🔍 Evaluating a job offer
Time to celebrate, you’ve landed an offer! As soon as you get the news, thank the hiring manager for the opportunity. Let them know when you will be able to give your answer and be honest if you’re completing other interview processes. Try not to take longer than one week to confirm if you’re accepting or rejecting their offer.
Knowing what to look out for in an employment contract can be tricky, but you need to make sure you are happy with every part of the contract before signing it. Once you’ve signed, you are legally obligated to fulfil the contract as written. In most countries, even verbally accepting a job offer is legally binding.
Think back to what you’ve already discussed with the hiring manager and make sure your expectations align with what is written in the contract. Here are a few elements you want to look out for in the contract:
- The remuneration amount including your monthly cost to company and any bonuses;
- How your tax will be deducted, if managed by the employer;
- What benefits and leave days you’re entitled to, including sick leave (ensure these align with the law);
- The job description and your responsibilities;
- How long the contract is valid for;
- Your working hours and how they manage overtime;
- What your probationary and notice periods are (for both termination and resignation) and;
- Any non-disclosure or restrictive clauses, such as not being able to join a competing company after resigning.
If anything is unclear, set up a time to discuss it with the hiring manager. Remember to convey that you are genuinely excited about joining their team, but you would like clarity on some elements of the offer.
For more insights into how to evaluate a job offer, see this OfferZen article.
Deciding between offers
If you’re struggling to decide between two or more offers, think about your future at each company by asking yourself if you were to work at company X or company Y:
- What would your day to day life look like at each company? Can you see yourself being happy to go to work every day?
- How would travelling to and from work feel? Petrol and time costs/benefits?
- What is your team like at each company? Can you see yourself working with them every day?
- Does working at either company have an impact on your partner/family? What do they think about each one?
- How long can you see yourself working at each company? Can you see yourself staying there long term?
- Would working at either company be gratifying to you and your career aspirations (short-term vs long-term)?
Download this template to help you with the above exercise.
Negotiating an employment offer
It can be disappointing to receive an offer that’s below your expectations, especially because you should have already discussed the employment package throughout the interview process. Don’t let this discourage you until you’ve tried to negotiate new terms to fit more in line with your job search priorities.
When negotiating terms in an employment contract, it’s important to come at it from a point of enthusiasm and excitement. You want to get across that it’s a conversation and you’re keen to come to a resolution that works for both of you.
You need to plan how you’ll approach it. Depending on the connection you’ve made with the hiring manager and your time constraints, it may be best to arrange a phone call. That way, the hiring manager can pick up that you are genuinely excited about the offer.
You can also send an email to begin the conversation, but it’s likely the hiring manager will want to have a discussion with you either way.
If you receive an offer that is below your expected salary, use these tips to try negotiate new terms:
Salary negotiation tips
Here’s how you can prepare how you’ll approach the phone call or what to send in the email:
- Start by telling the company why you really love their mission/product
- Emphasise why this role will be a good fit for you now and for your future career goals
- Express how much you appreciate the offer received and how excited you are about the potential to work at this company
- Say that unfortunately there is one aspect of the offer you would like to discuss
- Communicate that the salary amount is not feasible for you and explain why – perhaps it’s lower than your current salary or it’s not market-related
- Suggest an alternative amount and give very specific and thought out reasoning on why you would be beyond happy to accept if the offer was at that amount
- Convey the value you believe you will add to the company, product and team, as well as your confidence in being able succeed with them
- End off with "I am eager to discuss this more so that we can come to a conclusion that works for both of us, but I would like to say that if the offer was at [the preferred amount], I would sign today. Looking forward to hearing from you."
Here is a template you could use for an email:
Hi [hiring manager’s name],
Thank you so much to you and your team for all your time and kindness throughout this interview process. I am so happy to have received an offer to join [company]! I am really excited about this opportunity and my heart is set on joining your team, however, the only thing holding me back from accepting your offer at this point is the remuneration amount.
I originally expected the amount of RXX per month based [give reasons for selecting the amount]. However, I would be really glad to come to a compromise that will allow me to jump 100% into this opportunity.
I genuinely believe that I can be an impactful member of your team at [company name]. [Give reasons for being able to add value]. I have also proved myself to be a fast learner and a hard worker, and I'm motivated to keep growing continuously in order to keep contributing meaningfully to [company name] mission over time.
I would be able to happily accept your offer at a salary amount of RXX cost to company per month. Given my previous experience at [previous/current company name], I genuinely believe this amount to be an adequate reflection of the value that I can add as a [role name] at [company name].
I was hoping we could discuss this further as I am genuinely excited about this position and your company, and I would be happy to be a part of it.
I am available to chat during these times: [give him some dates and times]. I would be so grateful to be able to have a call with you for a discussion.
Kind regards, [your name]
This template can easily be tweaked to negotiate another contract element.
For more insights into how to negotiate a job offer, see this OfferZen article.
Accepting an offer
As mentioned above, accepting an offer verbally or signing an employment contract is legally binding. If you go back on accepting the offer, it will be considered reneging on the offer. Ensure you’ve properly evaluated an offer you’re planning to accept.
It’s vital to take your time evaluating all the options for your next career move. Consider where each individual interview process is at and expedite or delay any to ensure you can evaluate all offers at once. Once you’ve accepted an offer, you want to close the loop with the other companies you’ve connected with.
Don’t rush to accept the first offer that comes along, unless you are in an urgent situation with no other prospects. If you do accept the first offer that comes along and receive another that excites you more, your only option is to renege on the first offer.
If you renege on an offer, the employer does have the right to take legal action, depending on region-specific laws. It’ll be essential to be honest and open about why the other offer is going to be a better decision for you in the long run, while praising the opportunity this employer offered you.
When you've evaluated all your offers and decided which one you'd like to accept, send the hiring manager at that company an email:
- Thank them for the offer and express your excitement to join the team.
- Confirm the start date, role title and remuneration amount.
- Ask if there’s anything you can do to prepare and what the next steps will be.
Rejecting an offer
It can be difficult to decline an offer because both you and the company have invested a lot of time and energy up to this point. Here are some tips to make sure you come across empathetic and professional:
- Send them a message or arrange a phone call as soon as possible.
- Express that you’re really grateful for the opportunity to interview and their offer.
- Outline your reasons for not accepting the offer right now. Be as specific as possible, giving them relevant feedback.
- Tell them that you really enjoyed meeting them and getting to know the company.
- Note that if your circumstances change you’d like to get in touch in future.
- End the message by wishing them the best in finding a great candidate.
Closing the loop with other employers
Once you’ve accepted the most promising offer, you may still have open interview processes with other potential employers. The connections you’ve made with the hiring managers throughout this job search may prove useful in your next one.
To ensure you can leverage these connections in future, here is how you can close the loop:
Hi [hiring manager’s name],
Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with [company name]. I've enjoyed getting to know the hiring team and your company better.
I want to let you know that I've received an offer from another company, and after careful thought, I have decided to accept it. As such, I won't be continuing with the [company name] interview process.
Should I find myself in the job market in the future, I will be sure to get in touch!
Kind regards, [your name]
Resigning from your current job
Resigning can be tough, especially if you’ve had a good experience in your current role. In addition, you want to hold onto a solid connection with the company in case it’s useful to leverage in future.
Spend time crafting your resignation letter before you schedule a meeting with your manager. It’s important to have an in-person conversation before submitting the letter. Unless you are leaving on bad terms, the meeting should be casual. In the meeting:
- Try and be as sincere as possible. You can even acknowledge that this is a challenging thing to do.
- Prepare that they may ask you to stay. You don’t want this to catch you off guard. Refer to the Evaluating a counteroffer section for tips to prepare.
- Pay attention to your tone. You shouldn’t give negative feedback or reasons for leaving at this stage. Rather make the discussion focus on the future – give them reasons why the new opportunity is a great fit for you over why this opportunity is no longer a good fit for you. Sometimes it’s appropriate to give your manager insights into a negative experience you’ve had, such as within an exit interview. Try not to insult anyone or their work; focus on giving personal insights into only your experience.
- Offer to help with the transition if your new role start date is in a couple of months.
After you've chatted with your manager, you can go ahead and submit your resignation letter.
Make a copy of a resignation letter template here.
Evaluating a counteroffer
Remember that it's always hard to leave a job, especially if there are people wanting you to stay enough to make a counteroffer.
Here are a couple of points to keep in mind when you evaluate a counteroffer:
- Consider the reasons you wanted to leave before you began your job search. Ask yourself if remaining with this employer will address the problems that led you to want to leave and the job search goals you set.
- Understand what rejecting or accepting the counteroffer could mean for your relationship going forward, with both your current and new employers.
If you are leaning towards not taking accepting the counteroffer, politely decline and be firm in expressing your reasons for leaving which are not purely monetarily aligned. It is still crucial to leave on good terms with them because they could always take you back if something goes wrong or it does not work out at your next employer.
You may feel that the counteroffer addresses your job search priorities. It can often feel a lot easier to remain in your current job than to leap into a new one. If you’re leaning towards accepting it, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons; that you’ll be able to continue growing towards your career goals and at the same rate as you would be in the new role.
It’s important to remember when you accept an employment offer, you enter a legally binding contract. If you’ve already accepted the new employer’s offer and would prefer to continue with your current employer, you will be reneging on the new offer.
It’s best to avoid reneging on offers altogether, but if you cannot avoid it due to unforeseen and justifiable circumstances, you need to arrange a call with the hiring manager as soon as possible. Justifiable circumstances would include your family needing to relocate, not because you were given a more tempting offer from another company. This is why it’s vital to rather delay deciding on offers as much as possible – see the template under How to manage processes in various stages.
In the discussion, be open and honest about your situation, apologise for having to back out of the agreement, and be thankful for the opportunity. You want to convey that you are excited about their offer but unavoidable circumstances mean you cannot join their team. After the call, send a follow up email confirming what was discussed.