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The Dos and Don’ts for handling a Job Offer

You applied for a job, went through several rounds of interviews, had your references checked, and finally you receive a job offer from a company you really like. However, while you might want to celebrate and enjoy the moment, there are still a few things you need to do before celebrating.

Review all the details of the offer. It’s not only your new salary that matters, but also look at all the other benefits. Health Insurance is a critical benefit, but it also depends on what type of plan you are being offered. Co-pays and deductibles can significantly reduce your available salary and you want to know those upfront before accepting the offer. Sick time and vacation are critical to look at, too.

Another thing to consider is time. The moment you receive the offer the clock starts ticking. Employers like to have things wrapped up and signed quickly so that they can plan ahead. If you would not accept the offer, their number #2 candidate might be next and no employer likes to lose all potential finalists because the number #1 candidate took too long to decide and by that time the number #2 candidate got away. Keep communications going with the employer as soon as you have an offer on the table.

The Dos
– Express interest and show enthusiasm in the offer – especially if you are really interested in accepting an offer from this company
– Always thank the person who notified you about the offer
– Politely ask to see the offer in writing
– Always review the written offer and compare it to the verbally extended offer
– Make sure you are comfortable with all the important aspects of the offer before accepting
– Get back to the employer in a timely manner. They want to know if you are accepting
– Negotiating: Recognize it is collaboration and demonstrating empathy is important for the process to work
– Be likeable through-out the entire process

The Don’ts
– Do not accept the offer without seeing it in writing
– Be impolite or rude during the negotiations
– Do not accept the offer without reviewing the benefits, sick time, vacation time, 401K, and all other important aspects related to the opportunity
– Don’t appear to be greedy
– Don’t negotiate just to negotiate
– Do not give an ultimatum
– Do not play hard to get. Do not act disinterested – especially if you intent to accept the offer.
– Do not wait too long respond. Keep a steady stream of communication
– Do not feel pressured to accept the offer without having done your homework about the offer

Negotiating an offer after the initial offer is on the table is possible and most-likely to be expected. If you have get advice from a 3rd party, do it quickly. Also, be considerate with your requests. While most employers have some room to wiggle, some might not. Negotiating an offer can be a little bit like playing poker, keep that in mind. You can bluff, but eventually you have to put your cards on the table. Make sure not to lose your shirt – meaning, make sure not to let the overall offer get away. Sometimes it might be the better move to accept a mediocre offer if you really like the company and opportunity.

When negotiating an offer, do not only think salary money. Nowadays many offers come as a package and could include base salary, performance bonus, stock options, stock shares, and lots of benefits (paid health insurance premiums, extra vacation, and so on). Whatever is on the table is usually negotiable, but you might have to give up something here to gain something there.

When it comes to talking money, do not just throw out a number, but back it up with a story – meaning, why it is justified to pay you x number of dollars and not less. Again, keep in mind the inherent tension between being still likable and explaining why you deserve more without sounding greedy. Always make it clear that they can get you and that there are no huge roadblocks.

Identify where they are flexible and where they have little room to move. As an example, an employer in the public sector has less room to move on the money side of things, but should have no problems adjusting other parts of the offer (how about an additional week of vacation?).

Don’t pretend you have other offers if you do not have them. You might end up empty-handed. You do want to sound like you are in demand, but you also want to make the impression that you are playing fair. Lying is always risky during negotiations and I do not recommend to lie during negotiations. There are many ways to skin the cat without the need to lie.

Also, do not negotiate individual items. Always negotiate multiple issues simultaneously. You’re usually better off by proposing all your change request at once so that the other side knows what they are up against. This approach also allows them to be creative to satisfy your requests for change. As mentioned before, they might be limited with how much money they can pay, but offer additional vacation time or other soft benefits to make up for it and really present an attractive offer.

Negotiating a job offer can be very stressful and it is not easy. No one negotiation is the same and you never know how the person on the other side of the table reacts. I was negotiating an offer a while ago, but apparently, the HR person on the other side had a short fuse and kind of forced a decision – which backfired by me not accepting the offer. During the entire interview process that specific HR person acted almost rude and not very professional and after the fact I was not surprised. I probably should have reached out to the hiring manager personally, but I also did not want to make the impression I was trying to by-pass the HR representative. So, be on the lookout to make sure you are not letting an offer get away from if you really want to work for that specific company.

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