You Get the Offer…Now What?


Your resume stood out from the crowd. You were invited in for an interview. You aced the interview and of course followed up by sending thank you notes. The second interview went even better than the first. The call comes in; you’ve been offered the job. Now what?

There are plenty of great books out on how to compose a resume. Almost as many books and countless articles on how to master the interview. Yet no books on what to do once you get the job offer.

With an offer in hand, there are 3 options on how to proceed.

You can accept, reject or counter the job offer. Regardless of which of these 3 options you choose, you should do it in a timely manner. Once you have an offer, it is courtesy to respond in a reasonable amount of time. What is a reasonable amount of time? I suggest answering the offer in 2-3 business days. There will be exceptions at times if you are expecting or entertaining multiple offers, but it is generally not reasonable or realistic to ask for more than 5 business days to make a decision.

Now on to the 3 options:

ACCEPT THE JOB OFFER – Congratulations. This is the culmination of all of your efforts. By accepting you are agreeing to the terms of the offer. The next step is to solidify the start date and the rest of the details for your first day and transition.

REJECT THE JOB OFFER – There are times when it makes sense to outright reject an offer. If you have multiple offers, you will be rejecting all but the one you plan to accept. You may also reject if you feel the offer presented is not the right fit or the salary is well below market and there is no hope to bridge the gap. In either case, it is important to communicate the offer rejection as quickly as possible. This will allow the company to pursue other candidates. A quick rejection will also gain the respect of the company. In a close knit business community, it is important not to underestimate the importance of doing the right thing when you know you will not be accepting a position.

COUNTER THE JOB OFFER – This is the most complex and least straight forward of the three options. There are times when it makes perfect sense to compose a counter offer. Though salary is the reason for most counter offers, there may be other things to consider: start date, position title, office versus no office, and time frame for salary review can also be reasons to counter.

A counter offer is not without risks, so any counter offer should be well thought out. Make sure to be realistic as well. When you counter, you are in essence ripping up the employers offer and making your own. An employer can respond to a counter by accepting, reaffirming their existing offer, or rescinding their offer. In my experience, a realistic counter offer will likely be accepted. If a counter offer is accepted, both you and the employer have agreed to your terms and you will be considered hired.

There are times when an employer will simply say no to your counter and affirm the terms of the original offer. You again have the option of accepting or rejecting. The danger in making a counter offer is that the employer may rescind. This means they have taken their offer off the table and there will be no deal. Though rare, it can happen.

An employment counter offer is very different than a counter offer for real estate. When you buy or sell a house, you rarely ever see the person you are negotiating with again. When you negotiate your salary, you will be spending 5 days a week with the person you just negotiated with. Keep the requests realistic.

Another pitfall of the counter offer is that you relinquish control. The ball is now back in the employers court and you resume the position of waiting for a response.

Your recruiter will be a huge asset in helping to formulate the counter and guiding you through the process.