Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dos and Don’ts of Accepting a Job Offer

Congratulations – you’ve received a job offer! Before you accept, take a breath. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration before accepting a job offer.

How do I respond?
The first step is to express enthusiasm for the offer, in order to show the company that you are still interested in the position.

What if I need time to think it over?
It costs the company both time and money to recruit. You have already made it through the hiring process, and as long as you are cordial, an employer should be more than happy to give you the time. In order to receive more time, you may just ask if you may have more time to consider your options before coming to a final decision on the offer. You may want to discuss the details of the job to gain a better understanding of what is being offered to you.

What else do I need to consider?
The next crucial part of the process is to evaluate the offer.  There are two realms to focus on while you are assessing the offer: expenses, and personal and professional satisfaction. When evaluating expenses, you should consider how much money you will spend on commuting, as well as things like rent, utilities, child care, and other considerations. To calculate a monthly budget, use the Dollars and $ense feature on the New York CareerZone website.  

When considering the satisfaction you can receive from the new position, you will want to think about how this position fits into your long-term career goals. Can you be successful in this position?  Carefully consider the number of hours that you will be spending on the job, and what you may be giving up, if anything, when accepting the position. Lastly, you are going to want to determine if you will enjoy working for that company, by seeing if your values and way of thinking align with the company’s way.

Now that you have evaluated the offer, you next want to determine the minimum offer you are willing to accept, your bottom line. Now you are ready to negotiate, accept or decline.

Should I negotiate?
Negotiating can be difficult for many people, but know that as long as you remain respectful and courteous, most employers will not have an issue with negotiations.  If you view the negotiations as a competition, you are likely to come across as too pushy and will definitely not get what you want.

When negotiating salary, you are always going to want to start high and work towards a middle ground. This is commonly known as highballing; with this technique you are showing that you are willing to compromise to a fair and reasonable starting salary. When requesting a salary, it is important to present a range rather than a specific number. In order to determine a fair starting range you can use the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and type your job title into the search bar.  Once you find the position, you can look at salary information nationally as well as by region. It is also important to keep in mind that salary is not the only thing to negotiate. Benefits, such as vacation days, salary review, sick days, insurance coverage, and bonuses can also be brought to the table when negotiating.

When negotiating, it is also important to continue to sell yourself to the employer. You must justify every additional dollar or benefit you request by focusing on the employer’s needs. You have to make a claim as to how you are going to benefit the company and deserve the compensation that you are requesting.  The ability to articulate what you can bring to the table assures the employer that they are winning, too. Lastly, it is imperative that you remain confident throughout the negotiating process. Thus, you must remain mindful of both body language and speech patterns throughout the entire conversation.

If, after the negotiating process, you still have not received what you feel you deserve, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away.

What if I want to decline the offer?
When declining an offer, you want to make sure that you put it in writing. The letter should be sent in a timely fashion, due to the fact that you are not interested and are taking a potential position away from someone else. When most people decline an offer, it is because they have received a better offer given their goals and interests; this is the point that the letter should focus on. There is no need to include extensive details about the other position, just that there is another position which suits you more. There is also no need to go into details about what is wrong with the current position; you would not want to insult the employer. Below is an example of a letter with the intent to decline an offer.

900 Zebra Street
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(540) 555-9009

May 7, 2012

John Smith
Zebra Inc.
111 Zebra Rd.
Stony Brook, NY 11794

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you very much for offering me the position of Assistant to the Regional Manager at Zebra Inc. While I appreciate the challenging opportunity the position offers, I have been given another job offer which I believe more closely matches my current career goals and interests. Therefore, although it was a difficult decision, I must decline your generous offer. 

Once again, thank you for your consideration, and I appreciate all of your time. I wish you and Zebra Inc. continued success and I hope our paths will cross again in the future.
Best regards,
John Doe
John Doe
I think I'm ready to accept my offer!
When accepting an offer, whether it is without or with negotiations, make sure you completely understand what you are accepting.  Now that you have accepted an offer, you must stop searching. Continuing to search can ruin your already accepted offer by portraying yourself as a dishonest person with bad character.
Good Luck, and happy searching!
Erin Tully, Career Counseling Intern

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