Expert Advice: What to Do When You Get a Job Offer

Anita Bruzzese
by Anita Bruzzese   Career Advice Expert 
 
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Congratulations! After a lot of hard work, an employer has extended a job offer to you. But before you go out for a celebratory dinner, there’s more hard work ahead. Here’s what to do when you get a job offer:

1. Use your manners

What do when you get the offer? Well, first things first—say thank you. It sounds simple, but many job seekers forget this step, and it sets the wrong tone with the employer. If you decide to accept the offer, send thank-you emails to those who met with you during the interview stage, and note how much you appreciate the opportunity.

2. Get the offer in writing

A verbal offer is nice, but a job offer is only as strong as the paper it’s printed on. Most companies will send an offer letter once you accept the verbal offer, but don’t be shy about asking for one if you don’t receive it. You absolutely must sign on the dotted line of the hard copy offer to make everything official. Don’t take any action – such as resigning from your current job or announcing it on Facebook – until you have signed that agreement.

3. Don’t skip the benefits section

You may have paid a bit of attention when the employer discussed the company’s 401(k), but you only really remember the salary offer (and not much else). But your benefits are a big part of your overall compensation package – out-of-pocket health expenses can range from hundreds of dollars a year to thousands of dollars, depending on the plan.

The employer may have mentioned three weeks of vacation, a pay raise after 90 days, and a certain health plan, but you don’t see those items in your offer letter.

When you’re considering what to do when you get a job offer, don’t sign anything until you see all of your benefits, clearly laid out in writing.

And while we’re on the subject of what should be clearly spelled out in the written offer—make sure your start date is in there! The one that both you and the employer agreed to during the verbal offer acceptance stage.

4. Determine what’s what

You may be so excited that you don’t know what to do when you get the offer, so you just say “Okay!” to everything and believe things will work out for the best. This is the wrong way to start a new job. Ask to see a flow chart that shows exactly where you fit into the organization, alongside your immediate boss or department head, and your teammates. If no formal document exists, ask the hiring manager for information.

Also, make sure you have a point of contact set up if you accept the offer—a person at the company who you can stay in touch with about anything that might come up prior to day one on the job.

5. Understand objectives

If a position has been vacant for a long time, or the manager is short-staffed, there may be unrealistic expectations about what you can get done in your first several months in a job. Aim to get on the same page with your manager about your goals for the first month and the first quarter so there are no disappointments down the road.

6. Consider negotiating

More than half of workers – a whopping 56 percent – don’t negotiate for better pay, mostly because they feel uncomfortable asking for more money, or out of fear the employer won’t hire them. But it’s important to remember that you aren’t just negotiating better pay now, but possibly for your entire career.

If you accept the first thing that’s offered to you, then you’re stuck negotiating from that salary for the rest of your career. But what if you were to negotiate up another three percent to five percent? That sets you up for the rest of your career to command that much more.

To be honest, professionals are almost expected to submit a counteroffer with the tight labor market, so no employer is going to be surprised by your negotiations. You have more leverage to shape your job description and get a better salary or benefits right after you’re made an offer than you do in your first two years on the job.

Of course, you might be in a situation where the offer is perfect, and you’re totally happy with everything that’s laid out—compensation, benefits, etc. If this is the case, then don’t submit a counteroffer.

7. Read everything

Here’s a nightmare scenario: the conditions of the original offer letter weren’t included in your employment contract—but you unknowingly signed it anyway. Instead of assuming that the contract is worded properly, you need to stop and read it before you actually sign it. This cant’ be emphasized enough.

8. Take some time

Finally, give yourself time to think about what to do when you get a job offer. Make certain that you’re completely sure that it’s a good fit (most companies will give you a few days to think about it—take those days and do the thinking!). Listen to your gut if you have a bad feeling about the people, the company, or the integrity of the organization. If they try to push you into anything, that’s a sign that it may not be the right job for you. Hopefully, the advice laid out here has given you plenty to consider on what to do when you get the offer. Best of luck!

About the Author

Career Advice Expert

Anita Bruzzese Career Advice Expert

Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience, writing for such publications as USA Today, Shape Magazine, and Mashable. She is also the author of two career advice books, and has appeared on The Today Show as a career expert. Anita has been interviewed for O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Huffington Post. Visit her website at www.45things.com.

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