You get the call—you’ve got the job! Before you accept the job offer, kindly thank the person on the other end of the line and tell them you will give them an answer within 24-hours. Don’t be over-eager—you can happy dance after you’re sure you shouldn’t reject the offer.
In the euphoria of getting the job offer call, it’s easy to forget that now is the time for careful consideration. To accept, reject, or negotiate—that is the question!
1. Don’t Accept a Job Offer if the Salary is Ridiculously Low
You want to work for an employer who values you and your work. A super-low salary offer is a sure sign that the employer either doesn’t value what you do, or doesn’t understand the salary range for someone in your field with your experience level. A low salary offer may also signal that a company is in trouble financially. Regardless, it’s not a good sign, and you shouldn’t accept the offer.
Instead, try to negotiate a fair salary for your industry. If you aren’t sure what a fair salary is, you can research on websites like Salary.com, or you can read job advertisements for similar work in your area. You should also network with people in your industry. If you don’t want to flat out ask someone how much they make, you can instead tell them about the job offer and ask them what they believe is a more fair salary range.
Once you are clear on a fair salary range, go back to them employer and tell them you are excited by their offer, but you are concerned about the salary range. Point out your qualifications and your research, and propose a new range. The worst they can say is “no.”
It’s always wise to know the fair salary range for the position for which you’re applying before you go to an interview. Always do your research ahead of time, when you can.
2. Reject a Job Offer if the Benefits Suck
Most big companies have either an online employee handbook or benefits website. When you’re researching a company before an interview, look for this information so you can ask questions before you get to the job offer stage. If you can’t find the information, ask to whom you should direct questions about benefits when you go for your interview.
If you’re interviewing for a full time job, the benefits should include decent medical coverage with low premiums and deductibles. One of our clients was recently offered a factory job where the medical deductibles were over $12,000! Remember that benefits are part of the overall salary-balancing act with any job. Do the math and make sure a high salary isn’t just covering up for bad benefits.
Look at other benefits too, like dental coverage, employee assistance plans, 401K or other retirement accounts, and employer matches on retirement account deposits and stock options. If you aren’t sure of what something means, call the HR department and ask.
3. Reject a Job offer if a Company that Doesn’t Have Personal Days
When you’re evaluating a job’s benefits, be sure to look at time off. In most cases, you want several federal holidays, at least a week’s worth of sick time, at least two week’s worth of vacation, and several personal days. Personal days are important because they show that your employer cares about the “real life” stuff you have to handle, like doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, and dealing with family issues.
A good employer will realize that vacation time is time to rest and rejuvenate. Spending vacation days on personal business results in overstressed employees, and overstressed employees don’t do their best work. It’s another way employers show that they value their employees.
If a job offer doesn’t include personal days, take a good long look at the company’s policies on sick time. Can it be used for doctor’s appointments? If an employer offers more vacation time than others, they may expect some of that time to be spent on personal matters, too. Look at the full picture before making a decision.
4. Reject a Job Offer if the Employer Forbids Moonlighting or Have Other Crappy Policies
Before accepting any job offer, it’s a good idea to read through the employee handbook. Some employers have policies that are demeaning or career inhibitive. One of the worst we see is a “no moonlighting” policy that forbids employees from having a second part-time job or side hustle.
It shouldn’t be any of your employer’s business if you want to do some freelance writing on the side, or if you’re working of your student loans through a part-time retail gig. As long as you are doing your work properly and on time, all should be well with your boss. Your employer should not own any more of your time than what they are paying you.
Look for other policies that might be deal breakers for your situation. Some forbid cell phones and personal calls at work. Some have infraction-based systems where if you’re “written up” so many times you’re automatically fired. Read the fine print carefully!
5. Never Accept an Offer if You Have a Bad Feeling after the Interview
Most of all, you have to trust your gut feelings about job offers and whether or not to accept them. Remember that when you go for an interview, it’s a two-way conversation. It’s your opportunity to learn as much about the employer as possible.
If you walk into an interview and people aren’t happy to greet you, that’s a warning sign of a hostile work environment. If the questions the interviewer asks make you uncomfortable, that’s another warning sign.
If the interview turns into a horror story session about the last person that held your job, run. Finish the interview, and then if you’re offered the job, say “thanks, but no thanks.” First, it’s unprofessional to trash another person to a complete stranger, and second, it shows you how little the employer values employees.
When you’re evaluating a job offer, don’t give an answer right away. Take at least a couple hours to think about the offer and do a bit of research to make sure it’s the right place for you. Make sure you’re comfortable with salary, benefits, and employer policies before you sign the offer letter. Clear expectations make for the best partnerships between employers and employees!
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