You’ve achieved the Holy Grail of job search – the job offer. Congratulations!
You’ve worked hard, and it might be tempting to give an immediate “YES!” to that employer. However, no matter how desperate your situation might be – or how long your job search has been – always take the time to review a job offer before you sign that offer letter.
Here are 5 tips that will help you make sure saying “yes” is the right move for you:
Tip No. 1: Take Some Time
It is perfectly acceptable, even expected, to ask for some time to review the offer before you give a potential employer your final decision. If, for example, you receive a job offer on a Thursday or a Friday, tell them you need the weekend to look everything over. This will give you time to review the offer (see tip #2) and make sure it is truly right for you.
Don’t make the hiring manager wait more than a few business days for your answer, however, and do give them a concrete follow up time that you’ll contact them. This sets guidelines for everyone, so that they don’t think you’re uninterested and offer the job to another candidate.
Tip No. 2: Review the Entire Offer
When you receive a job offer, it’s tempting to focus on one particular detail: the compensation. You need to review the entire offer, however, from the benefits to the title, to the chain of command, to make sure it’s really a good fit for you and your career. For example, the salary may sound out of this world, until you realize that the benefits are less than what you expected and regular overtime is expected. Or maybe the title of the position sounds great, but you’ll be reporting to five different bosses.
Take the time to review the offer now, so there are no unexpected surprises when you start your new position.
Tip No. 3: Ask Questions
If there’s something you’re unsure about, now’s the time to ask questions. Let’s say, for example, your position is a completely new one within the company, and you’re not sure exactly what the expectations are and who you’ll be reporting to (and who might be reporting to you). Ask the hiring manager these questions now; it will make your job much easier down the road.
And, if you find out the expectations are different than what you gleaned from the offer letter, now’s the time to negotiate…
Tip No. 4: Negotiate
If there is something about the offer that’s not meeting your expectations, negotiate. Come back with another number and see if your potential employer can meet it. If they can’t give you the compensation you’re looking for but you still want the job, find a way to compromise: see if you can get flex time, additional vacation time, or a better title (which can lead to increased earning potential down the road.)
The important thing: negotiate your terms now, so that you can start your new job feeling good about yourself and your new company.
Tip No. 5: Plan a Timeline and Exit Strategy
As you contemplate accepting a new job offer, you also need to think about when you want to start working. If you’re unemployed, the answer is easy: ASAP. If you’re at another company, however, you need to think about how much time you need to make the transition. Two weeks is the standard amount of notice, but if you’re working in an upper-level management position, it’s respectful to give your current company longer, even up to a month.
If your new employer wants you to start sooner, you may have to negotiate between the two so that you don’t burn any bridges. You can offer to help your current company find your replacement through your networks, and also to be available on nights and weekends (for a limited basis) during the transition.
Lastly, don’t forget to add in some time off for yourself in between jobs. Leaving one company for another is an enormous change, and you’ll want at least a few days off in-between to mentally prepare yourself.
About the Author: Noël Rozny is former Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël is passionate about helping students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career right for them.