Fielding a Job Offer

Fielding a Job Offer .

by Dr. Orlando Moreno

"I have some good news," the recruiter says. "We would like to extend you an offer of employment as a research fellow. Your base compensation will be $35,000 annually with benefits and an option grant of 1,000 shares."

You've got some decisions to make. Namely, you can:

Politely refuse the job

Gratefully accept the position

Request more time to think over the offer

Remember, it's not only the decision you make, but how you communicate it.

An Offer You Can Refuse

If you decide to refuse the job, let the recruiter down gently.

Take the time to thank him for all his hard work and apologize for the unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from accepting the "wonderful offer."

Communicating your reason for refusal politely and with finesse leaves open the possibility of a counteroffer. If a company wants you badly enough, they may sweeten their offer, adding vacation days or additional money to the overall compensation package.

(Of all the things you'll encounter in your job search, counteroffers are perhaps the most fickle. There's simply no way of knowing whether a company will extend one.)

Replying to a job offer with a curt "I'm not interested," can destroy your chances of working for the company in the future. After all, Companies -- like people -- hold grudges.

Delaying the Decision

Most recruiters will understand if you ask for some time to consider their offer, but they will want an answer quickly -- probably within a couple of days.

Don't expect a company to put a position on hold for weeks, while you shop around for the best offer.

If you need more time, politely say, "First, thank you so much for the offer. I was really impressed with your company and the people I met. However, I really need to step back and examine the offer. I want to be sure I make the right decision."

Be sure to establish a mutually agreeable time for giving your decision.

If there is something that is preventing you from taking the job outright and you feel the company may be flexible, bring it up with the recruiter: "I really appreciate the offer," you say, "but I have to say the salary is just a bit below what I expected."

Avoid headstrong words like "require and demand." Diplomacy is the name of the game.

I Accept!

If you accept a job offer, first pat yourself on the back. Then, roll up your sleeves. There are lots of loose ends you'll need to tie up and important dates you'll need to jot down.

Once you verbally accept an offer, one of your most important tasks is to make sure you get the offer letter. This letter lays out the specifics of your new job. It usually includes your title, supervisor, salary, benefits and the terms of your employment.

Never give two weeks' notice at your current job until you have received, signed, returned and confirmed receipt of the offer letter. Most employers will FedEx or messenger you the letter to expedite this process.

Also, be sure you ask the recruiter if there will be an orientation. Companies usually hold these on a fixed day each week or month. It's possible the orientation will precede your official start date. If so, make absolutely sure you don't miss it.

Two Weeks' Notice

Once all things are go with your new job (this means you've signed and confirmed receipt of the official offer letter and arranged for your start date), you give notice to your current employer.

The standard is two week's notice. Make sure the start date for your new job allows for this.

Now, how do you break the news to your boss? In my experience, it's best to keep it short and sweet. If you have an uncomfortable relationship with your manager, you'll appreciate this approach. If you have a friendly relationship with your manager, you can supplement your brief resignation notice with a personal conversation.

Official resignations are usually in the form of a letter. I've included a sample one below:

"Dear Chris,

While I have enjoyed my work at Fictional Company, I believe it is time I left the company to pursue other opportunities.

Please accept this as my two weeks' notice. My last day will be February 31, 2002."

Leaving any company presents a tempting opportunity to vent, but you should avoid this at all costs. The last thing you want to do is burn any bridges.

Of course, if you feel you have been discriminated against or treated in some illegal fashion, you should take this up with the appropriate authorities.

Lastly, you should be prepared should your current employer make a counteroffer. As I said earlier this week, you can never depend on this. So, before you submit your letter of resignation, be sure that you're leaving for a better job.

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