Whether it takes you days, weeks or months, getting an offer to join a company is always exciting but it can be ripe with pitfalls depending on how you handle the steps following your shiny new offer. The good news, the company has shown their cards, they want you, but this is where it’s important for you to be aware of your actions. How you decide to respond will show your true colors as to what type of employee you will be and it will lay the foundation for what the relationship will become with your new employer.
Should you negotiate on salary? Should you wait on that offer from the big dog in your space? Should you hold onto the first offer and let your network know to create a bidding war? Or if it’s dependent on the situation, which ones should you raise your hand and say, “More, please" without looking like a jerk and losing everything altogether.
With so many pitfalls in front of you, one small step can ruin everything. Stressed? Well, don’t be because it’s not always as complicated as it appears.
The simple guiding light is to act like the employee you are rather than a free agent with nothing to lose. In other words, how you treat the offer conversation is ultimately your first day on the job.
Let’s simplify things with a few down and dirty tips on what to do when you get an offer to ensure you position yourself in the right way without leaving anything on the table.
In markets like Seattle, I've increasingly seen a trend where there are so many large companies out there that when a medium sized company makes a compelling offer, it's almost understood that the candidate will wait until hearing from the giants prior to making a decision. While I understand that the opportunity to work at a giant might seem appealing for a variety of reasons, waiting to see if they make an offer only makes the first mover feel like a consolation prize. No one wants to feel like they were the second choice, so if you do end up taking that job, they'll always have the impression that you "settled".
What to do instead? If you truly want to wait it out for your first choice, try to hone in on what it would take for the company that already made you an offer to come out as your #1 and compel you to take the "Bird in hand" approach. Everyone is motivated by different things so whether it's money, benefits, cool projects, or commute flexibility, you need to figure out what matters most to you and transparently communicate that with the company that’s already extended you an an offer.
Ask yourself, what would it take for me to accept this offer right now?
If there's nothing that the company can do to make you jump over the "chance" of working somewhere else, the job just ain't it for you; you'll always end up looking for that "right fit" even when you're employed at the new company.
Do your homework. Know your value and understand what your skills are worth in the current market by doing your research and being honest with yourself as to where you sit comparatively.
When it comes to salary conversations, transparency is key. If you only have 5 years of experience and you’re planning to ask for a salary that reflects someone that’s been in the role for 8 years, be prepared to make that case using market data and results from how you’ve performance in similar roles. If you've done your homework, and the salary they’re offering you is right in line with the industry, your experience and geography, don't just negotiate for the heck of it. Play the long game and focus on proving your value to the organization by demonstrating clear justification for why you should receive more than your peers.
Above all, it’s important to recognize that every situation is different but what's constant is how you truly feel inside. When you have that offer in hand, think about how much you want that job prior to blindly waiting for other opportunities or asking for more greenbacks. Ultimately, the difference of a few hundred dollars in your paycheck doesn't trump the feeling of going into work loving (or hating) every second of being there.