You’ve done all this work getting through the hiring process: crafted a perfect resume and cover letter, braved (and knocked out of the park!) your first and second interviews, and waited by the phone. And now the time has arrived—you’ve been offered the position! It can be really tempting to blurt out “YES, OF COURSE, I ACCEPT!” as soon as you’re given the good news, but it might be more prudent to wait and follow the procedures we lay out to ensure your transition is smooth and your new job every bit as good as you’re expecting it to be.
Remember: in making you an offer, the company is showing their hand. They want you to show your hand right away in response and give them back the power. Instead, consider wielding it for a while before accepting.
Here are some good practices when accepting (or considering accepting) an offer.
1. Say thank you.
Always be classy, from day one. Step one is always to show your appreciation, no matter whether you are speaking in person, on the phone, or via email. Even if you fully plan to counter their initial offer (and there’s a great chance you should anticipate negotiating your salary), it’s perfectly fine to express your excitement about the position. You’re thrilled! Why hide it? This will make them feel less vulnerable, and also more open to helping you make it work.
2. Get it in writing.
You have the right to request an official offer letter, which includes the name of the position, starting date, salary, and benefit details. This serves two purposes: 1) it buys you a little time and lets you examine the details thoroughly before accepting, and 2) it makes the offer official. Most companies won’t require an immediate answer after giving you the offer letter, but it never hurts to inquire as to their time table—and respect it.
3. Write your own acceptance confirmation.
There is a right way to say “yes” once you’ve expressed your appreciation, received initial notice in writing, reviewed the initial terms, (hopefully) negotiated the salary and benefits you want, and received the go-ahead. Once everything is nailed down, it’s best professional practices to put your acceptance in writing, as well, via an acceptance letter (email is usually fine for this).
A written acceptance gives you the chance to reiterate all of the details you’ve negotiated, including precise terms of compensation, expectations, vacation, and benefits. It gives you an additional opportunity to thank them and express your enthusiasm. A more formal, written acceptance is a great way to acknowledge and be appreciative if the negotiating process took longer than you expected. And it’s the best way to clarify next steps.
Close by asking how you can best prepare for your first day. Should you show up earlier than the typical start time in order to set things up? Is there any other information you need to bring from home? How can you make your transition as smooth as possible for them?
Be proactive and start on the right foot—in showing them that you care enough to nail down the details before you begin, they will already be pleased they chose you before you even step in the door.
Make sure to keep your acceptance letter brief, grateful, and absolutely precise. Edit early and often. Finally, make sure you don’t forget to proofread carefully. It’s important to set a professional tone right from the start.
Congrats on your new job! Getting started on the right foot will make you feel great for the opportunities that are just beginning.