Job Offer

What Is a Job Offer?

A job offer is the formal offer of employment a company makes to you. Job offers can be verbal or written, although it is customary in many companies for a verbal offer made by a hiring manager to be followed by a written one, usually from the firm's human resources department. A written offer can be mailed, although it is becoming more common for companies to e-mail offers to job candidates to save time.

Job Offer

Formal job offers generally contain complete details of the offer of employment, which may include, among other things, a job title and description; salary information; and details on medical benefits, retirement plans, and paid time off. Job offers often come with an acceptance form attached. Signing and returning the acceptance form constitutes acceptance of the job offer and its terms.

When Should I Discuss Salary Requirements?

With any job offer, it is important to evaluate it carefully so you can make an educated decision to accept, reject, or counter the offer.

With any job offer, it is important to evaluate it carefully so you can make an educated decision to accept, reject, or counter the offer. ©ISTOCK.COM/SINSEEHO.

When you open a discussion of your salary requirements, the employer will often ask you about your compensation at your current or recent jobs. It is not necessary to reveal this information, and doing so can sometimes work against you. It is perfectly acceptable to respond to such queries by firmly stating the salary range you are looking for in a new position.

When Will I Get an Offer?

Job Offer

Most companies will conduct at least one round of interviews with qualified candidates before selecting someone to present with an offer. Often, the first round of interviews will be made to narrow the field, and then a second and sometimes even a third round of interviews will take place before a job offer is made.

The length of time it takes to conduct the hiring process varies considerably between companies. Depending on the urgency with which the position needs to be filled, the process may even vary within a single company. It is a good idea to inquire about this process during your initial interview so that you have a general idea of when you might expect to hear back. Some companies will let you know if an offer has been made to another candidate, while others only contact those to whom they are making an offer.

What Things Should I Consider When Reviewing an Offer?

Many job seekers see a job offer as the endpoint in their employment search. Unless it is vital that you begin working right away, however, it is unwise to accept an offer without thoroughly looking it over. There are a number of factors you should weigh when choosing whether to accept an offer, reject it, or propose a counteroffer.

Case Study: Anthony Receives a Job Offer

Since earning a certificate in paralegal studies, Anthony has been looking for work as a para-legal in his town. He has applied for many jobs and has gone on multiple interviews with a number of different companies. After an especially successful interview with the human resources (HR) manager and principal lawyers at a small law firm specializing in divorce and custody cases, he received an e-mail job offer from the HR manager for a part-time paralegal position.

Anthony is excited to have received an offer, but he is unsure about how to proceed. He is disappointed to have been offered only a part-time position and not full-time work; on the other hand, he is interested in divorce and custody law and would like to have the opportunity to work in that field. Unable to decide, he replies to the HR manager with a short note thanking her for the offer and asking for a few days to consider it. They schedule a follow-up interview for the end of the week.

To help make up his mind, Anthony conducts research online. He discovers that the wage he has been offered is very good for an entry-level and part-time paralegal position. He also researches the firm to find out more about the company's financial health, which he discovers is excellent. However, he is concerned that the job is not full time and that he has not been offered health insurance or other benefits. Anthony decides to present a counteroffer to the company.

During the follow-up interview, Anthony presents a case for why he would like to work full time for the firm. He also asks for two weeks of paid vacation time and a health insurance plan. The next day Anthony receives an edited counteroffer via e-mail for three-quarters time work and two weeks of paid vacation. However, they are unable to offer him health insurance. After taking time to think about the offer and discussing the offer with his family, Anthony decides that the new offer, while not perfect, is acceptable to him. He accepts the job. He then determines his start date at the new job with the HR manager and fills out the necessary hiring paperwork.

Job Offer

First, you should make sure that the offer is clear about all key details, particularly if the employer has already made a verbal offer. Everything you discussed previously should be present in the agreement. You should also make sure that the offer covers all major areas of concern to you, including not only your full compensation package but also your official title, job duties, reporting structure, work hours, and whether or not you will be able to work from home.

For applicants in sales or other areas that receive variable compensation, it is also important to verify that all details about compensation have been explained and confirmed. Compensation that will come from bonuses, stock options, and other nonsalary sources should be described completely. Before you accept an offer, you should make sure you understand how the company calculates these types of compensation and when and under what circumstances they are awarded. If questions remain, you should ask the hiring manager or human resources representative to clarify.

Finally, if you are going to be relocating for the new job, check to see what sort of relocation compensation the employer is offering. Many companies will pay for temporary housing and travel expenses. Some will also pay for moving services and for some or all of your real estate-related expenses. You can research these sorts of relocation packages online to see what is standard for your industry and position.

What If There Are Things I Do Not Like about the Offer?

When you receive an offer that is not to your satisfaction, you may choose to respond with a counteroffer or reject the offer entirely. If you choose to reject the offer, you should let the employer know in a timely manner so that other strong candidates can be contacted. Be sure to thank the hiring manager for the offer and for taking time to meet with you. Behaving in a professional manner is not only courteous, but it also may benefit you in the future should you apply for another job with the company.

Job Offer

If the job offer is attractive in many ways but falls short in one or two key areas, it is appropriate to respond with a counteroffer. You can make this counteroffer either verbally or in writing, depending on the situation. When making a counteroffer, be clear about the things that you like about the company's offer while also detailing the areas you would like to negotiate.

What Are Some Good Strategies for Negotiation?

Doing your research beforehand will enhance your chances of success in a job negotiation. First, it is wise to investigate the financial health of your prospective employer. You can do this by searching for news items about the company. If possible, you should also try to get a look at their latest earnings reports. This information may help you determine how flexible they will be about compensation packages. It is also helpful to know how long the job has been open. If the position has been difficult to fill, you may have a better chance to negotiate what you want. In addition, you should make sure you know how much your particular skill set is worth and what others in your field and position are being paid. A good source for this type of information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website ( ).

When negotiating, it is a good idea to consider things in addition to salary. While studies suggest that many employers often have a modest amount of wiggle room in the area of yearly compensation, others may not, especially those in the nonprofit sector. Even if salary is nonnegotiable, you may be able to negotiate your other benefits, such as paid time off. You can also sometimes get perks such as paid parking, which can be a substantial benefit in an urban area where daily parking rates are high.

Job Offer

Some experts advise that when you are negotiating multiple items, you present them all together rather than introducing and negotiating one at a time. The advantage to this strategy is that your prospective employer will have a realistic picture of what you want from the beginning, which can create goodwill by streamlining the conversation. When addressing multiple issues at the same time, you should take care to emphasize which items on the list are of most importance to you.

Finally, you should avoid negotiating just for the sake of negotiating. While it is good to let an employer know that you are aware of your value, it is unnecessary and even counterproductive to haggle over each detail of a job offer. You should certainly fight for things that matter most, especially if there is a large gap between what you want and what is being offered, but it also important to choose your battles. Fighting for small adjustments in the offer's terms can give the impression that you are petty and may be difficult to work with in the future. Likeability is an important factor both in getting a job and in advancing once you are in the door.

What Else Should I Know Before I Accept an Offer?

A consultation with a lawyer is often a worthwhile investment when considering a job offer. A local attorney will be familiar with the laws in your area and can make sure that the offer you are receiving complies with them. Fees for this service are generally affordable as it takes relatively little time for an attorney versed in employment law to review an offer. An attorney can be especially valuable when facing noncompete restrictions in your offer, which will affect where, how, and when you can work should you leave the company. These terms may be negotiable, and an attorney can give you insight about getting them reworked so that you have more flexibility in terms of your postemployment options.

The way a company deals with employment offers can give you clues about the sort of treatment you might expect to receive after you are hired. Beware of a company that refuses to spell out employment terms in detail. You are entitled to this information in order to make an informed decision. You are also entitled to have this information in writing, and a failure to provide it may be an indication of how open and honest the company will be going forward.

What Happens after I Accept an Offer?

After you have accepted a job offer and been given a start date, if you are employed, you will need to give notice to your current employer. You should make sure to follow company policies in this regard, as you will want to maintain a positive relationship with the company you are leaving. It is wise to be willing to go the extra mile to help your current boss work out a transition plan so that other employees can take over your responsibilities until a new hire can be made.

You may also need to be available to your new employer during the transition period. For example, you might be required to submit to a drug test or other screening before you start. You may also need to complete pre-employment paperwork. These tasks should be taken care of in a timely manner so as to get off to a good start with your new employer.