You did it! After the time spent building your brand and resume, defining a strategy for your job search by researching and applying to select companies, countless zoom interviews, and a number of painful rejections, you have finally landed an offer! Congratulations…now what!?
It is important to think about this throughout the interview process and understand the timeline as well as steps you will need to take if an offer is extended. You should have a roadmap for yourself and begin to think about these things as you progress through the stages of an interview with an organization.
1) Reflect. How did you get here? Be sure to thank the people that helped throughout the process as this goes an extremely long way in building your network. That friend of yours that made the initial intro? Send them a thank you note. The recruiter that guided you along the process and provided valuable info along the way? Send them a gift card (we’re biased but we like coffee!)
2) Be Excited! However an offer is extended (via email, phone call, zoom meeting), be genuine and show excitement as this will display in the first reaction from your potential future employer. This will put you in a good position no matter which decision you choose or direction you go.
3) Have a realistic timeline. Offer details are extensive and have a lot of detail you will want to review before jumping to “ I accept” try, “Thank you so much. I am extremely excited and going to take the weekend to review and will get back to you by the end of day Monday!” Make sure you know when the company wants a decision. Does the timing work for you? What if you have another opportunity that you want to see through? See if you can extend the timeframe. If that isn’t realistic, you may have to make a decision or run the risk with them moving on to a backup candidate.
4) Review the offer and be honest with yourself. You have spent a significant amount of time and investment through the interview process. Take a holistic approach and understand if this is an offer and company that you are interested in and can see yourself being successful in. Lean on folks in your network and those that you value. Ask their opinion. This is a huge decision so make sure you really take advantage of the resources you have available.
5) Understand your Leverage but be Respectful.
Don’t assume that the new company is purposely throwing out an offer that they expect you to negotiate. Trust that it was a good faith effort to make a competitive and acceptable offer. But as with anything with so many moving parts, there are likely to be blind spots and they very well may be open to negotiating at least some components of the package. This could be direct compensation or non-monetary elements (vacation time, work from home arrangements, delayed start date). There may be a limit on base salary due to the existing compensation structure in which case there may be more flexibility on one-time signing bonuses. No matter what parts of an offer you’d like to negotiate, make sure you communicate everything all at once and be prepared to make a decision based on their response.
6) Understand the Present and Future Value of the Job. Do your research! Use industry-specific and high-quality salary surveys available online. Talk to colleagues and mentors in your profession to get a sense for what comparable roles are paying in your region. Think in terms of total compensation (base salary plus target bonus) as packages can differ greatly from company to company for comparable roles. Also consider that a lower than expected compensation package might be okay if it aligns with other, longer-term goals (such as providing you experience that will elevate your prospects in the future).
7) Know the Company’s Compensation Philosophy. Companies sometimes try to keep salaries in the median range so they can remain competitive without disrupting internal equity of existing staff. Or sometimes they offer lower base salaries that have more robust performance based incentives. In some cases, companies have a business case to pay well above the median to recruit experienced external talent. The more you know about the company’s compensation philosophy, the better your ability to negotiate.
8) Know your Value. By focusing on the value you bring to help your new company achieve its goals, you can more effectively communicate your wants/needs during the negotiation while not coming across as greedy nor underselling yourself.
9) Fully Understand the Implication of Non-Compete Agreements
At this point, you have probably already determined whether any prior non-compete agreements limit your ability to formally accept the offer. But if this does become an issue, you may need to consult an employment lawyer before proceeding. And you will want to be sure you fully understand the implications of a non-compete that your prospective new employer asks you to sign.
10) Make your Decision
Whether this is an offer that completely exceeded your expectations in every way or perhaps it fell short in a couple of areas but that is, all things considered, still acceptable. It’s now time to formally accept the offer. Work with your HR contact to make sure that you complete any initial paperwork accurately and as soon as requested. Make their lives easier from the beginning! Take the opportunity to send a follow-up note to the hiring manager to thank them again for the opportunity and to let them know how excited you are to start your new role. Ask if there is anything you can do in the weeks between now and the start date to put yourself in a position to hit the ground running.
While it may be tempting to put in your notice as soon as you have accepted the offer, there may be remaining steps (background check, references, drug screening) that need to clear before you are authorized to establish a firm start date. Keep a clear line of communication with HR in case there are any hiccups and refrain from communicating anything to your current employer until you have the “all clear” from the hiring company.
When giving notice to your current employer, you can anticipate that the prospect of a counteroffer may come up. By resigning, you have probably just made your boss’s job much more difficult and there may be a kneejerk attempt to keep you from leaving. Your boss may even have leaders up the chain of command reach out to you directly to convince you to stay. And if you’ve been with your current employer for a while, this can be all the more emotionally taxing. It is helpful to think through all of the reasons you originally started a job search and talk to friends/family who are not affiliated with your current employer to get reassurance of your decision.
And even though you’ve already successfully navigated the interview process and negotiated an acceptable offer, behave as if you are still competing for the role. While rare, offers do get rescinded at the last minute. So act with a “candidate” mindset until your first day. And take full advantage of whatever time you have off between jobs to relax and prepare for this next chapter in your professional life.
Good luck in your new role!