January 13, 2020

Is There A Proper Way To Handle An Offer Of Employment?

by Scot Dickerson

Is there a proper way to handle an offer of employment? While every situation is unique, there are definitely rules of thumb to follow to not only to handle with usual and customary etiquette, but also to position yourself in the best way possible.

If it is your dream job and checks every box and it’s being presented in writing, then by all means, accept. There is no reason not to given this scenario. But rarely do things line up so perfectly. So, if the scenario does not follow the above, here are the right steps to follow.

Often the offer is presented verbally. When this occurs, first and foremost regardless of your intent, be polite. Show your appreciation for having received the offer. Typically, every offer is going to be something you will want to give serious consideration to, so I will focus on those scenarios.

When the offer is presented, not only show appreciation for having received the offer, but also express interest and enthusiasm. Something along the lines of, “Thank you. I’m very excited about having the opportunity to have received this offer.”

Next you need to set up expectations. Unless otherwise stated by the employer, it is proper to give a response to an offer within 48 hours unless there are other circumstances that prevent this, which I will touch on shortly.  A good next step is to say something along the lines of, “I’d like to review all the information in the offer letter, as well as benefits information. I’d like to set up a call on (day & time) to go over any questions with you.”

It is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to review the information. What is important is to set up a day & time to cover any questions.  Don’t just say, “I’ll get back to you.”

Of course, this assumes the employer has or will be sending you the offer letter and benefits information after you receive the offer verbally. If everything looks good, then simply accept at your predetermined follow up.  If you have questions, this is the time to make your inquiry. If you are interested in countering on salary, be prepared to set the stage with not only logic for the request, but also your enthusiasm for working for them. Be prepared to tell them if they can get as close as possible to your counter, then you will accept the offer. Never request a counter and then decline if they meet your request.  A company is much more willing to go back to the table and sharpen their pencil if they know you are committed to moving forward, so this becomes important.

Let’s say that you are interviewing with another company, as well. If this is the case, it makes all the sense in the world to make the company presenting an offer aware of this other activity.  They will respect the fact that you are making them aware.  Again, it becomes important to set the stage.  Let them know you are only sharing this information to make them aware of your timeline and has nothing to do with trying to leverage the situation.  Any company would much rather wait to have you make a decision verse accepting their offer only to withdraw after you get a second offer.

Now this is not to say you can drag things out beyond a reasonable time frame.  You must be fair to the company presenting the first offer. In these scenarios, I see the rule of thumb as being no more than two weeks to be able to give your decision under those circumstances.

Final comments: Never burn bridges. Always leave things on a positive note if you end up declining.  In addition, never leave the employer hanging. When you’ve made your final decision, do it verbally, but also make sure it’s in writing.  You will likely be asked to sign an acceptance letter, but if you refuse the job, you should also follow up with a gracious email.


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