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How to Respond to a Tentative Job Offer

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After one or more job interviews, you wait expectantly for a job offer. Sometimes you will receive an oral or written offer that is contingent on certain events' occurring before the offer is made final. Contingencies might include your passing a background check, medical or psychological exams, or the company receiving grant money it needs to pay for the position. Whatever the case, you can exercise certain common courtesies when you respond to a tentative job offer, even if you don't know for certain whether you will accept the position.

Show gratitude to your potential employer. If the offer is verbal, respond in kind with a polite "thank you." If you receive a written offer, proper etiquette dictates that you send a thank-you letter.

Restate what the offer entails. Ask for more detail on any aspect of the offer that is unclear.

Ask for an idea of when the employer can let you know for sure if you have the job. Generally an employer will understand if you need time to think about your next career move and should grant you this, especially if the offer includes relocation.

Tip

Make a list of pros and cons about the job offer. Seeing the information in black and white can help you decide.

Use your partner or a trusted friend as a sounding board. He can help you think about any areas you might not have considered.

Warning

Continue with your job search in case this offer falls through. You might hope for the best, but you should be prepared for the worst, just in case.

Avoid playing games or lying to future employers about potential offers. While it's OK to say something like "I'm leaving my options open" or "I'm considering another offer," don't give a prospective employer false figures or time frames.

Negotiate any details you need to iron out with a potential employer. You can ask for better benefits, flexible work hours, more vacation time or a different bonus structure. However, if you push too hard, be aware it could backfire on you and cause the employer to rescind a job offer.

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