How to evaluate, negotiate, accept or reject a job offer

Posted on April 16, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Congratulations! You got the job. Now for the hard part: deciding whether to accept it or not. How should you assess the salary as well as the other perks? Which publicly available information should you rely on? How should you try to get a better deal? And what’s the best way to decline an offer if it’s not the right job for you?

  1. Change your mind-set

    First, you must recognize that receiving an offer represents a new and different phase of the job search process. The purpose of the interview is to get the offer and the next stage is about weighing that offer and then negotiating it with your new employer. Bear in mind that even though the job is yours if you want it, you must continue to be enthusiastic in your dealings with your prospective manager. By sounding critical or suspicious or by questioning something about the offer, you are sending a negative signal and it might sound as if you’re uncertain that you want the job. That may indeed be the case, but it’s not the message you want to send to your would-be manager.

  2. Be methodical

    You need to think about what matters to you in both your professional and private life and then evaluate the offer. People tend to focus on the dollars, but it is useful to ask, “What is of value to me?” After all, money is only one component of career satisfaction. The most important components, besides salary, to take into account are cultural fit, job content and flexibility, vacation and other social perks. You must also assess your walk-away alternatives. Think about the offer in terms of the cost and benefit of starting the job search process all over again, staying in your current job, or waiting to see what other offers appear later on.

  3. Be tough but cheerful

    Once you have determined the most important elements of the offer that you would like to change, you need to decide which cards you are going to play and the sequence of how you will play them. You want to maximize the cost of the things you are prepared to accept and minimize the things you’re asking for. Demonstrate that you’ve undertaken a thoughtful evaluation. For instance, you might say, “I am quite happy with the role and responsibilities, but I would like to work from home one day per week.” Seek to come across as a tough but cheerful negotiator.

  4. Be prepared to say “no” if it’s not right

    Ideally there will be some give and take in these negotiations, but if you keep coming up against a "no" for everything you ask for, that demonstrates inflexibility on the part of your eventual employer. That could well be a management style you don’t want to live with. Pay attention to your internal monitoring system. There is no shame in declining a job offer if it’s not the right fit. As long as you turn it down politely with one or two good reasons, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. And yet, you should always leave the door open. The people you are dealing with are your potential customers, potential advisors, and perhaps even your future employers. Be respectful.