“We’re calling to offer you the job. Congratulations!”
You’ve been waiting so long to hear those words. But you’re not quite ready to accept. You say you’ll get back to them “as soon as possible.” But then that second call comes in.
“Have you made a decision yet?”
You haven’t. And you need more time.
This is a situation many people find themselves in.
“You don’t want to jump at the opportunity — nor do you want to seem uninterested,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.”
So how do you politely stall to ultimately get what you want?
“The company may try to push you to make a decision in a short period of time, but a little push back is often expected, as daunting as that might seem with a prospective employer,” Taylor says.
She says even if you plan to take some time with your decision, you should always acknowledge the job offer promptly. “A general rule of thumb is that you can take two to three days for your final response,” she says. “If the employer is vague about the requested response time, you may have up to a week, but a lot depends on the circumstances.”
Most employers understand that you need time to think over the opportunity and that it’s an important decision. If they don’t and use hardball tactics, that should be a red flag — and you may have just dodged a large bullet.
Here are some steps to follow to help you bide time, but stay in the game:
Show excitement and gratitude
You can be enthusiastic and gracious without giving an immediate response, Taylor says. 'Let them know that you're very appreciative of the offer, but would like a little time to make an informed decision.'
Understand the whole picture
Are there remaining questions you must ask that will help tie up any loose ends? Have all compensation factors been addressed beyond salary, such as bonuses, medical, dental and vision coverage, vacation time, frequency of reviews, 401(k) plans, stock, a company phone, car, personal time off, training, education, and other perks? Have you evaluated the culture and things like your expected hours and commute time? By asking for more time, you have created room to get more clarification, she explains.
Plus, asking questions is a good way to stall for time.
Ask for a specific amount of time
Give a specific date: 'I greatly appreciate this offer and I'm really excited about working with your company. I wonder if I could have until Wednesday to get back to you on this opportunity.' 'Stay true to your deadline, or risk the offer being withdrawn,' says Taylor.
Don't be afraid to negotiate
Nobody wants to jeopardize a hard-won job offer at the last minute. But would you even want to work for an employer that would rescind an opportunity because you asked for a little time? 'Remember that you are interviewing the company, too, and now is the time to get it right,' says Taylor.
Strategize with any other offers
If you have another offer pending, and the second job offer -- let's call it job 'B' -- is the preferred one, you're best served to put some diplomatic pressure on job B. 'You want to let job B know upfront that you have another offer,' Taylor advises. 'This is always better than accepting the first job, and then quitting once job B comes through.'
Also, if you're asked whether you have job offers by job A, be honest -- but don't feel compelled to give details.
Don't burn bridges
No matter how you handle your pitch for more time, do it professionally, suggests Taylor. 'The business world, your industry and market are all small. Your hiring manager can likely reappear in your career, so put your best foot forward, especially when you refuse a position.'
Formally accept or turn down the job
Never leave the employer hanging or assume they know you're going to accept, since you once casually told the hiring manager you would take the job if you were to get it.
'When you've made your final decision, do it verbally, but make sure it's in writing,' says Taylor. 'You will likely be asked to sign an acceptance letter, but if you refuse the job, you should also follow up with a gracious email.'
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