Accepting and rejecting job offers

Accepting a job can be a big decision. With a tight job market, many job seekers may feel that it is best to jump at the first offer. But that is not always the best career move. Learning now to accept and reject job offers should be part of your skill set.

When a company offers you a job, ask questions. “Ask about the benefits package. Ask about the start date and if the start date is predetermined or if that is something you can negotiate,” says Sharon Juillet, manager of nurse recruitment at Detroit Medical Center in Michigan.

“If the offer comes back, and it's everything you want, accept it right away,” Mike Erwin, a senior career adviser for CareerBuilder.com advises.

If the above questions are not yet answered, or if you need to consider the information provided then it is acceptable to ask the person making the offer for some time to think.

How much time? “This depends on the level of the position and whether you have other decisions to make such as relocation,” Karen Bryer, human resources director at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus said. “I would say on average, 24 to 72 hours is acceptable. For entry-level positions, no more than 24 hours.”

Whatever you do, do not delay answering beyond three to five days. You probably have strong competition and it is unlikely that a company will offer you more money, if you hold out.

Choosing between two offers

If you are lucky enough to receive more than one job offer, you will have some choices to make. Get out a pencil and start making a pro and a con list.

 “Money should not be the deciding factor,” Bryer said. She suggested including the following factors: benefits, company culture, work-life balance, educational or training opportunities and opportunities for advancement. Ask yourself if there are additional hidden benefits. Which organization made you feel the most welcomed and valued?

Another thing to think about is whether the goals of the organization match your personal and professional goals, Juillet suggested.

If the offer is not right or you decide to accept another job, reject the position over the phone as soon as possible. Remember to be gracious when turning down an offer — you never know what the future may hold.

Stacy M. Kess is a registered nurse and a freelance health and news writer based in Columbus, Ohio.
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