Sometimes, you don’t feel like celebrating even after landing a job offer.
If you’re not sure whether you want the job and your gut is telling you to hold off on accepting, what should you do?
Consider these tips and learn how to buy more time so you can make the best decision.
Frederick L. Shelton
I’ve been negotiating offers on behalf of attorneys for 25 years now. So while I’m sure you’ll be bombarded with tactics about what to do, I think a valuable counter-balance would be to also inform everyone about what not to do.
Here are my insights on the 4 critical mistakes to avoid, as well as a couple of strategies that can be employed:
While there are myriad delaying strategies, it is essential to avoid the four most common mistakes made in these situations.
Make sure that your delay isn’t due to analysis paralysis
If you have specific and legitimate reasons for a delay (such as pending offers from competitors), fine. But I’ve seen the most brilliant people on earth, overthink things to such a degree, they simply couldn’t make a decision and thus, lost a job they would have truly benefitted from.
Lies have a way of being discovered and whether they are discovered before or after the position has been obtained, they mark you as someone who is loose with the truth. This creates distrust.
Don’t ghost an employer as a means of delaying
I have seen Harvard, Yale & Colombia grads from the most sophisticated law firms in the world, commit this faux pas. This sends a very clear message that you are both unprofessional and inconsiderate.
Don’t tell the employer you’re waiting on other offers
This doesn’t mean you need to hide the fact you’re interviewing with multiple employers. Nor does it mean that there aren’t ways to use competition as a negotiating strategy. You just don’t want them to feel like they are going to be the company you settled for if nothing else came through.
When needing more time to consider an offer, remember it’s a two-way street. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.
Candidates will tolerate a company taking months to make a decision but feel often guilty or unprofessional if they request even a modicum of time, to do the same. They shouldn’t. Because the consequences of such decisions have ten times greater impact on the employee than the employer.
If Microsoft doesn’t get to hire you, no one will even notice. But if you commit your career to the wrong company, years of your life can be negatively impacted.
When requesting such time, be diplomatically honest. Don’t lie, ghost or pit employers against each other.
As a matter of fact, it can be even more effective and make you more desirable, if you go out of your way to let the potential employer that it’s not about who is offering the highest salary but rather, more about the corporate equivalent of “soft skills” sought in employees (i.e. corporate culture, long term considerations, etc.) which is commonly the case with high-end professionals.
If one employer is in fact, offering significantly more than the other, we use a strategy called transferring the problem. Simply tell the employer the situation and ask them if they can understand your dilemma.
This puts the ball in their court and will also be revealed in the following ways:
- If they tell you that you should work for them without any consideration of the circumstances, that shows a lack of empathy that you should know about.
- If they begin selling you on the virtues of their company, that reveals you’re in a strong negotiating position and have earned the right to say, “Then I hope you can understand why I need just a bit of time to carefully consider my entire future.”
- The third possibility is that they may actually ask for time so they can go to management and ask for a better offer on your behalf. This is optimal as it accomplishes the extension of time needed, and also procures a better offer that may make the decision easier for you.
Elene Cafasso, MCC
Executive Mentor and Coach | Owner, Enerpace, Inc.
Generally, folks need more time to consider a job offer for one of these reasons:
- They’re awaiting a decision/offer from another employer and want to take the best opportunity.
- They’re hoping their current employer will provide an incentive to stay.
- They’re dissatisfied with some aspect of the offer.
- There is a personal situation to work through. For instance, relocating their family or finding new childcare arrangements.
- The employer making the offer has given them an unreasonably short time to reply.
- They’re indecisive and afraid to make the “wrong” decision.
Ask clarifying questions
How best to ask for more time really varies based on which situation applies. For reasons # 1 & 2 above, it would be really rare to have a potential employer wait more than a week. However, you can stop the clock from ticking by asking some clarifying questions about the offer, or requesting additional information.
Sometimes folks ask to see detailed information on benefits, vacation policies, etc. as a stall technique. Or, negotiate some aspect of the offer to obtain more time.
Tell the truth
At the end of the day, telling the truth also works. “I’ve been told I’m receiving an offer from another firm, which I should have by this date. No matter what happens with their timing, I’ll give you my decision by this date.”
With reason number 3, it is expected that you will make a counter-offer on the salary, backed up by your research on the appropriate salary range for this position for someone with your experience.
Discuss work compensation, terms, and conditions
Alternatively, think about what you may value more than salary – – flexibility of scheduling or work location, additional vacation days, more contribution to insurance, etc. Those are appropriate items to negotiate as well. Is the ability to work at home 2 days each week worth $5,000 in salary to you? $10,000? There are no right or wrong answers – it depends on your unique situation.
When family members are impacted or a move is required, it’s fair to ask for more time to explore the issues and find solutions. In the case of a relocation, moving benefits can be negotiated as well. You may need to take your family to check out the new town, the schools, etc. Hopefully, the firm will provide assistance with that, which will speed up the timeline.
If the company is only willing to give you 24 hours to make a decision, I think that is a giant red flag.
They’ll never treat you better than when they are recruiting you. If they are unreasonable, desperate or bullying, that gives you a significant warning about the type of culture you’ll be walking into. Proceed with caution – – especially if the interview process has been going on for months? Why is it so urgent now? Probe a bit on that one!
Finally, how you conduct yourself in these negotiations is part of your professional brand that you are creating with your new employer. Do you want to be seen as wishy-washy and unable to make a decision? Do you want to appear fact-based, professional and efficient?
Every interaction throughout the interviewing and offer process is setting the stage for your career with that firm. Prepare, plan and practice your responses at each stage!
Related: How to Negotiate a Salary Offer
Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)
Though I’m now retired, during my 41-year career, I’d successfully gone job-hunting six times (and been offered promotions that would require relocation several other times). And nearly every time that I was offered a new position, I asked for a bit more time to consider the job offer by using the method described below.
This was not a so-called negotiating tactic but was simply a way to get enough time to discuss the ramifications of accepting the new position with one or more significant others.
Advise them that you need to discuss the offer with your significant other
Thus, when I received a job offer that appeared to require an immediate response, I always replied:
“Since I’m part of a two-income household and this decision will have a big impact on my wife, I need some time to discuss the ramifications of the decision with her. Can I call back and let you know within 48 hours?”
Since most of the offers that I received involved a move to another location, these were significant decisions. So it wasn’t merely a ‘money decision’: the specific location and the likelihood of my wife finding suitable job opportunities also came into play.
In most instances, the combination of salary, location and job opportunities (for her) were acceptable, but twice they were not. And on those two occasions, after we closely considered the offer, I had to decline. (I wasn’t simply looking for more money, but relocation can be a huge step!)
After a tentative job offer, I never had a potential employer say that they had to have an immediate decision. In general, employers want to hire folks who will be a good ‘fit’ and make solid long-term contributions to their organizations!
Gina Curtis, SHRM-CP, aPHR
Executive Recruiting Manager, JMJ Phillip Group | Executive Trainer, Employment BOOST
It is completely acceptable to ask for time to consider a job offer but as always, these situations should always be handled in a professional manner to avoid causing any red flags.
Express gratitude and be honest
Thank the company for the offer and let them know you will need some time to think about the offer they have presented. Work with the hiring manager to figure out an appropriate time frame for you to return with your decision.
Whatever you do, do not ask for more time after the “consideration period”
If you start to push the frame back, it can make it look like you are stalling or trying to get a counteroffer from your current company.
President & Founder, Global Healthcare Services (GHS Recruiting)
When asking for more time to consider a job offer you must tread lightly. Say too much and you risk insulting your potential new employer and having the offer rescinded. Say too little, and their imagination starts to create all sorts of nasty scenarios.
Be honest and transparent
Whatever the reason is that you are requesting more time, be sure to be as honest and transparent as possible – and remember to respect the potential employer’s process.
Keep in mind, their interview process is on hold (and the vacancy remains unfilled) until they have your decision.
Some good ways to diplomatically buy more time to consider an include the following:
- Ask for additional information on benefits, vacation, bonus structure, housing in the area, or other details that they may have to work to get answers to you.
- Express that you wish to discuss with your significant other (or a mentor) and that you will not be able to sit down together until a future time.
- If you simply are unsure if you want the position due to the compensation, then it may be time to counter with a number that you will 100% accept the position.
- Lastly, if you are willing to lose the offer, you can be honest about any and all of your concerns and see if you can work with them to make the position more palatable for you to accept.
Overall, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to make a decision as swiftly as possible after you have had a reasonable time to consider. But, if you need a little extra time the solutions above should work just fine!
Career Advisor | Hiring Manager, Resume Companion
Whether you’re juggling multiple job offers, or just uneasy about accepting a position, there will likely come a time when you have to ask for more time to consider a job offer.
Figuring out how to do this in a polite, professional manner is always awkward and difficult, but fortunately, there’s a right way to ask.
Express your appreciation for the opportunity and reply immediately
Even if you’re asking for more time, it’s important that you don’t leave the hiring manager waiting for your response. You also don’t want to leave the hiring manager with the impression that you aren’t enthusiastic about working there, especially if you think you may want to accept the offer later on.
From there, you have a couple of options to extend your time. The first (and probably best) is to be upfront and tell the hiring manager that you need a little time to think about the offer.
Most hiring managers understand that there are personal circumstances that candidates need to consider, and anticipate that not all candidates will accept on the spot.
Establish a deadline for the decision
However, when you ask for time to consider the offer, make sure you establish a deadline so that the hiring manager knows when to expect your final decision. Just saying “I’ll get back to you” is unprofessional and will likely leave a bad impression with the hiring manager.
Additionally, if you need an abnormal amount of time, ask the hiring manager if there’s a deadline to the offer. If you think that won’t be enough, try asking them about the possibility of an extension. This is likely your best bet if you need to maximize the amount of time you have before making your final decision.
Especially at larger companies, any negotiations or counter-offers will have to be discussed internally between HR and management, so this deliberation process will buy you some time until the company reaches back out to you.
However, if a company is understaffed or looking to fill a position quickly, they may try to end negotiations and respond to you as quickly as possible — so if you’re trying to buy a significant amount of time this may not be your best option.
Ultimately, most employers understand that candidates may need some time to consider an offer. However, you want to be sure you don’t give the hiring manager the impression that you’re unappreciative or trying to string them along.
In order to avoid this, be honest with them, set specific dates, and express gratitude for the offer.
General Manager of Legal Division, Lucas Group
As a good rule of thumb, I think candidates need to have a good reason for why they need additional time. It shouldn’t be dishonest, but over my 15+ years in the recruiting industry, I’ve heard it all.
Some of the excuses are reasonable and/or valid, and the company will grant the extension without much pushback. However, if the reason sounds like the candidate is being wishy-washy or worse – leveraging another offer or negotiating a counteroffer with their existing employer – I’ve seen companies rescind offers.
Either way, goodwill, and momentum are lost with the potential employer if a candidate provides a poor excuse for needing more time.
Here are some examples of acceptable reasons to extend time:
Review the compensation package
If it is a complicated compensation package that includes walking away from stock, equity or other unique benefits (usually at the executive level), I’ve had candidates ask for time to meet with their CPA to be sure they understand the financial differences and potential tax consequences.
Personal issues can play a significant role in delaying a decision, such as the birth of a child or family illness that requires an extension of time to focus on family.
Sometimes, a spouse travels and a face-to-face discussion is necessary before undertaking a very important, life-changing decision and, because of scheduling issues, the candidate requires an extension of time.
Occasionally, a candidate will need more time because of work-related interruptions at their existing employer. For example, in the legal context, an attorney may have an M&A or Commercial Real Estate closing that necessitates late nights and intense focus to get to closing.
If this is the stated reason, it shows dedication to their clients, loyalty to their colleagues, and general conscientiousness by doing right by their current employer.
Generally speaking and absent the above circumstances, if a candidate needs additional time to “think about it,” it means it’s not the right opportunity and they’re likely to reject the offer.
As a recruiter, we can recognize those signs and, absent an honest/understandable reason, recommend they don’t waste any more of the company’s time and decline the offer.
Business Coach | Creator, The Consultant Code
While accepting on the spot shows excitement, it’s also jumping the gun a bit and you could lose your leverage power to negotiate aspects of the offer.
Here’s how I recommend job seekers respond:
I am truly grateful for your generous offer and am excited about the opportunity to work for <company name>. I am going to take the next <# of days> to consider the offer and I will be in touch with you on <x day>.
I hope this timing is agreeable to you, I am happy to discuss further if you have any questions or concerns. Best, <name>.
Once you request this time, use it! Think about all aspects of the offer and decide if there are any you’d like to negotiate.
Rebecca Henninger, MA, CPRW, CEIC
Career Coach, Rebecca Henninger Career Services
You’ve updated your resume, gone through hoops to complete the application, done all your homework, aced the interview, and now you are at the finish line! The job offer, while certainly exciting, can also add stress to the already challenging job search process.
When you are considering multiple offers (or perhaps waiting for the one you really had your heart set on), keeping a few best practices in mind will ensure you don’t burn bridges.
Always acknowledge the offer quickly
Nothing sets you off on the wrong foot faster than putting off the simple courtesy of confirming receipt.
Be gracious and appreciative
Whether or not the offer is exactly what you had hoped, there has been a considerable amount of effort exerted by each party to get here.
Asking for 3 to 4 days max is a good rule of thumb. Most employers will expect that you need time to think about it, weigh the options, and consider the total package.
Asking for more time and providing a date and time by which you will respond shows respect for the process and for everyone’s time.
Be honest, but remember that this is a negotiation
If you have other offers on the table, let them know. If you just can’t make the offer work financially, or if the value that you would deliver warrants more, recommend a reasonable alternative—preferably with quantified examples of ROI in previous positions. Keep in mind that salary ranges are the best way to counter.
First off, one of the worst things you can do when trying to delay a job offer is to ghost the employer in an attempt to buy more time. The hiring manager will view a non-response as a “no,” and this tactic will backfire every time.
If you’re undecided about the position or if you’re waiting on a more appealing offer, you still need to communicate.
Show appreciation and verify the deadline
First and foremost, show appreciation by thanking them for the offer, as well as the time they’ve put into the hiring process. Then ask, “Is there a deadline date for me to respond to the offer?” This will buy you more time to make a decision that you’re confident about.
If they do specify a date that doesn’t seem realistic, it’s ok to counter with, “Unfortunately, that’s a bit tight for me. Do you have any flexibility? Would it be possible for me to let you know either way by [alternative date]?”
Or, in the case where you have other interviews in progress, you can offer, “I have other interviews lined up over the next two weeks and have an obligation to follow through on those. However, this is certainly my leading choice. May I please complete what I have in motion and follow up with you promptly after?”
The employer will appreciate your honesty and your sense of responsibility to fulfill your commitments. Plus, if they really want you, 1-2 weeks isn’t an unreasonable time to wait.
You do, however, want to be efficient and timely in your decision making. Remember, it’s expensive for an employer to keep a role open.
CEO, InspiHER Tech | Career Strategist
Don’t wait until you have the offer and set expectations with the main point of contact upfront.
Ask about their interviewing and offer process. Let them know that you are on an active job search and hope to be considering more than one offer over the next few weeks.
At the point, they extend their offer you may ask for a couple of extra days to wrap things up with other interviews. You hope this will not be a problem.
If you are already at the point of offer then I suggest you thank the company for the offer and let them know you have 1 or 2 other interviews you are wrapping up and would like to know if you can have X number of days to complete your process.
Usually, you can get up to as much as a week especially if this is a solid company. More than that would be unfair to the company and to other job seekers.
Managing Attorney, Penney & Associates
As the managing partner of Penney and Associates for over 25 years, I have had quite a lot of experience hiring people. The best answer to the question is quite simple. Employers want employees that will be an asset to the company.
Be honest if you have other employment offers
When employers hear that other companies want to hire you, then that piques their interest as that gives them confirmation that you are a good candidate.
I say always advise the employer straight up that you have other offers you are looking at, but are very interested in working for them.
I usually will put that candidate on the top of the pile knowing that they are sought after by others.
Matthew W. Burr
Human Resources Consultant, Burr Consulting, LLC
The best approach is to be honest about your personal process
If you are interviewing for a different position or waiting to hear on an offer or opportunity, be open. If you want more time to discuss with the family, keep the communication channels open.
If you lie about it and the company somehow finds out, it’s not a great start with the organization. Job offers should take time to consider, it is a big decision.
Employment Counselor, Mint Resume
Tell the truth why you want to ask for more time to consider the job offer
Tell the employer that you’re considering other job offers and opportunities. This implies that you are very much employable and that there’s competition so, they would see your value. If you’re still trying to decide whether the pay compensates for the job and other financial reasons, let them know.
Maybe they can stretch the pay to your desired amount. Just tell them an honest and reasonable explanation as to why you want to buy time. Also, it’s best to ask when they need your answer or decision. Don’t keep them waiting for this opportunity might slip away.
Director of Operations, MyCorporation
Be timely when responding back and do not ghost the potential employer
I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a job candidate to request a bit of time to consider a job offer before accepting it. One full day (24 hours) would be an acceptable amount of time to review the offer before getting back to the hiring manager with your answer.
If you have any questions during this time, you should ask them before you accept or decline the position as well.
Joseph P. McClelland, III, Esq.
Consumer Attorney, Jackson Law
As a small business owner who has hired several employees over the years, I think we approach the topic differently than if you were applying for a job at a large corporation.
At a corporation, no one’s feelings are going to be hurt if you need more time. It’s just business.
However, if it is a small outfit, then not immediately taking the offer may very well be a personal rejection because they picked you personally for the job. Their job and identity may have become intertwined as the boss or owner.
Tell them you’ll discuss it with your family
If you don’t really want it, you may hurt their feelings in a lasting way. If you tell them that you are waiting for a competing offer, then you’re toast.
In the case of asking a small company for more time to consider a job offer, I would express how much you want the job, but you need to more time to fully discuss it with your family or spouse, as you do other important things that will have an impact on them.
CMO, GoodLife Home Loans
While it’s understandable to have a desire to ask for more time when taking into consideration a potential job offer, the harsh reality is that how attainable that desire is completely dependent on the company itself and how urgently they are looking to hire somebody.
The earlier in the interview process the company is, the more time you’ll likely have to mull the decision over. What should be done after the interview is hypothetically going over scenarios where you’re offered the job and compare that to other jobs you’ve interviewed for.
That will help you make a list according to a preference for which companies you liked more, which ones would be an immediate yes if offered the job vs. ones you feel you’d need to consider for a little bit.
Don’t tell the company that you want more time. Instead, frame it as a “Would it be possible to think about this for 24 hours?”
This should give you time to weigh that particular job vs any you’ve already interviewed for and are waiting to hear back on. Ask yourself that if you turn down your current offer in hopes of a better offer coming through, what will you do if that latter offer doesn’t pan out either? Will you be kicking yourself for not accepting the initial job offer?
These questions should be pondered before any official offer comes your way so you’re not caught off-guard.
Business Consultant | CMO, Maple Holistics
It is definitely better to delay an acceptance than to accept and change your mind or even worse, accept and regret your decision.
Express sincere gratitude for the offer and ask for a day or two
Assuming that there are no unanswered questions about pay, benefits/PTO, or growth that should have been addressed during the interview, everything should be clearly spelled out.
If your hesitation is something that can be negotiated with the prospective employer, this is the time to openly ask for what you want, but be prepared for rejection or negotiation.
There is also the chance that the offer could be rescinded if they feel that you are stalling only to wait for something else, leaving them to begin their search again.
If there is pressure to accept or even a rescinded offer, that is a big red flag, is this someone I want to be working for/with? Without burning any bridges, you should in writing, either accept or graciously turn the offer down.