How to know if you should accept a job offer

By Robert Half on 1 August 2023

You did everything right and got the job offer. But after your initial excitement, you realize there are details you haven’t completely thought through. Maybe you’re questioning the compensation package or a too-long commute. Maybe you’re not sure the company’s culture or values align with your own. Or maybe you’re only considering it because it’s the sensible thing to do, rather than something you feel passionate about. 

Now’s the time to look at the offer from all angles and resolve any doubts before you commit to something you may regret later. In today’s job market there’s a shortage of skilled professionals, as reported in the Robert Half Salary Guide, and it’s likely you have other choices. 

Weigh the pros and cons

Let the hiring manager know that you’re interested but need a few days to consider the offer in its entirety. If possible, give a concrete reason for asking for more time, like the need to talk it over with your partner or finish up a round of interviews with another company.

Ask yourself tough questions. Will I be satisfied with the total compensation package including salary, benefits, savings plans and perks? Remember to consider the costs of commuting including added time, tolls, gas and parking fees. 

Then there’s the job itself – are you clear about the expectations, career path and support you’ll get to help you be successful in this role? What about work/life balance – will you still be able to spend quality time with your family or participate in your favourite after-work activities?

If an offer doesn’t check all your boxes, think about what it would take to get you to “yes”. Would you accept the position for more money? Better benefits? A hybrid work environment? Decide now what your bottom line is and reach out to the hiring manager or recruiter and let them know what’s holding you back. The employer might be willing to negotiate a counteroffer to convince you to come on board.

How to decline a job offer

After careful consideration you’ve decided the job just isn’t right for you. What happens now? The best way to keep your reputation intact is to make sure all your interactions with the recruiter or employer are courteous.

Be polite at all times. Stay positive and avoid any language that may be construed as unappreciative or reflect negatively on the company involved. Stick to concise – but honest – explanations, such as not being able to make a move due to family commitments, or receiving a better compensation package for an unexpected, higher-level position elsewhere that you feel obliged to take.

Express your gratitude. Be sure to thank the employer for the opportunity to meet and learn about the company. If there was anything in particular you liked about the company, say so.

It is also helpful to mention your appreciation for the people you met during the selection process. You never know when you might come in contact with them again.

Next steps: re-define your job search 

Declining a job offer is never an easy decision. But when it happens, it’s important to pinpoint what elements of the offer fell short. Was it the salary? Location? Responsibilities? Clearly communicate these details to your recruiter to help them refine your job search and zero in on roles that more closely match your needs. 

You can also use this experience to create an interview strategy to make sure you land the job you really want. Before your next interview do your homework. Research the company, plan how to use the job description to frame your conversation and prepare follow-up questions that will reveal whether an opportunity will measure up to your expectations. If an offer materializes you’ll already have the answers you need to make your decision.

Receiving a job offer is exciting, and sometimes it is easy to miss or overlook important factors that become more apparent after further reflection. But it’s important to carefully consider if the position is truly good for you before accepting a job offer. If you spend time digesting all of the information to fully understand what the position entails, you will be able to make an informed decision before you say yes.

Do you want to continue your job search with the help of a specialized recruiter? We can help!

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