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Career Advice

How to Accept a Job Offer

You had an interview, made an impression, and now have an official job offer sitting in your inbox. Making it to the offer stage is a huge achievement in itself!

What happens next?

If you intend to accept, you have some thinking to do. Does the offer match your expectations? Is there something missing that you think you need? Can you spot any ambiguities in the offer that you need to iron out before signing on?

Before you write a letter of acceptance, use these tips to accept not only the job offer you receive but the job offer you need to grow your career.

What is a Job Offer Letter?

Whether you’re going for an internal promotion or a new position at a new company, you should receive a formal job offer in writing, usually from the hiring manager, HR or an agency serving as the company’s HR department. (If you don’t get a formal offer, you can always ask for one!)

A job offer letter presents details in writing, including:

  • Your title

  • Salary

  • Benefits packages, including annual leave, health insurance, pension contributions, stock ownership, etc.

  • Start date

  • Deadline for signing the contract

Tip: Don’t be the first to bring up your pay, whether it’s in an interview or elsewhere. If you can, always wait until the company provides the first written number. Not only will it put you on even footing with the hiring manager, but negotiating from the initial written offer is less tiresome because it’s concrete and already agreed internally.

How to Respond to Your New Job Offer

Getting a job offer is exhilarating at any stage in your career. The first job offer you get can make you feel like your heart is about to explode. And the experience only gets better. Each new rung you climb up the ladder in your industry can be more exciting than the one before.

Even still, you should respond to every job offer methodically and carefully, even when you know you’ll accept. An offer letter usually gives you a timeline for consideration, usually at least two or three days. 

Sometimes, the adrenaline of receiving an offer can overwhelm you in the immediate hours after getting the letter. That’s why it’s always smart to take a little bit of time to make sure you’re ready to sign the dotted line.

So what do you do next?

The first to-do item on your list is to thank the sender for the job offer by email or phone. 

Then, in the same email or phone call, let them know how long you need to think about the offer. If the offer comes with a deadline, let them know you’ll use some time to read the letter in-depth. If the deadline is too short, then ask for a few extra days.

Either way, it’s smart to think carefully about what’s in the letter and whether it grants you what you need to walk confidently into your new role and stay there.

If you think there’s something missing, then you have the option to go back to the hiring manager and negotiate.

Should You Always Negotiate a Job Offer?

The first thing you need to know is that offer and salary negotiations are part and parcel of hiring. If you negotiate in good faith, the company isn’t going to pull the offer. They want you to get what you need to do your job well and stick around.

There is nothing wrong with negotiating even a very, very good offer. Some employers even see it as a strength: when you negotiate, you signal that you’ve thought a lot about what you want, what you need, and what you bring to the company. Though, not every company sees it this way.

So when should you and shouldn’t you negotiate?

You should negotiate in cases where you don’t think the offer matches the value you will add to the organisation. This looks different in every role and industry. But if you can already see yourself back in the job market in six to twelve months, then it’s a sign you should negotiate your salary.

Is there ever a time not to negotiate your job offer?

Jenny Foss, a recruiter and career strategist in the U.S., suggests you skip negotiation when:

  • You already accepted and signed a job offer

  • The employer tells you this is their best offer

  • You don’t have evidence to support you

The only rule in negotiation is this: if you decide to negotiate your job offer, you should have a basis for your negotiation. Don’t negotiate for the sake of it. Come back with suggestions and have a reason (or better yet, evidence) to back up your claim.

How to Negotiate a Salary After an Offer Letter

The best place to begin a negotiation is from a place of thanks and gratitude for the offer. Remember that a hiring manager who wants you on your team also wants you to have a salary and package that is not only fair for you but will retain you. They don’t want to go back to the market in six to 18 months any more than you do.

To negotiate your salary (or other benefits) after an offer letter, you need to answer one big question: Does the total compensation package match your value and the value of the role? 

You’ll need to consider a wide range of factors, including your salary and your benefits, job responsibilities, location, and the potential room for growth in your career. These factors remain true both for applying for a new job or when weighing the potential of an internal promotion.

A calculated decision takes a few days, which is why it’s always smart to think about an offer, even if it looks great at first glance.

How do you figure all this out? You’ll do things like:

  • Do research on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc. to see what others in your field with your experience earn.

  • Discuss the offer with some trusted people in your network, like your UCD Professional Academy coursemates.

  • Head over to forums on Reddit, LinkedIn, or other places to read about other people’s experiences or even ask a question. (But take anything you get with a pinch of salt!)

  • Chat to your mentor or career coach for a balanced, high-level perspective.

Remember: Just like your career, salary changes aren’t always linear, particularly in the private job market. It’s not uncommon to see your salary go up and down as you progress in your career. After all, your salary isn’t necessarily a reflection of your success or future potential. 

For example, you might take a role that pays as much as €10,000 less than your last role. But the new job may be with a smaller company giving you more ownership over projects or even a company with a culture you identify with more strongly. 

You could come out of it with skills and experience that could see your next salary jump by up to 50%, compared to taking a position with higher pay but more hierarchy and less responsibility.

4 Top Tips for Salary and Benefits Negotiations

Negotiating is an art and a science, and it’s something you can only get better at with practice. Even still, there are some tips to help you make the process as productive as possible!

Some of the best tips we’ve heard include:

  • Think about what can be negotiated beyond salary and prioritise based on your goals and needs.

  • Is salary the most important in your career? There’s more to work than base compensation. For some people, they’d rather have flexibility, remote working, time off, and career development investment than a top-of-market salary.

  • Negotiate the whole package at once for timeliness. In other words, avoid going back and forth on pay then annual leave then other benefits. Submit your counter-offer up front in its entirety, where you can.

  • Want a higher salary? Consider submitting a salary range, with the bottom being something you’re comfortable with and the top being a possible but generous figure. Be prepared to back up your ask with figures based on your experience, past success, and industry norms

  • You can frame this conversation around equity-based fairness, equality-based fairness, or needs-based fairness, as discussed by Rebecca Anderson, a career coach and educator at the University of California Berkeley.

  • If they don’t budge on the offer, ask them how they came up with the number. Even if you can’t take the offer, it will better illuminate the decision making process

How to Tell Your Boss You’re Leaving for a New Job

Are you leaving your current job for the new offer? It’s time to tell your current employer about your plans. However, you should traditionally only do so once you have signed your formal job offer. Until you agree to a job offer, you don’t yet formally have a job, even if it’s ‘all but yours.’

Once you accept your offer, your first stop is the company handbook or your contract. These documents will usually stipulate the amount of notice you need to provide. In Ireland, if you’ve been working with your employer for at least 13 weeks, then you need to give one week. Your handbook may also dictate who you should speak to when you decide to leave.

In most cases, an exit means scheduling a meeting with your direct supervisor or the HR department (in some cases both) and writing a formal statement stating that you intend to leave and providing your exit date.

In your meeting, you’ll want to:

  • Inform your boss that you have accepted a new job

  • Provide your last day

  • Share project updates and statuses (if necessary)

Should you provide a reason for leaving to your boss? The decision is often highly personal. There are cases where you may have a strong relationship and want to share your reasons. You may also want to share if you want to keep the door to the relationship open and return to work there some day.

If you do share, keep it constructive and practical. You might such as the chance for a new opportunity to grow or a challenge to help develop your skills. You can also share your choice to pursue benefits unavailable to you in your current role. Providing your reason for leaving will help you not only leave on positive terms but it can help your current employer work on their own retention and benefits program.

Walk Confidently into Your Next Role

Accepting a job offer never grows old. Every job is an opportunity to grow as a professional and make real change for your colleagues and community. At the same time, you should always take time to think about the written offer: if it doesn’t offer everything you need to walk confidently into your next role, have a conversation about it!

Negotiating a job offer is a skill, and you’ll improve over time. The key is to always enter the negotiation with an understanding of your strengths and the value you provide to the company. When you can do that, you’re bound to have an illuminating conversation.