what to do once you receive your first job offer

what to do once you receive your first job offer

It’s the time of year when many recent graduates are receiving their first job offers, and I try to be as helpful as I can when my students come to me, unsure of what to do next. It is a really stressful time, especially if it’s your first job!

Wondering what to do after you receive a job offer? Let’s get started.

But remember: Your mileage may vary. What works for me and other people I know, may not work for you.

The Basics of Job Offers

  1. Don’t accept right away! Even if it’s your dream job, I promise you, you will appreciate the time to consider.
  2. Thank the person offering you the job and express that you’re excited about it, but you’d like time to consider everything.
  3. Ask when they need a response by. If you don’t think it’s enough time, you can say that. If they want an immediate response, consider that a red flag.
  4. Review your job offer. Ideally, you’ve received something in writing! Don’t hesitate to ask for a written offer if you aren’t sent one immediately.

Can I negotiate?

A lot of recent college graduates don’t feel like they can negotiate a better salary, more vacation time or even a later/earlier start date, because of their age and inexperience.

But that’s not true! A job offer means a company liked you enough to take a gamble on you – to pay you a salary, give you a desk and more. If they want to hire you, they will be willing to wiggle in some areas to make the job work for you.

You are not selfish, greedy or ungrateful if you negotiate a better job offer for yourself. I’ll scream it from the mountaintops if I have to!

What if they won’t increase my salary?

Salary isn’t the only thing in a job offer that you can negotiate. Consider things like vacation time, furthering your education, training and development, moving costs, performance bonuses, work from home days, etc.

How do I propose a counteroffer?

Be honest and polite when proposing a counteroffer. No need to explain why you think their first offer was total crap – even if you thought it was! Just be clear and frank about what you think your value is.

I also recommend writing your counteroffer down. Jump on the phone with the recruiter or hiring manager too, if you feel like that would be easier, but always put it in writing and start there.

I always suggest making a counteroffer primarily about your ability to bring value to the company and less about your personal needs, whenever possible. So, instead of, “I need X dollars for moving costs to cover my expenses.” I would say, “So that I can start at my new role in the company as soon as possible, I would like X dollars for moving costs.”

What if a company won’t accept my counteroffer?

That is an unfortunate risk you have to take. Most companies will find some middle ground. I do say, though, that if a company doesn’t want to wiggle on anything in a counteroffer, that shows they might be inflexible in future situations, too. That’s not always a red flag, but it can be sometimes.