Between the job offer and start date
Part 4: Three tips for driving your momentum after receiving an offer
If you've been following the past three entries in this series, you have used the tips in part one, "Writing strong resumes and cover letters," to construct a powerful resume and compelling cover letter to accompany it.
Next, in part 2, you've utilized the "Get out there!" information to splash your resume across hiring managers' desks everywhere.
Then, in part 3, the advice in "Nailing it!" helped you showcase your preparedness, confidence, and enthusiasm during the interview process.
In this last segment of the series, we'll cover what to do when one of the companies you've interviewed makes you an offer. Once this happens, it's time to pack up for a weekend getaway to Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, for a tasting convention, right? Wrong!
You've struggled to propel yourself into this position. So don't slam on the brakes now. Instead, keep your momentum going with these three tips.
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We negotiate with each other all the time.
Do you want to order a pizza and watch Netflix tonight, honey?
No, I have a headache. How about a salad and some CNN?
Despite this, most people think companies chisel their job offers into a granite slab before schlepping them over. They don't.
Go through your offer when you receive it and make sure everything looks good. Here is a checklist you can use to help.
Is the salary within the range you were expecting?
Do the medical, dental, and other benefits support your existing providers?
How much of your compensation will it cost to get these benefits?
How many paid holidays is the company offering?
How many paid vacation and sick days does the company offer?
Does the company offer short-term, long-term, accidental death and dismemberment, or group-life insurance?
How much stock will you get, if any?
Are there any company perks, like discounts on your monthly cell bill, free food in the breakroom, opportunities to work remotely, and so on?
Even if the offer looks good, there is no harm in asking, "Is there any way we could bump the salary up by $2,500 a year to help cover the cost of benefits?" The worst-case scenario is they say no. Any other response will be in your favor.
Your negotiations don't have to be only about salary. I once asked for an extra week of paid vacation per year and got it. Whatever you want, you'll have a much easier time haggling for it now than after you sign the offer letter and start working. Now's the best chance you'll have to negotiate the terms of your employment; make the most of it and get it in writing.
Make your decision
If you interview a lot while looking for a job, which you should, it is common to find yourself in situations where you receive an offer from one company while hoping for a job with another.
Job offers are like glasses of milk. You can only leave them on the table briefly before they curdle, along with your reputation. You have two basic options to prevent this spoilage:
Decline the offer and hope the other company comes through.
Accept the offer.
However, these options are nuanced, so let's review them thoroughly.
I'm not suggesting you take an unnecessary risk or accept an offer you don't want. Instead, it would be best if you quickly decided which route you want to take and move in that direction in a way that minimizes your risk and helps you achieve the best outcome for you and the company that has made you an offer.
My strategy for deciding is to identify why I'm hesitant to take the current position and why I want an offer from the other company instead. If the only reason I can conjure is a fear of missing out, I accept the offer already on the table. Of course, you could get an offer from the second company that includes a pony at some point, but that rarely happens, so take the current offer instead of chasing a mirage and losing both.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to wait, such as the promise of more money, better benefits, or more time off. If so, negotiate with the current company to get their offer in line with the potentially better one. For example, if the still looming offer promises more vacation time, you might bargain with the first company like this:
I received your offer, and it is almost what I need. I'll sign the letter today if we can negotiate an extra week of vacation per year.
This strategy is less tacky than pitting two companies against each other.
If you want to hold out on the other job for reasons you can't negotiate to make even, like the resume prestige of working at Apple over working at We Markit Stuf, it is best to decline the first offer as soon as possible. You don't want rumors to spread that you're inconsiderate and unprofessional.
Avoid stringing companies along. They're trying to fill a position, and it isn't fair for them to think you will accept their offer when you don't intend to. By being considerate, you show yourself to be a professional and will maintain the company's respect, even though you aren't going to take their offer.
Once you receive and accept an offer, email the hiring manager and thank them for giving you the position. Emailing everyone else who took the time to interview you is also a good idea. However, I recommend against blasting out a generic "Thanks!" to the group. Instead, email each individual a personalized message and thank them for their time. This unique contact allows you to start building relationships of trust before your first day.
For instance, consider something you enjoyed about meeting them and tell them how they contributed to your positive interview experience. Here's an example:
I enjoyed our conversation during my interview and have accepted the company's offer.
Thank you for reviewing my portfolio during our conversation. Your suggestions will strengthen my work, and I look forward to learning even more under your mentorship.
I'm excited to begin working together. Thanks!
You should still send out an email to the hiring manager if you decide to reject the offer. They spent time and money interviewing you, so expressing gratitude for this sacrifice is always a good idea, even when declining a position. For example, consider writing something like this:
Thank you for offering me a position with your company. I enjoyed our interview and think you have a great team.
After considering the offer and the day-to-day work, I have found the position doesn't align with my career goals, so I must decline. However, I wish you the best in searching for the perfect fit.
Businesses talk, and people make job changes. If you work in the same area for any period, you'll likely run into the same people at different companies during your career. You want them to remember you as grateful and pleasant, not someone who ghosted them on a job offer.
Now that you have received an offer, negotiated, decided, and voiced your gratitude, it's off to the gum tasting, followed by your first day of work. Enjoy!
If you've followed the advice in this series and landed a job, let us know how it went in the comments. If you've gone through the process more than once, have you made any tweaks to fit your style? How did your alternations affect your outcomes?