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The Ultimate Guide: Before Accepting a Job Offer

July 14, 2017


It’s Ok to Take A Few Days to Think About It

While you should respond to an offer of employment in a timely manner, you shouldn't feel the pressure to make a decision on the spot without proper consideration. It’s perfectly normal to ask for a few days to finalize your decision. Even if the job offer satisfies everything you set out to achieve - you should still take the time to properly review it before committing yourself to it. Remember that the job offer is not final until you sign, and it is expected that you will come back and negotiate better terms regardless if the initial offer meets your minimum criteria or not. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always clarify them with the employer before inking the offer.


When you officially sign the offer, you will have no more wiggle room for negotiation so take a day or even two to think about the details. Don’t worry about your job offer running away. A company won’t send an offer to several candidates at the same time and hire whoever replies the fastest. It’s not a race.


It’s Ok to Turn Down an Offer

A job offer is just that, an offer. You are not obligated to accept an offer if you feel that it doesn't feel like a good fit or if the employer is unable to meet your terms. In fact, turning down an offer happens more often than you think. As long as you do so respectfully and in a timely manner, there are very few if any consequences to politely declining. 

Evaluate the Salary

You want to be paid what you are worth. Logically, the first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is to research how much a candidate with your experience and skill set is worth – in other words, how much does the job market value you at? Check out Understand Your Market Value if you are unclear about the concept.


If you have an idea of your market value, look at the job offer that’s currently on the table. How much are you being offered? How does this figure compare to your estimated market value? Is it significantly higher? Is it way below your estimate?


If the offer is somewhere close to your estimated market value, you can be confident that the employer is aligned with your own level of confidence in your abilities and experience and what you bring to their team. If you are happy with the offered salary, you can proceed to the next step. If the offer is slightly below your ask, don’t forget you can negotiate! For more information on this, check out 1 Thing Every Potential Employer Expects From You, and 5 Tips For Negotiating Your Salary.


If the offer is significantly higher than your estimate, stop to think about the reasons for such a high offer to ensure that they have not set expectations that you might not have the experience or abilities to meet - at least, not without leadership or guidance.Why such a high offer? Did you underestimate your own market value? Is it because the employer believes in your growth potential and trusts that you can handle the role? Can you realistically meet those expectations? The last thing you want to happen is to set yourself up for failure so DO consider the justification for an offer that exceeds your salary expectations before jumping onboard. 


What if the offer is significantly lower than your estimated market value? Think about the following. Did you overestimate yourself? Are you over-qualified for the role? Maybe you should be searching for a bigger role. Does the employer fully understand your qualifications? You may want to reach out to discuss your qualifications. Again, this is when you may want to exercise your negotiation skills with the employer to align expectations.

Understand the Terms and Conditions

You should never accept an offer without fully understanding the terms and conditions set out by the employer. Yes, there is a lot to read and it can often be quite dense and full of legal jargon. But don’t just skim through – read each line carefully and really think about what they mean. Hint: Some terms may have prolonged effects that carry on well beyond the termination of your contract. Look out for non-competition, conflict of interest and termination clauses. These clauses may restrict you from working for a competitor for a period of time after the termination of your current contract.


If you are having trouble with the terms or they are too complex, you should try to seek consult from a lawyer or someone familiar with employment contracts to ensure that you are not putting yourself in a disadvantageous position.


Your Work Schedule

You want to be clear about the expected work schedule before accepting the offer to avoid future scheduling conflicts. Your work schedule could be anything from on-call to a fixed Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. It doesn’t matter what kind of schedule it is; it is ideal to have the schedule written down as part of the terms and conditions and that you and the employer mutually agree upon it.


Your Responsibilities

What is the position about? What are your duties? What tasks are you responsible for? Again, you should go through your responsibilities thoroughly. You don’t want to agree to performing tasks that you did not sign up for as a result of not checking the job descriptions written out for you. It is, however, perfectly normal to be given more responsibilities after settling into the new position. In the case of major job description changes, you have the right to request from your employer a new contract to reflect the changes to make your role clear.


Your Benefits & Vacations

Don’t forget to look over the benefits and vacation section of your offer. This could include perks such as commute coverage, free gym membership, personal time off (PTO) days on top of your regular vacation allotment and more.