After a challenging job search, you finally received the call you’ve been waiting for! Your interviewers liked the potential they saw in you, and a few days after your final meeting, they picked up the phone to tell you the good news: You’re the one they want. They’d like to offer you the position and they hope you’ll accept their terms and start working as soon as possible.
You may be pleased and flattered by the offer, but before you say yes, make sure you pause and take these five critical steps. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Keep a cool head
Whatever you do, don’t let the excitement of the moment push you into a hasty decision. Your employers will probably discuss your candidacy in glowing terms and tell you how happy they were to meet you and how optimistic they feel about bringing you onboard. They’ve already decided that you’ll make a great addition to the team, and they’ll probably enjoy sharing this with you. But don’t get carried away. Accepting a job can be a major life decision, and before you say yes, you have the best possible opportunity to negotiate the terms of your agreement.
2. Say thank you
Before you get down to business and start talking about the terms of your employment, thank your potential managers for the offer. Saying thank you won’t lock you into a commitment — it’s just a pleasant and professional way of showing respect and gratitude.
3. Be honest about their salary offer
Expect your potential employers to include a clear annual or hourly salary rate in their informal offer. They should also include a clear explanation of your basic insurance benefits, commission details and bonus rates with the intention of listing these again in a formal written offer later on. But be aware that they may not do this and may expect you to speak first and clearly state the preferred terms of your employment. If you’ve done your research and have an answer ready, feel free to share your terms. But if not, don’t speak until you’re ready.
4. Ask for some time to think about your decision
No matter the terms of your employment, and no matter who speaks first during your negotiation process, ask for at least 24 hours before you provide your official answer. This will give you time to discuss your decision with your friends and family, and it will give you the time to conduct some research into the standard salary and benefit rates for this type of position if you haven’t done this already.
5. Consider your current position
If your current position involves an “at-will” agreement between you and your employers, then legally, you’re free to walk away at any time for any reason. But for the sake of courtesy and professionalism, it’s a good idea to give your employers two weeks’ notice before you walk away. Your new managers will probably factor this two-week period into your start date, but if they don’t, you’ll need to make this request on your own. Make sure you leave your previous employer on good terms, and make sure you’re satisfied with your formal written offer before you sever your existing ties.
Jenny Treanor is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on LiveCareer, home of America’s #1 Resume Builder.