Yelling "Show me the money," doing the happy dance and treating yourself to a few adult beverages might all be acceptable responses to getting a job offer -- preferably just not in public. How you react in private is your call, but do follow some basic "do's and don'ts" publicly when you receive a job offer. Responding appropriately is important to maintaining your reputation and avoiding burning professional bridges, while public missteps might cause your prospective employer to question the wisdom of having extended you the offer in the first place. And once you do accept a job, contact other places where you've applied to let the hiring manager know you're no longer available for consideration.
Whether you get your job offer in person, by phone or in a letter, your initial response to a prospective employer should always be the same -- gracious, appreciative and measured. As soon as you are in private, call the hiring manager and calmly tell her you are glad to hear the news and you appreciate the offer. Next, state that you would like a little time to consider your decision and commit to calling her back within a few days. Then, after you hang up the phone or get back to the privacy of your own home, yell, run around, do some dancing or celebrate however you want.
If you know you want to take the job as offered, then you've got it made, and your response is simple. A day or two after the offer is made, contact the person who made it and tell her you are happy to accept the offer. Then ask for the details about when to come in and do the necessary paperwork to make it official. Ensure that you know when the company expects you to start, where to report -- and to whom -- and what materials, if any, you need to bring with you on the first day. Then, by all means, treat yourself to an awesome pair of new shoes for that first day.
Maybe you're interested in the offer, but aren't thrilled with the benefits package or have questions about the salary. Decide what is and isn't a deal-breaker for you and write yourself some notes about what you're requesting. Then call the hiring manager who offered you the position; tell her that you have a few concerns that you need to discuss before you can make a decision. State your case concisely and directly, but remain courteous and professional, even if the negotiations don't go your way. If your negotiations are successful, request the new terms and conditions in writing before making a final commitment.
Declining an Offer
If the offer isn't what you expected, the job is no longer a good fit, or you've gotten a better offer, decline promptly and respectfully. Call the hiring manager as soon as you know you're not going to accept the job. Thank her again for her time and consideration, then tell her you've decided you can't accept the job. You're not obligated to tell her why, but if you can offer a simple, truthful explanation -- you've accepted another job, or you're moving to another city for a spouse's new job, for example -- do so. Follow up your phone call with a letter officially declining the position, to make it official.
- BloombergBusinessweek: Offer-and-Acceptance Etiquette
- Harvard Business Review: Turning Down a Job Offer
- University of California Berkeley Career Center: Job Offer Etiquette
- Emily Post: Backing Out on an Accepted Job Offer
- U.S. News & World Report Money: How to Juggle a Job Offer When You're Waiting for Another
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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