How to make a quick job acceptance decision slowly

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’  One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity.  In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity. (John F. Kennedy) 

Why make a quick decision about a job offer?

You have gone in for 3 sets of interviews.  The HR person told you an offer is coming. The offer arrives 2 days later.  It is at the top of the pay range you expected. You ask for a week to consider the offer.  Instead of agreeing, the hiring manager extending the offer gives you until 9 a.m. the next morning.  There just isn’t time to make a decision.  With a firm resolve you tell them if you can’t have a week to decide, you won’t even consider the offer.  To your shocked surprise, the offer is withdrawn. That afternoon an offer is made to someone else and it is accepted immediately.

Why was the offer withdrawn?

  1. You proved you cannot make important decisions quickly given weeks of preparation time.
  2. There was another good candidate.
  3. They figured you were interviewing somewhere else you liked more.

When an offer is made, your acceptance becomes part of your new job history.

If you cannot make a decision quickly, it shows you fail to prepare, consider, and evaluate options in advance.

From the first day you find out you will have an interview, you should be preparing to accept or reject an offer. If a second round of interviews is coming up, you need to have a list of things you want to find out before accepting an offer.  Get the answers you need.

A list of questions is fine, just don’t ask questions you should already have found out about yourself.  Also, don’t ask about benefits, vacation or salary unless you are talking with an HR person. You don’t want the hiring manager to decide that you are only interested in how much vacation you get, instead of the job.

Come up with three salary numbers:

  1. What do you reasonably expect them to offer?
  2. At what minimum pay level will you accept even if there are absolutely no benefits?
  3. What pay level will you accept with benefits just like the ones you have now?

Be prepared. When you receive a job offer and immediately say, “The money is too low, I expect more,” then you have a chance to negotiate.  If you wait a week and ask for more money it feels like you waited just to get an offer from another company so the two places could get in a bidding war. Managers hate that.  It makes them feel they are getting a mercenary who will leave for $5 more instead of an employee who really wants the job.

Know if you want the job.  Know what is an acceptable offer. Have buy-in from your family.  Then say yes, no, or I need a better offer.  Know your answer as soon as you get the offer.  How you prepare for and accept an offer really will be the first part of your job history.

Something to do today

Decide on the three money numbers you want today.  Don’t be afraid to change them later, but have them today.

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Coming up

How to make a quick decision

Job research

Company research

The jobs on my resume

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