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How to accept a job offer

You may feel like shouting a triumphant ‘yes!’ when the recruiter offers you the job, but you need to play it cool.

After all the work you’ve done researching, applying to jobs on Monster, and interviewing, you’ve been offered the position you’ve been aiming for. Go you!

You've got your ticket out, and you’re—understandably—psyched. But don’t be so quick to accept it right away.

“When an employer makes a job offer, they are laying all their cards on the table and giving up all their power,” says Marilyn Santiesteban, assistant director of career services at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University in College Station. “As a result, they want the candidate to lay their cards on the table and accept the position right away, giving up your negotiation power. But that is never a good idea for the candidate.”

Here’s what to do instead:

Express your appreciation

Whether you’re meeting in person, talking on the phone or having the convo via email, thank the person who made the offer and say how excited you are—before you do anything else.

“Always show your gratitude,” says Hannah Morgan, founder of Rochester, New York-based Career Sherpa.

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, Santiesteban says: “Remember that they are vulnerable, so make them feel less so with your excitement about the role.”

Using words like “excited” and “thrilled” will get the point across, without saying you’re accepting the position.

Ask to get it in writing

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: It makes the offer official, and 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, Morgan suggests. If the employer says it needs an immediate answer, that’s a bad sign. “Pressuring doesn’t give the best impression,” she says. “It’s a scare tactic.” A responsible employer wants prospective employees to have some time to make this big decision—usually a day or two.

But if you want to negotiate the terms, Santiesteban suggests responding 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?”

See the article “10 questions to ask when negotiating salary” for help negotiating. Remember that you should take a collaborative, not confrontational, tone in your salary talks, Santiesteban says. “You both want the same thing—you in that job.”

Say ‘yes’ the right way

When you’re through negotiating and ready to accept, reiterate all the details as you understand them in your acceptance, Santiesteban says. 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, Santiesteban says. 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, Morgan says, 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, says Alexa Merschel, U.S. campus recruiting leader at PwC. For example, is there any onboarding paperwork you should get started on? Will there be an orientation? And how can you prepare for your first day? “This will demonstrate a candidate’s proactive interest, reaffirming the hiring manager’s choice to extend an offer,” she notes.

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