Take a moment to consider the process of interviewing for a new job. Typically, candidates experience three or more rounds of interviews, each requiring in-depth research and preparation. When candidates complete the final interview and learn that an offer is coming, it’s common to feel pressure to immediately accept.

Negotiating a job offer is one of the trickiest aspects of securing a new job. It can be awkward, frustrating, and take the wind out of the sails of (what felt like) an amazing opportunity. However, it is a crucial step for moving forward in your career. I’ve walked candidates through this process countless times and have experienced it as a candidate myself.

Here is what you should – and should not – do to ensure a smooth and gratifying process:

EXPECTATIONS

DO set proper expectations. The more information you provide at the beginning of the interview process, the smoother your offer negotiation process will go. Be upfront about what salary range you would need to be satisfied in the new role. Do you take a 2-week family vacation every year? Do you live an hour away and need remote work options? Be sure to provide all this information upfront so you don’t waste your time or the employer’s time.

DO NOT drastically change those expectations during the interview or offer process. Take the time to think about what you would need in order to take a new role before you start interviewing. Changing expectations may strain your relationship with the prospective company, and, in some cases, result in withdrawn offers.

NEGOTIATIONS

DO consider the entire offer package, not just the salary. What is included with health benefits? Is there a 401k match or pension program? Will there be a bonus structure? Are there annual reviews that result in raises? These benefits easily contribute more than a $5,000 swing on the base salary. I would suggest calculating the numerical yearly values of each of these benefits when weighing or comparing job offers.

DO NOT obsess over unnecessary details. Negotiation isn’t about gathering as many acorns as possible. Be reasonable with your requests and prioritize what really matters to you. Remember that establishing yourself as a team player begins during negotiations. Stick to what is important, otherwise, you may appear to be applying for the wrong reasons.

TIMELINESS

DO be responsive. A successful process requires constant communication from both parties. If there are questions or concerns that need to be addressed, the employer and candidate need to make themselves available to resolve them. A lapse on either side can take the excitement away from a role or create tension between the candidate and employer.

DO NOT drag out the process. While you should take 24 – 48 hours to consider a role before accepting, remain in constant consideration from the first interview. “Will I accept the role if they offer X?” Your family should be a part of this conversation as well, especially if it involves a move or a change in lifestyle.

COMMITMENT

DO honor your commitments. If you decide to accept an offer and sign on the dotted line, you should consider that a sacred vow. In the business world, your word is only as good as your actions. If you go back on a fully executed offer, you will damage your reputation and it can hurt your career.

DO NOT accept an offer without excitement. This is your career. You have made the leap of faith to go off into the unknown and have an opportunity to show a new group of people what you can do. Be pumped! If you are not, really ask yourself if this is the right move for you.

IN A NUTSHELL

DO accept a career offer.

DO NOT accept a job offer.

Navigating the job offer process can be some of the most stressful, yet exciting times of our lives. When taken seriously and done correctly, it can be the launching pad for your career.

About Max Caron

As a Senior Technical Recruiter and Account Manager, Max has experience in the trenches of IT agency recruiting and sales. He has managed full life cycle sourcing projects, created technical recruiter training programs, implemented applicant tracking systems, trained recruiters on the use of resume databases, and helped clients stay up to date with the latest EEO and OFCCP compliance laws.