accepting job offer

Accepting a job offer is a triumphant moment for any job seeker. After all the work you've done researching, applying to jobs on Monster, and interviewing, you've finally been offered the position you've been aiming for. Go you! You're understandably psyched. But don't be so quick to jump on board right away. Knowing how to accept a job offer is a key skill every job seeker must master.

When an employer makes a job offer, they're effectively laying their cards on the table and they want you to do the same—meaning they want you to also put your cards on the table and accept the position right then and there. Do that and you're giving up your negotiation power. Bad move.

To understand how to accept a job offer the right way, follow these steps:

1. Express Your Appreciation for the Job Offer

Whether you're communicating in person, on the phone, or via email, thank the person who made the offer and say how excited and grateful you are before you do anything else.

Whether you're going to come back with a negotiation or accept the offer without changes, starting off this way sets a good tone for the conversation.

Keep up the enthusiasm as you move forward. Remember that the company is vulnerable—you might not accept their offer—so make them feel less so with your interest in the role. Using words like "excited" and "thrilled" will get the point across, without saying you're accepting the position.

2. Ask to Get the Offer in Writing

Learning how to accept a job offer means you need to know exactly what you're saying yes to. Once you've thanked the employer, request to have the offer put in writing. An official job offer letter should include, at the very least, the name of the position, a start date, a salary, and details about benefits.

This step does two things:

  1. It makes the offer official.
  2. It gives you a chance to review the details thoroughly to make sure you completely understand what you're being offered.

Ask how long you have to give a final answer after receiving the letter. If the employer says they need an immediate answer, that's a bad sign. Accepting a job offer properly requires due diligence, and a company is very much aware of this. Pressuring you doesn't give the best impression and tends to be used as a scare tactic. A responsible employer wants prospective employees to have some time to think—usually a day or two—before accepting a job offer.

But if you want to negotiate the terms, respond by saying: "I've considered the offer and it's a wonderful opportunity; I would want to discuss the details more carefully. When can we set up a time to speak or meet?"

Be prepared with the right questions to ask when negotiating salary, and remember that you should take a collaborative, not confrontational, tone in your negotiation. After all, both of you want the same thing—you in that job.

3. Know What to Say When Accepting a Job Offer

When you're through negotiating and ready to accept, reiterate all the details as you understand them in your acceptance. You can say: "It is my understanding that I will be eligible for X days of vacation, Y amount of bonus payable on Z, the company covers 75% of my health care costs and matches my 401K contributions up to the first 3% of my salary."

This is especially important if you've negotiated up from the initial offer. In fact, you should also ask to get the final, official offer in writing.

If the negotiations took longer than expected, acknowledge that in your acceptance. Negotiation is stressful for both sides and expressing appreciation for your new employer's time and effort once you finally accept an offer shows you're ready to move forward.

Finally, ask about the next steps. For example, is there any onboarding paperwork you should get started on after accepting a job offer? Will there be an orientation? And how can you prepare for your first day? This shows your interest, which will reaffirm to the company that they made the right choice in hiring you.