You’ve gotten a job offer, and now it’s time to evaluate it. You should congratulate yourself for getting this far in the process.
But remember, a company needs to know you’re just as excited about them as they are about you. You need to manage the relationship with your possible next employer correctly to solidify the relationship and for everyone to feel like this is the right decision.
When you’re at the point of getting an offer from a company, most hiring managers will assume a few things:
- You've discussed the opportunity with your family
- You've given the job serious consideration without knowing the exact package or contractual arrangement
- You want to work there
If fact, they assume this when you provide your references, even before they extend an offer. That's your cue to ask any pending questions about the job or the company. While your reference checks are in progress, that’s when you should to start considering the opportunity like you have an offer in hand.
Once you receive a job offer, many companies will expect a decision within two or three days, and more than a few will ask for an answer within 24 hours. Ask for more time, and you risk appearing uninterested or like you’re shopping the offer for something better.
However, it's completely reasonable to evaluate other opportunities when you receive an offer. Hiring managers understand a job seeker may have other opportunities on the table, but the timing might not always match up. It's best to be up front during the interview process about other opportunities if you’re asked (without providing specific details) so there are no surprises in the end.
The best practice is to assume once a company asks for your references that you’re a serious contender for the job and an offer is around the corner. Push to get through the interview process with other companies so when you do receive an offer, you can decide quickly without feeling like you’re rushed to tie up loose ends.
If you feel like you need more time to make a decision, here's how to handle it:
- Express your thanks and enthusiasm about the offer, then ask if it's okay if you take a certain amount of time to think it over. If the employer asks what you need to consider, it's best to be honest that you are considering another offer and feel like you need to see out the process before making a final decision. Again, expressing your enthusiasm and sticking to your promise to give an answer by a specific date is key.
- Make sure you have a viable reason. Buying more time to make a decision will make the company question interest level and your overall chances of accepting the offer, so if you ask, you should be prepared that the company may not grant you additional time and will instead continue with their search.
- Contact the other employers with whom you’re interviewing. Tell them you have an offer on the table, give them the date by when you provide make a decision, and ask if it’s possible to make a hiring decision by then. This should give you a good idea of where you stand. Some companies will push you through the process quickly and others simply can't move that fast.
- If the other opportunities can't meet your deadline, make a decision and stick with it.
- Regardless of whether you accept or decline the opportunity, do so gracefully. Never burn your bridges—you may end up wanting to work with or for that employer in the future.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.