You aced the interview and now you have received an offer letter for a new job. Wondering what comes next? Negotiate and accept your offer like a pro

Getting an offer letter for a job is always an exciting situation to find yourself in! While it is certainly cause for celebration, make sure you stay focused on getting through the process of reviewing, negotiating, and accepting an offer.

Of course, you are likely going to share your news with those closest to you, but for now, you would want to avoid jumping on social media sites to announce your new position. Take a moment to appreciate your achievement in receiving an offer, then figure out what comes next.

Different companies will have varying processes for offering you a job; most will start with a verbal offer and then pretty quickly follow up with an offer letter that outlines everything in a bit more detail with a signature line for you to indicate you accept the terms outlined in the offer.

It is important to note that some employers may try to rush you or pressure you to sign on the spot. This is a red flag, and if they deny your request to thoroughly review the offer, they may not be the right fit for you.

Tips for Handling an Offer Letter

1) Reviewing the Written Offer

Once you have gone through the phases of interviewing and receiving a verbal offer of employment, you can expect to begin the process of handling a written offer letter.

The offer letter itself may be short, maybe a couple of pages, but it is likely to be accompanied by more comprehensive documentation that includes specific details that outline the position, expectations of you, your salary, bonus and the benefits package. Mandatory Arbitration, Confidentiality and Proprietary Rights and Inventions Assignment Agreements also typically accompany an offer letter. Your proposed compensation may include equity participation in the company in the form of stock options or grants and it is helpful to get as much information as you can up front, so that you can ask the right questions.

As exciting as it is to receive an offer letter, don’t jump to sign it on the spot. While everything may look great at first glance, there may be some provisions and terms you are missing or items you don’t fully understand. The importance of thoroughly reviewing each and every one of these documents cannot be overemphasized! Each document is a contract which will follow you throughout your employment at your new company—and potentially, beyond.

Employers should allow you to take some time to review the documents with counsel and ensure you are satisfied with the agreement and terms therein.

2) Negotiating the Offer

Once you have had a chance to review the letter and attachments thoroughly, ideally with the help of an employment attorney, you are then able to decide whether or not you would like to make a counteroffer.

It is important to now prepare yourself to highlight your qualifications and any other relevant details that demonstrate the value you bring to the position. This includes your education, experience, past performance, and anything else you feel pertinent to negotiations. This is the time to emphasize measurable accomplishments in your prior employment and how this will translate to your new position.

Your addition to the company may be worth paying a higher salary or bonus (at time of signing on or later), offering more vacation time, providing more in terms of a benefits package, perks, etc.

Another important consideration for executives when reviewing offer letters is the inclusion of non-compete agreements. These are common in some industries; however, they are void or narrowly construed in some states. This may be something you want to attempt to negotiate on the terms, as it can affect your future livelihood. By signing an offer letter that includes such an agreement, you may end up severely limiting your future job prospects. This is another area where the guidance of an experienced employment attorney is invaluable.

While reviewing a new job offer, it may seem grim to think about, but you should also consider what, if anything, is being offered in terms of a severance or exit package.

Of course, it feels almost unnatural to anticipate losing a job before you have even signed on to start, but it is wise to be aware of what would be available to you if you were to find yourself losing this position down the road. Many times, a company will attach a draft form of Severance Agreement to an offer letter and thus, you are agreeing to it up front and may be waiving valuable rights.

Keep in mind that you must be reasonable when making a counteroffer. Don’t nitpick and negotiate on terms that aren’t crucial to you accepting the position. You don’t want to give the impression that you are not interested in the job. If you don’t seem attainable, the company may decide to move on to another candidate. Experienced counsel can guide you and help you prioritize negotiating points.

3) Accepting the Offer

Finally, assuming you were able to reach a mutually agreed upon offer package, you can now formally accept, sign, and celebrate!

Make sure to thank the hiring team and make an effort to send a letter or email to thank them for their time and consideration.

If you have also been entertaining other job offers, now is the time to send a quick note to advise them that you appreciate their consideration but have decided to accept a position elsewhere. This step is professional and courteous and may be useful if you do find yourself seeking employment there again in the future.

Keep you offer letter and attached agreements/documents handy! Review them again within the first month of your new employment. One mistake I often see clients make is glossing over the bonus opportunity for their position. Once they start their new positions, they neglect to follow up on goal setting & achievement requirements that trigger bonus pay outs. Sometime later, the employment relationship becomes tenuous and the employee wants to exit—with his/her bonus. Many times when I’ve asked an employee for his/her goals and accomplishments, the employee is unable to enumerate or quantify them. Don’t be that employee! Follow up with your supervisor, set those goals and document their achievement, so that you can collect!

In Summary

There is much more to a job offer than just skimming the letter, signing on the dotted line, and hoping for the best. Knowing what you bring to the table can help you negotiate terms that work for you and set you up for a better transition into your new role. It is highly advisable to make use of an experienced attorney to help you to negotiate the terms of your offer. Contact me today and I’ll ensure that you get the most out of your new position!