to [outline experience/ability] will significantly accelerate the organization’s strategic objective of [outline a strategic objective the team is working towards]. Additionally, I will be able to apply [outline a unique skill set] which will translate to [the value it will bring to the company].


Therefore, based on this, [proposed salary] is an appropriate level of compensation for my experience in this role.”

The likely outcome will be that the HR rep/recruiter will need to follow up with the hiring manager and internal team regarding your counter.

Make sure to follow up via email, outlining your counter offer and the points you made, after you discuss verbally. 

Once an internal discussion occurs, the employer will likely come back with either an updated offer or they will stick to their guns. 

At that point, you will need to determine whether it is worth pursuing additional conversations to negotiate the package or make a decision to accept/decline the offer.


How to Decline a Job Offer

When declining a job offer, remain professional and respectful as always.

Both parties have invested a lot of time and resources into the recruiting and interviewing process, so it is always disappointing when it doesn’t work out.

It is always polite to provide a high level reason for why you are unable to accept the job offer, such as a lack of alignment on compensation or pursuing a different role.

Keep in mind “pursuing” does not mean accepting another offer. 

So you can use this reason if you are declining because you have other roles that you are more interested in (and have decided to take that risk).

Here is an email template you can use to decline a job offer.

Hello [HR rep/recruiter name],


I will am declining the job offer for [position] at [organization].


I have decided to pursue a different opportunity at this time, which is more aligned with my career goals.


[OR]


Unfortunately, we were unable to get aligned on [high-level reason negotiation well apart]. Due to this, I will be unable to accept the opportunity.


Thank you so much for your time and [organization]’s time during this process. 


Sincerely,

[name]


So those are all the details on how to respond to a job offer!

Have you ever declined a job offer without another one lined up? Tell me your stories below!

Check out these other articles for your job search:

How to Resign

How to Respond to a Rejection Email

How to Prepare for an Interview

How to Write an Interview Thank You Email

The Interview Question You Should Never Answer

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