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The moment you receive a job offer can be so exciting. It might feel like a relief if you really need a job. But don’t move too quickly to accept.
Take these steps to iron out the details of your new position.
First steps: Before you accept a job offer
1. Ask for time to consider the offer
You don’t have to accept a job offer immediately. In fact, it’s in your best interest that you don’t, says Kathryn Wieland, director of business career services at Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business.
“The most significant error that I see is that candidates are too hasty,” Wieland says.
Ask for time to consider the job offer and do any additional research. Taking one to three days before making your decision gives you a chance to check in with yourself about whether this is the right job for you. It also provides an opportunity to ensure you’re getting the best offer.
2. Seek out additional information
At this stage, you’ve successfully sold yourself as the best candidate, Wieland says. But do you have everything you need to decide if it’s the right position for you?
If you have lingering questions about the role or the company culture, Wieland suggests asking to meet with other employees at the company who could give you a different perspective than the hiring manager or recruiter.
This is also the time to clarify any information that isn’t spelled out in the offer, such as when you’d start the job or whether the company allows hybrid or remote work arrangements, Wieland says. Email the person who offered the job and politely request whatever extra information you need.
Also consider what information you’ll need to gather on your own, suggests the Princeton University Center for Career Development. For starters, compare salaries for the same job at other companies and calculate the cost of living for the area in which the job is located.
3. Negotiate the offer
If you want to take the job but some element of the offer would prevent you from accepting it, your next step is negotiating.
Career experts generally advise prioritizing the most important elements of the offer when you want to counter it. So be selective and don’t try to negotiate everything just for the sake of it.
Your first step is to clarify what you want to negotiate. While salary comes to mind most readily when talking about job offer negotiations, you also could request changes to other aspects of the offer. The Princeton career development center says other terms could be negotiable. For example:
Paid time off, including vacation days
Immigration support or work authorization
For each element you plan to negotiate, be prepared to explain why you want to make the change. Backing up your request with data will be your surest way to make your case, the Princeton career center says.
Once you’ve done your research, schedule a call to talk about the offer.
During the call, keep the conversation positive and professional. This is your chance to cooperate with the employer, Wieland says. They want you to take the job and you’re telling them what’s standing in your way.
Be gracious as you hear their response, whether they agree to your counter offer, turn you down or tell you they need time to review it internally.
You don’t need to give your answer right away if there’s new information to consider, according to several university career service offices. Before you end the call, agree on a timeline for delivering your decision about the job offer.
How to accept a job offer
4. Verbally accept the offer
When you’re ready to accept the job, send a note asking to set up another phone call. Big decisions like accepting a job offer are best communicated directly, rather than simply over an email, Wieland says.
On the phone, thank the hiring manager or recruiter for the opportunity and for being willing to make changes to the offer, if they accepted any aspects of your counter offer. You could reiterate the details to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Then, tell them you’re ready to accept the position. Follow up by asking them to outline your next steps.
5. Follow up with an email
After you’ve verbally accepted the offer, draft an email that seals the deal. According to the Columbia University Center for Career Education, your email should include the following elements:
Gratitude: Verbalizing your appreciation and enthusiasm for the job offer you’ve just accepted will go a long way in building rapport with the person who has worked hard to get you on board.
Terms of the offer: Spell out the terms of the offer you’re accepting in the email, especially those aspects of your counter offer that were accepted. This is your chance to make sure everyone is on the same page about the conditions of your job.
Lingering questions: For example, if you’ve been working with a recruiter, ask for your hiring manager’s contact information so you can reach out with questions or information ahead of your start date.
Final steps: What to do after you accept a job offer
Once you’ve accepted a job offer, turn your attention to transitioning into the new role. Here are three final steps to follow.
6. Bow out of other job searches
If you were interviewing for multiple jobs, it’s time to withdraw from the interview process, the Princeton career center says. Write a professional note telling the recruiter or hiring manager that you’ve accepted another position.
7. Give notice at your former employer
Now that you have a start date with a new gig, you can pick the end date at your old job and hand in your resignation. Ideally, you’ll give enough notice to finish projects or pass them off.
Two weeks’ notice is common across most industries, but you could give more or less, depending on your level of responsibility and how much time you have before your first day at your next job.
Sometimes, circumstances require you to quit a job without notice. While it’s not ideal, try not to feel guilty about it. Stay professional and be clear with your former employer as you resign.
8. Stay in touch with your new employer
Ahead of your start date, your new employer may have paperwork for you to fill out or other tasks related to onboarding you should be available for. Respond to any requests promptly and professionally.
Job offer acceptance email example
Here’s an example showing one way you could write an email accepting a job offer.
It was great talking with you. Thank you for sending over the written offer and discussing the details with me. I’d like to formally accept your offer for the Associate Accountant position at Great Accountants.
As we discussed, my starting annual salary will be $54,200, with three weeks of paid vacation and 15 holidays. I understand that my health, dental and vision plans will begin immediately on my start date, and I will be eligible for a 401(k) retirement account with 100% matching up to 4% after 30 days.
I’m excited to join the team in three weeks, on Dec. 1. Please let me know if you have any paperwork or other onboarding documents for me to review before then. You can reach me at this email address. You can also call me at 555-1234.
Thank you again for the opportunity.