Salary negotiation

How to Accept a Job Offer - The templates and checklists you need

Congratulations! You got the job. Now what?

Congratulations! You got the job.

Now for the hard part: deciding whether to accept it or not. How should you assess the salary (and decide whether to negotiate) as well as the other perks? How should you pick your start date? How should you try to get a better deal? And what’s the best way to accept the offer to make a good impression?

In this post, we'll cover everything about how to evaluate, how to accept a job offer, and give you both verbal and written examples on how to accept a job offer gracefully.

Before You Say "Yes"...

Before you accept an offer - consider this - according to John Lees, author of The Success Code, “you have more leverage to shape your job description and improve your salary and benefits package right after you are made an offer than you do in your first two years of employment.” While it may be tempting to say "yes" to a team you fell in love with during the interview process and to schedule your start date, it's in your best interest to step back and think expansively about your goals, potential trade-offs in job satisfaction, development, and work-life balance.

Some hard and fast rules to always keep at the back of your head while you mull on your acceptance letter:

1. Ask for time to consider the offer letter

Even if you're sure you'll accept it, take a couple of days to consider all the terms - that includes straightforward things like salary, benefits, and clauses in your contract; but also less obvious things like job flexibility, professional development, and culture fit. It's important to make a holistic decision and also discuss your options with any family that is dependent on you.

2. It never hurts to negotiate your starting salary

Make sure you understand how tech compensation works, what your skills are worth, and how to negotiate. Most offers have some wiggle room you can take advantage of if you have enough data on what competitive pay looks like and if you ask politely and firmly. Remember to stay cheerful and positive in your communication with the recruiter and keep the relationship warm while you step away to review your options.

Use all the information you can get from the recruiter when they are making the offer to your advantage. During the job offer conversation, ask these questions explicitly to help you consider your counter-offer:

  • What is the job title and level?
  • What is the salary band for the role?
  • Can you help me understand what additional responsibilities are assigned to the next level up?

3. Talk about the responsibilities

Now's the time to compare how well the offer matches up against the responsibilities you’re being asked to take on. Before you accept a job offer, schedule a follow-up with the hiring manager and have a deep conversation about what success looks like within 100 days of employment, how much autonomy you'll get in the role, and what benchmarks you will be judged on. Waiting to have this conversation until after you accept the role is a massive mistake that almost always leads to a mismatch in expectations and, therefore, pay.

4. Inquire about benefits

We've all heard the stories in tech about unlimited vacation policies that are a joke at some companies because no one ever takes a day off. Do your research before you join - if culture fit is important to you (and it should be), call your network and speak with anyone you know who works there to ask what the culture is really like. If you truly know no one there - ask to speak with more future co-workers before you accept. Be inquisitive about benefits (how's the life insurance benefits?), culture (is the New York office good?), and get the scoop on your potential new employer.

5. Ask any final questions

Remember that once you sign an offer, it becomes a legally binding contract and it's final. So if there are terms that are unclear, schedule a phone call with the recruiter or an employment attorney to discuss those first. In tech, this is especially important in areas like IP assignments, so don't snooze on your contract, clear any issues prior to accepting the job.

If you do want to discuss any issues, be proactive by scheduling an appointment with the HR rep or recruiter who gave you the offer. These conversations are much more effective on the phone and help you build extra rapport if you choose to negotiate your salary later.

If you make an error and accept an offer you're not comfortable with, it will be hard to back out so take your time in addressing all questions, however small, upfront.

Acknowledge Verbally Before Accepting

In most cases, the recruiter will schedule a time to call you after the hiring committee has made a final decision. In the call, the recruiter will share the offer details and ask you to confirm verbally that you are off the market. Your job - implement the following steps:

1. Be grateful

Make sure the recruiter knows you're excited to join the team and grateful to them personally for their time and effort during the whole process. At the same time, be careful not to react to the salary quite yet - it can create the wrong impression with the recruiter and make negotiations with your new job hard later on.

"I am so excited about the team and I want to thank you personally for the time you've spent helping me during the interview process. You're one of the most capable recruiters I've worked with and it's been a pleasure."

2. Be inquisitive

As we discussed briefly before, this is an informational call. The time to accept or negotiate your offer is later, once you've had a chance to consider the details fully. Ask about the pay, benefits, terms, start date, and level.

"On today's call, it would be helpful for me if we went through the details of the offer and starting salary - can I ask you a few questions?"

3. Be gone

Seriously - get off the phone. Now that you've gotten the information you need, take time to think it through and do not make any commitments. You may be told you need to decide fast - push back politely. You may be told that there are other candidates and if you don't accept, they will be offered your role - that's likely not true and also super shady. In the interview process, the company has had all the leverage and called all the shots leading to the offer - now it's your turn. Make sure you have the recruiter's phone number since you'll be making the next step.

"Thank you for that information, I'd like to take some time and discuss this with my advisors as well as discuss notice with my current employer- I will take the initiative in scheduling a follow up with you as soon as possible. Again, I'd like to reiterate -I'm so grateful for this opportunity."

Don't Forget to Follow Up

Following the first call, you want to acknowledge the conversation in writing as well and confirm your offer of employment. At this time, you will likely have no written offer yet (that comes a bit later), and this email will serve as your written confirmation of what terms were discussed. Again, you want to be careful here not to accept the offer by mistake by writing an overly-enthusiastic note.

You should reiterate your excitement and gratitude about the company/team offering to bring you on, ask for the comp picture, and letting the recruiter know you will circle back once you've considered. If you're lucky, good recruiters proactively send you this.

Accept the Job Offer Formally in Writing

This marks the end of your job search

Once you've negotiated the numbers (check out this guide if you need help with this step), it's time to look at the legal terms and finalize your offer. With most tech jobs, this will happen in stages:

  • You and the recruiter will close the negotiation, which makes your acceptance official
  • You should follow up with an email confirming the negotiated terms
  • The recruiter will send you a DocuSign, or other document, to sign and return - this is the official offer
  • Once you sign, you will go through the background check

After the negotiation

Once you close the negotiation, follow up with a quick email to the recruiter:

Questions about offer terms

Once you get the legal offer, take some time to review the terms - this is not something the recruiter will discuss with you unless you ask and if a term is confusing, we recommend getting a bit of legal advice on your own. For executive offers - do not sign without an attorney.

Confirmation & start date clarification

Finally, when all is said and done, send a quick message confirming you've signed and acknowledged your start date. We always recommend sending the recruiter a small token of thanks (flowers or a bottle of wine) - making friends with recruiters is one of the best things you can do for your career.

The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide tax, legal, or investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation of any security by Candor, its employees and affiliates, or any third-party. Any expressions of opinion or assumptions are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results and the opinions presented herein should not be viewed as an indicator of future performance. Investing in securities involves risk. Loss of principal is possible.

Third-party data has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Candor does not receive compensation to promote or discuss any particular Company; however, Candor, its employees and affiliates, and/or its clients may hold positions in securities of the Companies discussed.