Receiving a job offer

Before you leave your interview, try to establish who you will be hearing from and how you will hear the outcome. If there is a possibility that you will be made an offer at interview, or if it is likely that you will be telephoned, you need to think about your response to a job offer ahead of time.

What to do if you’re offered a job

When someone calls and offers you a job you’d really like, it’s easy to get carried away in the moment and say yes to whatever they’re proposing. But it pays to try to slow this process down. Employers recognise that taking on a new employee, just as any other transaction, is likely to be subject to some negotiation. It’s also well known that, the terms you negotiate on your way into an organisation form the basis for all your promotions and pay rises from then on, so it pays to get this right at the outset.

What can be negotiated?

It’s not just salary that can be negotiated. Other things that you can consider when negotiating your package include:

  • What’s included in the job description, particularly paths for growth and development during the first year
  • Bonus terms
  • Company car
  • Share options
  • Holidays
  • Sponsorship for education or training, eg degree or MBA
  • Benefits, such as health insurance
  • Where you will be based
  • Home working

An employer making an offer will almost always leave some ‘head room’ for negotiation on salary. Especially in small or medium sized companies, there may also be room for manoevre on the benefits available (larger companies may be constrained by standard combinations of benefits available in each job band, although salary bands tend to be wide, and the band you are hired at can itself be the subject of negotiation, so money may well be negotiable to a point).

So, when you receive a job offer, what should you say?

Preparing to receive a job offer

If you are expecting an offer by telephone, then keep a pen and paper close by (making sure the rest of the family know not to move them!), along with your notes for negotiation.

Before attending interview, make sure you’ve done your homework on the going salary for the job. Public sector jobs always have published pay scales, and the salary range is usually mentioned in the advertisement. For private sector jobs, a salary indication may be given, but you should also do your own research to understand whether this is a ‘good’, ‘average’ or ‘poor’ salary for the job. Use job hunting web sites or call recruiters and ask what kind of salary and benefits package this job should command.

Because job offers may be made directly by the hiring manager, or through human resources or an agent, throughout the rest of this article we refer to the person you are talking to as ‘the negotiator’. Bear in mind that the person who makes the offer may or may not be an experienced or confident negotiator, so be prepared to allow for that.