By Abbey Slattery
Applying for jobs can. Be. Rough. From getting your resume right and nailing the phone interview to crafting the perfect thank-you email, changing each cover letter you use ever-so slightly, stressing over whether your interview outfit is professional enough—it’s all for the sole purpose of getting that sweet, sweet offer letter.
But wait: what happens once you actually get the offer? Besides lots of celebrating and a load of stress off your shoulders, there are a few key moves to make.
Here’s your quick guide to accepting a job offer.
What to look for in your offer letter
In all of your excitement, be sure to give your acceptance letter a thorough look-through. First, check the obvious things like job title, start date, and salary. Once you’ve covered the basics, you should study up on that letter like you’re going to be quizzed on the material.
Do you get a guaranteed bonus, health insurance, or maybe life insurance and a 401(k)? What about the more fun perks, like free lunch, a gym membership, or work-from-home options? For most women, the top benefits include things like paid time off, salary satisfaction, and flexible hours. How’s your offer stand on each?
If there are certain benefits that are priorities for you but not included, don’t worry—you have some leverage to negotiate for more.
Negotiating you job offer
You might think since you’re just starting the job, you don’t have room to ask for more. But the worst they can do is say no, and if you frame your argument strategically, you can end up in a much better position. If you’re coming from a job that had a select number of better benefits, you’ll have even more of an upper hand.
Here’s what you should consider when negotiating your job offer:
Paid time off: Most companies have a set amount of paid days off, but if your previous employers offered more, then you might be able to up your number.
Your salary: Feel like that number isn’t as big as it should be? If you’re able to prove your worth to the company by putting together a convincing portfolio of tasks you’ve accomplished, you could increase your number.
Need a salary negotiation tutorial? Check it out: How to negotiate your salary (for career newbies and industry vets).
Flexible work hours: Maybe you’re more productive when you work from home—turns out lots of people are! A great way to float the idea to your employer is by offering to work in the office for a few months, then work remotely for a day every week.
Relocation costs: If you’re making a move for this job, then the company should be willing to pay a little extra to help with the move. Gauge what a realistic number for your troubles is beforehand, then bring it to the table with plenty of evidence.
As you’ve worked with the company longer, you’ll be able to start negotiating more detailed benefits, like paid professional development opportunities, education funds or tuition reimbursement, and commuting reimbursement. In the end, your perks should total around 30 percent of your compensation.
How to write your acceptance letter
Once you’ve ironed out the details and negotiated for the right deal, it’s time to accept! Of course, every acceptance letter will be different, but there are a few basic points that each should hit on:
Gratitude for the opportunity
A declaration of acceptance for the offer and restating the title
A projected (or provided) start date
You might also want to include a quick rundown of the benefits you agreed upon, as well as some general excitement about what you’re looking forward to in the position.
An acceptance letter email example
Dear [Hiring Manager],
It was great to hear back from you after we’ve been talking for the past few weeks, and I’m excited to officially accept your offer as a [job title] at [Company Name]. I’m looking forward to the opportunity that this position will bring and feel privileged to soon be a member of the team.
As we discussed, my annual salary is set at $50,000, paid time off is set at 18 days, and my insurance coverage will kick in after the first month of employment.
I’m available to start within two weeks of today’s date. I can’t wait to learn more about the details of the company and officially join the team! If you need anything else from me or would like me to bring a few things along on my first day, feel free to contact me through phone or email.
What not to do when accepting a job offer
Getting a job offer is exciting, but don’t jump the gun. Now that you know all about how to accept and offer, here’s what you definitely should not do when accepting a job offer:
Decide not to talk HR about potential benefits. Who needs paid time off and dental coverage, anyway!?
Refuse to negotiate your salary. You should know your worth and not be afraid to fight for it if you feel the salary doesn’t match.
Decide things on a handshake with no signed documents, because...obviously, that’s a bad call.
In the end, accepting a job is a pretty simple process, but don’t hesitate to negotiate for perks that are priorities to you.