After a tiring job hunt, you got a job offer! Pat yourself on the back and prepare to respond.
In the best case scenario, you'll be accepting the job and you're on your way to an exciting new chapter. But you might get stumped on exactly what to say when replying to a job offer. Or, you might realize this actually is not the opportunity for you, and have to tell them no.
Whatever your decision, it’s important to maintain the same level of professionalism in your response as you did in the interview process.
Let’s walk through how to tackle each reply scenario, including:
- Accepting a job offer
- Rejecting a job offer
- Negotiating a job offer
- Asking for more time to consider a job offer
How to reply to a job offer when accepting
Congrats - the position and company where you want to work are a perfect fit, and they offered you the job! When your current job is driving you crazy, it can be hard to resist responding with an ecstatic Yes! as soon as you receive the offer.
But there are many questions to ask before accepting a new job. Take a minute to look over the proposed salary, title, benefits, and other terms, such as stock options and travel.
Beyond those basics, you also want to consider three key areas before accepting a job offer: the manager style and expectations, the team dynamic, and the company culture. This company and team will be your new "home" for a while. You want to make sure it's not just good on paper, but is somewhere you want to be every day (even if you're working remotely).
If everything checks out and satisfies your needs, then you can begin crafting your acceptance letter. (But we highly recommend negotiating your offer.)
What to write to accept a job
Make the acceptance obvious (i.e. use the words, "I am pleased to accept your offer…")
Repeat the position title and relevant terms
Give your expected start date
Express your thanks
Clarify anything that needs to be clarified
Inquire about additional paperwork or information to provide
What you won't include:
- Too many details or thoughts on what you'll do in the role. There will be plenty of time for that once you're there (and getting paid to provide those).
Questions that you need answered before accepting. Those need to be wrapped up before you say "Yes!" and not in the same email, so there's no confusion.
Trash talk about the current job you're in and can now leave because you have a new offer, despite how excited or relieved you might feel at this point in the process.
Any information that could be too personal. You might have hit it off with the recruiter or new manager - which is a great sign! - but keep it professional with them.
Example of a job acceptance letter
I would like to thank you for offering me the software engineering position at the Guild Company. I am excited to officially accept the offer and begin working with the team.
As discussed, my annual salary will start at $50,000 including three weeks of paid vacation and a full benefit package available at 90 days of employment.
Please let me know if there is anything I can provide prior to my start date on February 3, 2019.
Read more: 8 Ways to Introduce Yourself Professionally
How to reply to a job offer when you need to ask for more time
It’s acceptable, and even fairly common, to ask for time to mull over your job offer. You may want time to craft your counter offer, have other offers on the table or family considerations, or just need to take a step back to gain clarity.
Still, send your initial response within 24 hours and give a date you will deliver your final answer. Two to three days is a typical amount to ask for. If you need more, try to keep it to no more than a week.
If you have any questions about the offer itself, or any remaining questions about the company, role, or team you'll be working with, now's the time to ask and make sure you're on the same page your potential new employer.
Example of a job offer reply asking for more time
Thank you so much for offering me Cooper & Co.’s financial analyst role. I am honored to be considered for the opportunity and feel I would be valuable to the company.
I am carefully considering the position’s details and would like a couple of days to make a decision. I can provide a final answer by Thursday morning.
How to reply to a job offer when negotiating
If, upon reviewing the offer, the salary or benefits or job title (or really, anything else) differ from what you expected or if you deserve more, you have the opportunity to negotiate.
In your response, voice your concerns and request a time for a phone call or meeting with the hiring manager. Be prepared for the conversation with your specific counter offer, but remember to ask questions rather than make demands.
Example of a job offer reply with negotiation
Dear Dr. Weissman,
Thank you so much for offering me the position of research analyst with Mountain College. I am so excited about the possibility of working with your team.
I noticed the signing bonus is lower than what we previously discussed. Are you available for a phone call tomorrow to discuss?
How to reply when you want to decline the job offer
If you received a better offer or simply decided this isn’t the job for you, you can decline the offer completely. Keep your letter short but polite.
Wait, do I have to tell them why?
You are not obligated to explain at all if you don’t want to, but it is respectful to give a brief reason. (Especially if you think they might offer a more lucrative counter offer.)
It’s acceptable to tell them you took a different position or that it isn’t the right fit. It’s not the time to tell them how much you decided you would hate the hiring manager.
Remember not to burn a bridge here. You could cross paths in the future when you're looking for a new opportunity or again, or when they're in a position to give you a stronger offer. Use this time to establish a potential future opportunity for yourself.
Example of a job offer reply when declining
I would like to start by saying thank you for the offer and the time you took to speak with me during my interviews. I know this job search was quite an undertaking for your team.
Unfortunately, I must decline the sales director position at this time. I have accepted an offer that is a better fit for me at this time.
I wish you and your team all the best and I hope we can remain in professional contact in the future.
Read more: The Dos and Don'ts of Exit Interviews