This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the interview process and received a job offer. This is no small feat and calls for a celebration. While you may be anxious to secure the offer and move forward into your exciting new opportunity, there are a few steps you can take during the job acceptance process to ensure there is no confusion on either end and you are getting everything you expect out of the offer. In this article, we explain six steps you should take when you are accepting a job offer.
The job offer process
During the offer process, there are a few standard steps you can expect, including an offer notification, verbal or initial offer and final offer. Wait times between your last interview and offer conversations vary, but following up if you haven’t heard back in three business days is acceptable unless they’ve given you a timeline for the next steps.
The first (often more informal) offer will likely come in the form of a phone call or email. After the first conversation, you should receive a formal communication containing your official offer. If the offer looks good as-is, you’ll move into the acceptance communications. If not, use this time to negotiate. Let’s take a closer look at each phase.
The informal offer notification overview
Initially, you might get an informal notification from the recruiter that you should be expecting an offer. This communication often comes in the form of a supposition, meaning they will prompt you to tell them what exactly you need from them to accept an offer. An example might sound like this: “Suppose we offer you the position. What do you need from us to accept the offer as soon as possible?” Keep in mind that this is not consistent across all employers, as each will vary in communication type, style and timeframe.
First, express your appreciation. Then, be prepared to discuss items like salary, benefits, bonuses, working hours and any other needs you may have in the new job. After you discuss, you should get additional details from the employer on when and how you can expect to receive an official offer.
The official offer phase overview
After your initial informal conversations, you should get an official offer from the employer. If the offer comes in the form of a phone call, ask them to send a written document for you to review as well.
You must get all the details of their offer in writing both to make the offer official and to fully understand their expectations of your role, pay, start date and benefits. For example, it might be part of a written offer that you will be expected to pay for your work phone. This is something you can bring attention to or negotiate with the employer.
How to respond to a job offer
After you’ve received the official offer, it's time to figure out exactly how to respond to the job offer. Express your appreciation and ask for a timeframe for when they’ll need your response. This can be simple, like, “Thank you for the offer, I’m looking forward to reviewing the terms. When do you need a response?”
While being respectful of the employer’s time, it is perfectly acceptable to take one to two business days to make sure you fully understand the offer. If they ask you to respond immediately, ask politely if you can have 24 hours to review the terms. Though it is a top priority for the employer to get the deal closed as soon as possible, you should dedicate some time to ensure you’re getting everything you need.
At this point, remember that anything you say is not binding. It is acceptable for either party to change the offer as you are having these conversations. You can back out at any time, even if you’ve informally accepted the job.
Related: How to Quit a Job the Right Way
How to negotiate a job offer
Negotiating items in the offer terms is a common part of the acceptance process. If they offer up details about salary or benefits in the initial, more informal portion of the offer process, use that time to negotiate before they’ve drafted your formal offer letter.
If you’re seeing the details of your offer for the first time in the official job offer letter and have decided there are one or more changes you’d like to request, contact the employer to set up a time to talk as opposed to simply sending a counter offer letter. You can keep this simple and professional, like the following:
“I’ve reviewed the offer and I would like to discuss the details more carefully. When can we set up a time to speak?”
Coming into this conversion, be prepared with exactly what you want to be changed in the offer. If you want to negotiate your salary, provide a range that begins with the number you’d like.
For example, if you’ve researched salaries and determined that $75,000 is reasonable compensation for your experience level and job title in this metro area, you could give the range of $75,000–$80,000. Offering a number 2–5% higher gives you a better chance at a salary you’re comfortable with.
If you’re unsure about what salary is appropriate to ask for the position you’re applying to, visit Indeed's Salary Calculator to get a free, personalized pay range based on your location, industry and experience.
When the employer comes back with their decision, don’t opt for another negotiation. If they’ve agreed to your request(s) and you are comfortable with the new terms, express your appreciation and intent to sign the offer as soon as possible. If they decline, politely thank them for considering and reflect on whether or not the offer is acceptable as-is.
How to accept a job offer
Follow these steps when accepting a job offer:
1. Start by setting expectations
It’s always best to be timely in your response to the job offer. Be sure to send a note upon receiving the offer stating the steps you are taking and when they can expect a reply.
2. Carefully review the offer
Ensure you review all aspects of the offer and consider how each section relates to your current role or any competing offers you may have. If available, have a mentor, friend or family member review as well. It’s always helpful to have a second opinion on a decision this important.
3. Decide how you will respond
If the employer sent you an official offer email, it is acceptable to send your acceptance back in an email reply. If they sent you a physical offer letter, consider sending one back. If you do opt for physical mail, you may consider also sending the same message via email to ensure they see it promptly.
4. Begin drafting a reply
After you’ve carefully reviewed the offer terms and are ready to accept, begin drafting your reply. If you’re wondering how to begin your response, look at communications from the employer and follow the same tone.
In your acceptance, start by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and restating the final offer details as you understand them. This can include your expected title, a summary of the salary and benefits you’ve agreed to and the expected start date. Then, clearly explain that you officially accept the company’s offer of employment. Conclude with good wishes and any questions you have ahead of your start date. If you’re sending a job acceptance email, make the subject line clear and easy to find, like “Job Offer Acceptance – Shay Garcia”.
6. Proofread your response
Be sure to review your response several times to spot any errors. It’s always helpful to again enlist a friend or mentor to help in the process. If you are accepting via phone or in person, be sure to practice your response and prepare for any questions or further negotiations.
Job acceptance letter sample
Here’s an example of a job acceptance letter or email:
I appreciate your call and for accommodating my request for a written offer. I’m writing to formally accept your offer for the Finance Associate position at River Tech.
As discussed, my starting salary will be $55,400 per year with three weeks of paid vacation. I understand that my health, dental and vision plans will begin upon the start date with the option of a flexible spending account.
I look forward to joining the team next Monday, July 20th. If there are any documents or other information I should come prepared with on my first day, please let me know. My sincerest appreciation again for the opportunity—I can’t wait to get started!
The communications back and forth from offer to acceptance can be confusing, so if you have any questions along the way, ask the employer during the offer phase. They want to ensure you are clear on the offer and accept as soon as possible, so they will be eager to answer any questions you may have.
Related: How to Find a New Job While Employed
Final job acceptance steps and tips
After you’ve finalized the deal, the next steps include tying up loose ends with your former employer and preparing for your first day.
Before you put in your two weeks notice (or another timeframe per your company’s policy), make sure you’ve done all of the following:
- Formally accepted the written offer letter with a confirmed start date
- Signed any documents from the new employer that make your offer official
- Cleared any final steps like reference conversations or background checks
Your new employer should be eager to help you however they can so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask about the status of any of these things. A simple question like, “Is there anything I should wait for or complete before informing my current employer of my planned departure?” should get you the information you need.
After you’ve informed your current employer of your resignation, begin to prepare for your first day. Though you will likely receive communications from your employer about how to prepare for your first day, here are a few things to consider as you start your new job:
- Onboarding paperwork you need to complete before the start date
- Orientation details
- Items you should come prepared with