One of the most common questions I get from job seekers is, “Should I accept a job offer on the spot?”
While accepting an offer immediately can be tempting, especially when you’re excited/relieved to finally have a new job opportunity, you should always wait a day or two to accept the offer instead of accepting on the spot.
Coming up, I’ll share why you should never accept a job offer immediately and the reasons why an employer may even think less of you for doing so.
There are multiple benefits to taking a couple of days before deciding to accept a position, which I’ll cover below.
You shouldn’t accept a job offer immediately because this deprives you of time to inspect the offer and decide if you have any questions, concerns, or requests you’d like to make.
If you quickly say “yes” to a job offer on the phone or in an interview, it’s NOT going to look good if you then go back with questions or requests after.
You’ve already accepted, and it’s too late to negotiate.
This is why you should wait to accept a job offer and not accept on the spot, even if you’re sure you want this job.
Although you’re sure you intend to take the job, you cannot possibly be sure that you won’t have a question or two about compensation, benefits, start date, or other factors.
The employer will view it much more positively if you take time to look over the offer and then negotiate or make requests before accepting.
And employers will respect you more for not accepting immediately so you’ll actually be starting the job on better terms with them (see the first point below for more about this).
Here are the main benefits of not accepting a job offer immediately…
The most in-demand job seekers with multiple job offers, or those who have been through multiple successful job searches, always ask for time to review a job offer before accepting.
So believe it or not, by accepting a job on the spot, you’re signaling to the employer that you’re inexperienced, desperate or both.
And you’re never going to lose a job offer by taking time to think, as long as you confirm a timeframe with the employer and come to an agreement (which I’ll show you how to do coming up in this article).
So if you want to start your new job with the employer’s respect, and with the hiring manager thinking they made the right choice in hiring you, then you should not accept the job offer on the spot.
There are other benefits to not accepting a job offer immediately, too, so let’s keep going…
It’s going to look bad if you accept a job offer and then return with questions to ask the employer.
You’ll look more professional if you get the job offer in writing, carefully review the information, and make sure you don’t need to ask any questions before accepting.
If you get the job offer in writing and take a day before accepting, you may realize that you have a question about a topic such as:
Whereas, if you rush to accept the offer, it’s not as easy to go back and ask these questions, and it doesn’t look good.
After you ask the employer for time to review your job offer, you’ll also be able to decide if you’d like to accept the offer as-is or negotiate.
You can negotiate base salary and bonuses, equity, a better health insurance plan, your job title, and much more.
But you lose your opportunity and power to negotiate if you accept a job offer immediately.
Imagine accepting a job offer and then finding out that everyone else in the job earns $10,000 more for the same work.
This is what can happen if you don’t review your offer, go do some salary research for a day or two, and then decide whether you want to negotiate or accept the offer right away.
One other benefit to asking the employer for a few days to review the offer letter: You can finish the interview process with another company if needed.
Your goal shouldn’t be to take the first job you’re offered. Your goal should be to accept the best offer and position for your career.
So by asking for a couple of days or up to a week to consider job offers, you’re increasing your chances of getting multiple offers to consider.
Then, you’ll have more leverage and confidence to negotiate with each company, and a higher chance of getting the maximum salary possible in your offer.
So this is yet another benefit to waiting to accept a job offer and resisting the urge to say yes immediately.
Joining a new company is a big deal. Even if you are 99% sure you want the job, it only benefits you to carefully read the offer letter, understand the benefits, review the salary, and more before giving your acceptance.
You can only change companies so many times in a span of a few years before employers start to ask why you’ve moved so often.
So with each change, you should take time to think (and talk to your family if necessary) about all of the details involved.
Once you give your response, you’re going to have trouble (and look bad) trying to negotiate later, and it’s going to look bad on your resume if you change jobs again just a few months later.
So it’s always worth reviewing the offer letter carefully, in writing, before jumping into a new job.
A hiring manager won’t be upset that you have a few questions. Good managers realize that you could go in a variety of different directions in your career and that accepting a job offer is an important decision.
They’ll be happy to respond and make sure you’re comfortable before joining their team.
They want to hire a person who will stay with the company for years ideally, and if that means answering some questions to ensure the details are clear, they’re happy to make that a part of the process.
For these reasons, you should never be afraid to get a job offer letter in writing and take a couple of days to respond.
In the next section, I’ll share an example of how to ask for time to consider a job offer, either at the end of your interview or any time you’re offered a position.
No reputable employer will withdraw a job offer simply because you asked for time to review the materials. They want you to read the offer closely and ensure you don’t have any questions before you give them your acceptance.
Many hiring managers will encourage you to look over the details and get back to them after a day or two.
Even if the hiring manager doesn’t explicitly say it, they expect you to take time to review everything and will be shocked if you accept on the spot without any further consideration.
Most experienced professionals do not accept a job offer immediately.
You never have to accept a job offer on the spot, and you will not lose job offers by asking for time to review the salary, benefits, and more.
And if the employer has any concerns about the timeframe you’ve requested, they’ll tell you and you can adjust that timeframe accordingly.
You now know the benefits of waiting to accept a job offer and the reasons that you should not accept a job offer immediately.
But what’s the right way to ask the company for time to review the job offer and details?
Here’s an example script you can use:
Thank you for the offer. I’m excited about the position. I always like to discuss important decisions with my family, and I’d like a chance to review the offer to make sure I don’t have questions, too. Would it be alright if I review the details at home and get back to you with an answer on <Date>?
This is a professional, polite, and risk-free way of asking the company if you can wait a few days before giving your acceptance or response.
The hiring team will almost always say “yes” as long as you’re asking for less than a week. And if they have a problem with your request, you’ll find out right away and can discuss it with them.
If you’re asking for more than a week to review the offer, you may be expected to give a more specific reason. So I recommend asking for less than one week.
Having questions or concerns about some of the areas above doesn’t mean you need to decline an offer from the employer. It just means that you’ll want to ask some clarifying questions before giving your acceptance.
But if you rush to give your acceptance immediately after finding out the news on the phone or in person, without going home to think, then you give up the opportunity to ask these questions.
And you give up the opportunity to research and then negotiate salary with this employer, which could cost you thousands of dollars or more.
No company will fault you for negotiating salary or benefits before accepting the job offer, and the company certainly won’t take your offer off the table.
As long as you express appreciation and enthusiasm for the job offer before negotiating, employers won’t take your questions or requests as a negative sign.
The worst answer you’ll hear is, “Sorry, we just don’t have the budget for that,” or, “We can’t do that unfortunately.”
But if you don’t ask, you won’t know what might have been acceptable!
Just ensure your request is reasonable. Before negotiating the specifics of a job, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Imagine someone came to you with this request, and think whether it sounds reasonable or odd/worrying.
For example, it may be odd if you receive a job offer and then ask if you can start in two months. When a company makes a job offer, they typically want the person to start as quickly as possible.
Companies post jobs because they have a need for help in that area.
But it wouldn’t hurt to ask:
Regarding the starting date, is there any flexibility? I have a vacation planned for <Date> and also was hoping to take one extra week to rest and prepare for the role.
Again, the worst you’ll hear in a response is, “Sorry, we can’t do that because ___.”
As another example, it may sound odd to ask for $20,000 in additional compensation without giving any reason for it. You’d want to back this request up with data and logical reasons.
So ideally, you’d express that you’d done some salary research and found out the averages in your city, then politely ask if there’s room in their budget to offer a bit higher in terms of base pay or bonuses.
Then, you could perhaps meet somewhere in the middle to find a number that’s acceptable. Basic negotiation.
If you read everything above, you know why you should never accept a job offer on the spot. Instead, thank the employer for the offer, go home and review the salary and other details, and then inform the employer of your decision approximately two to three days later.
If you do this, you’ll make a better impression on the employer and you’ll be sure that you’re moving in the right direction in your career.
You’ll also be confident that you understand the offer package in terms of compensation and other factors, so that you don’t have to face the uncomfortable situation of asking questions after accepting.
By asking politely and with a positive tone for time to review the offer, the business will know that you’re excited and appreciative of the offer, and they’ll understand that you simply want to review the salary and other job details thoroughly.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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