What to do before you accept a new job offer

What to do before you accept a new job offer

Accepting a job offer is a big deal, but failing to follow best practices might leave you with regret.

It’s common for candidates to react and make hasty decisions when they receive a job offer. I get it – you’re excited and want to get the party started.

But remember that you’ll likely be with this company for several years. If there’s an issue with the offer, or if you fail to negotiate properly, it can cost you thousands of dollars.

Don’t worry though. We’re here to help. We’re going to walk you through a few things you must do before signing an offer letter.

Don’t accept it when it’s offered

I know you’re excited, but whatever you do, don’t verbally accept the offer when the recruiter presents it to you.


  • You need to review it in writing
  • You should take 24-48 hours to think it over
  • You need to get prepared to negotiate

At best, you will leave thousands of dollars on the table by verbally agreeing. At worst, you’ll leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table and may inadvertently agree to something you’re not on board with.

The solution is simple – say this:

“Thank you so much! I’m super excited about the team and the opportunity. Is it alright if I take ~48 hours to review it? And will you send me the formal offer letter in writing?”

There is nothing wrong with that request. Show your excitement, ask for it in writing, and ask for more time to review. Easy.

One final note: don’t take more than 48 hours to get back to them. You could put yourself at risk of getting the offer rescinded.

Review the offer for these important pieces

It’s tedious, but take the time to read every word of the offer letter. There are a few things to review closely:

Total Compensation 

Salary + equity + bonuses = total compensation. You’re going to negotiate this. Repeat after me: I’m going to negotiate this.

There is ZERO reason not to ask for more. You should always do it. Recruiters will offer you at the minimum of the band and there’s always wiggle room.

I recently wrote about pay transparency and shared a story where a friend’s salary range was $80k-150k. If that’s your pay range and you don’t negotiate your offer, you’ll probably get $80-90k and leave $50k+ on the table!

Look at our end-to-end guide on salary negotiations to get the help you need. Better yet, get tailored advice from our AI negotiation coach by signing up on FairComp.

Benefits and Perks

At this point, you’ve probably discussed vacation days, health insurance and a number of other benefits. Just because you talked about them verbally, doesn’t mean they’ll be followed through on. That’s why it’s important to ensure that these are all included in your offer letter – so make sure they’re there. If they aren’t, ask the recruiter to add them or find another way to document them.

Here’s a list of things to look out for:

  • Sick and vacation days
  • Health savings account (HSA)
  • Insurance policies (health, dental, vision)
  • 401k and matching (if any at all)
  • Additional perks like travel reimbursements or paid time off

Start Date

There are two things to look for here:

  1. Does the start date work for you? It’s usually negotiable, so if you need extra time before you get to work, you should request it.
  2. Any type of probationary period. Sometimes companies indicate that they can fire you in the first 30-60-90 days with little to no reason. You need to know if you’re committing to that.

Always negotiate your offer!

You can read more on negotiating an offer with our guide here, but we’ll provide some high-level guidance.

There are two channels to negotiate:

  1. Send them an email (we have a guide for this too)
  2. Make the request verbally

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do it. Some people prefer email, others prefer to ask verbally. What’s most important is that you show your excitement and rationalize why you’re asking for that amount (more on that here).

Whether phone or email, here are two negotiation tactics you can use:

Negotiation Style 1: Anchor High

It can be smart to ask for 10 - 20% above the number you are shooting for with this new offer. The recruiter is likely to counter offer with something lower (often claiming that they have reached the “max” they can offer). But if you’ve gone 10 - 20% higher than your target number, you’re more likely to get an offer than matches your expectations, even with a counter offer. If you’re looking for $100k and you share that upfront, your offer will likely come in at $90k. Instead, start the conversation at $120k and your chances of hitting $100k increase.

Negotiation Style 2: Best and Final

With this negotiation tactic, make a clear argument for what you want and then make it clear that you’ll take nothing less (but be polite—don’t forget that an employer can rescind an offer if something feels off, even in the stage of the hiring process). Consider a statement like this: “I don’t want to go back and forth. I want to work here, but given my experience, the requirements for the role, and what other companies are talking to me about, I want $100k in base salary and I’ll sign today.”

Third, consider other creative ways to earn more. Your total compensation isn’t just about salary. Some companies are more flexible with equity, bonuses, and other areas of comp. If you’ve already asked about the salary range and the compensation philosophy prevents the recruiter from going higher on salary, ask for equity, a higher annual bonus, or a sign-on bonus.

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