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You've got the offer, but what do you say and do next? It can be very tempting to say yes right away when you've been searching for a while. But you actually want to take the time to review the offer carefully. Listening is the most important step. Getting the full information on the offer allows you to prioritize what you'll ask for. Let the employer know you are really excited about the offer, and you'd like to take some time to review it in detail. It's appropriate to ask the employer for the offer in writing and get a timeline for getting back to them. This gives you breathing room for the next step, reviewing the offer in detail.
For example, if I was made an offer for a new job, I might say, "Fantastic! I am really excited about the offer! I would like to take the time to think through all the details of the offer, would it be possible to get this in writing, and when do you need to hear back from me?" Or I might say, "This is great! I am really excited about the offer. I'd like to confirm the offer with my partner before accepting. Would it be possible to get this offer in writing and when do you need to hear back from me?" It will be tempting to focus on just the salary, but you need to review in detail the benefits including health, retirement, over time, flexible working hours, commuter discounts and others.
To keep you on track with your priorities, you will want to compare the offer to your pre-negotiation sheet to ensure it fits your needs. Then you should ask clarifying questions. It is better to clarify prior to asking for additional salary or benefits. Your questions will depend on your priorities. For instance, if you discuss flex time, clarify what that means to both of you. Does that mean working Monday through Thursday, for 40 hours and having Friday off, or does it mean coming into work from 7 to 3, so that you can pick up the kids from school? Your goal is to get a mutual understanding.
In your analysis, if you notice something that was offered in a conversation, but it's not in the written offer you will want to request that be added. Finally, compare the offer to your current job, and additional offers from other companies you may have received. You want to be as objective as possible in your comparison, as the danger is that you make a decision based on emotion and not best fit. Compare the benefits, life choices, and work culture of the organizations that you're considering.
We've provided a worksheet to help you do this. Once you've compared your priorities to the offer, you are ready to go into the actual negotiation talks.
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