How to accept a job offer — and still get what you want

It’s an uncomfortable situation to find yourself in: you applied and interviewed for an exciting opportunity. You were given the job offer, and you want to accept it, but there are a few ‘buts’ that are making you think twice.

Many people are hesitant to negotiate once they’ve been extended the invitation to join a company, particularly in a competitive employment market. You may rationalize that so many people are looking for jobs, you should take whatever is sent your way, but career experts say it’s smarter to put your cards on the table.

After all, the hiring manager can always say ‘no’ — but you’ll kick yourself if you never make an effort to try and get what you want. Here, learn how to accept your job offer and still get what you want, too. 

Rank your non-negotiables

Everyone desires different aspects out of their employer. While some prioritize their salaries, others are willing to be paid a little less to have a flexible working schedule.

There is no longer a one-size-fits-all to hiring an employee, and most companies know that, so you shouldn’t doubt bargaining for what your lifestyle requires. But before you start the conversation, career expert Wendi Weiner says you need to have a firm understanding of what matters the most to you.

So, make a list of your non-negotiables, and rank them in order of importance, from salary to paid time off, and more. “This will enable you to evaluate the job offer and consider how to counter-offer properly. Having the list of non-negotiables allows you to visualize what’s most important,” she continues.

Perhaps you would like to have a four-day workweek, so you have more time with your school-aged children. With this in mind, Weiner says you can research market values of jobs in your experience and geographic area so you are prepared to counter-offer. 

Truly think about flexibility

If you’re still on the fence about a flexible work schedule, consider the past eight months. For the first time ever, companies were forced to have all employees work remotely for a period of time. For some — like Facebook, Twitter and others — it was an eye-opening silver lining of the pandemic, encouraging them to keep the Zoom-tango in effect until summer 2021 or early 2022.

Suppose you enjoyed being able to go for a quick walk with your pup in between meetings. In that case, flexibility should be something you prioritize and discuss with your new employer, according to entrepreneur Paul Miller.

After all, there is a significant financial gain in not having to commute into the office one to two days a week, which puts more money back in your pocket.

Nowadays, he says more businesses than ever will be giving with this ask since they’ve experienced how effective some workers can be from afar. “You might be surprised, and the company may offer it without the ask,” he explains. And if at first, you don’t succeed, phrase it a different way, but asking for the opportunity in three to six months, once you’ve proven yourself in a new role.

Respond timely

According to Karen Oakey, compensation negotiations are indeed an art that takes balance, precision, and just the right amount of push, the director of human resources for Fracture. But, if you want to continue to woe and impress your new employer, she says it’s vital to respond promptly and be prepared with questions, as well as specific asks.

It’s okay to take a day to think — and read — through the entire proposal but you shouldn’t delay too long since it could illustrate you aren’t as excited about the opportunity. “During this time, review what aspects of the offer don’t meet your requirements, break those out, and find a way to leverage what you will bring and deliver in the company,” she continues. “Scream your value to them.”

Consider all of the perks as part of the compensation plan

No matter if you’re five years, ten years or twenty years into your career, you may not fully understand the actual value of a compensation plan. As Weiner explains, you should be asking pointed, candid questions about health insurance, bonus structures, company culture and incentives/discounts, 401K, and so on.

These all contribute to your ‘payment’ — even if they are often overlooked. For example, Weiner shared a personal experience where she accepted a job offer at a law firm with a decent salary.

However, she was responsible for paying 80% of her health insurance, which ended up being an additional $500 a month out of her pocket. “Look beyond just the base salary: there might be higher earning potential and value in the other items,” she adds.

Sell yourself. 

Once you’ve been given the greenlight for an employment, the hiring manager and your potential boss are excited about your acceptance. This is because you’ve ‘sold’ them on your career background and abilities, and they are ready to invest in the next leg of your career.

This puts you in an excellent position to negotiate for more money, time off or perks that would seal the deal. However, the success of these asks is all found in the delivery, according to Miller. 

“Don’t demand it. Rather, phrase it like this: ‘I am going to be working really hard and would appreciate more time off as long as I get my work done,’” Miller says. As an owner himself, he says it’s evident who is a clock-watcher and who is there to give their job everything they have.

Your goal is to come across as the latter. “I just had two employees who work very hard for the firm ask for days off during the last 15 days before the deadline. One was a staff getting married and wanted to take her honeymoon. The other was her daughter having surgery. It wasn’t even a hesitation; the team rallied to support them while they were away,” he continues. “A good employee will never have an issue.”