Getting a job offer is and should be a time of celebration. You have successfully navigated the interview process and an employer has determined that you, out of all the other candidates, are the person that they want for the job. The offer represents a salary, benefits, and, for all of you graduating students, an end to the fear of being unemployed after investing time in your education. However, don’t let the happiness of making it through this milestone cloud your judgment into accepting the offer automatically—if you do so you jeopardize your chance of negotiating, or making a carefully thought-out decision about your career. After expressing your interest in the position and enthusiasm about the offer be sure to ask these questions:
1.) When do you need my answer by? Generally, the employer allows at least 24 hours and at most two weeks for a candidate to consider an offer. By knowing how long you have to make the decision, you can notify any other employers that you’ve been interviewing with that you have been made an offer. This way you can ask the employer if it is possible for them to get back to you within the set time frame, especially if one of those other employers is your top choice. It also gives you parameters in which to think critically about how the job fits in with your career goals—could this job give you the skills that you want to gain and open up new possibilities for you career?
2.) Can I receive the offer in writing and the benefits package? Knowing how long you have to respond to a job offer will enable you to carefully view the benefits/salary package in a timely manner and understand if it works for you or not. Keep in mind that salary is not the only factor that affects the overall offer. Benefits such as dental/medical coverage, vacation/sick time, tuition remission, and employer contribution to a retirement plan, among others, all add up. If you aren’t satisfied with the overall package, now is the time to think through your negotiating strategy for your next communication with the hiring manager.
3.) Who can I talk to if I have questions about the benefits package? Sometimes the person offering you the position is not equipped to talk through the nitty-gritty of the benefits package. He or she may then direct you to someone in the HR department that has a better understanding of the benefits available to recent hires. Getting your questions answered about these benefits can ensure that you understand how all the pieces, such as salary/benefits, fit together with your offer.
Keep in mind that asking questions does not indicate that you are not excited about the offer. It shows the employer that you truly care about your career by taking the time to do your research and understand how the position, salary and benefits fit in with your goals. On the flip side, if you already know what salary a hiring manager is going to offer you and the benefits that go along with it, there is no need to hesitate when receiving the offer, if you’ve already thought critically about what accepting the position would mean for you. Feel free to accept on the spot-congratulations, you’ve earned it!
Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development. A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 3 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education.
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