Accepting and Negotiating Your Offer

When you get a job offer, it’s time to decide how you want to move forward. You may want to accept it, decline it, or take some time to consider it depending on a few factors. This page will take you through these different scenarios and help you figure out the right steps to take.

I want to accept the job offer!

If you’re at this point, you’re likely pretty excited – and you should be! But you shouldn’t have to accept a job offer on the spot. Ask the employer for a couple days to evaluate the offer and discuss it with family members and significant others. If you are waiting for another offer to come through, ask the employer when they need to know your answer and ask for an extension if you need one. Employers know you are interviewing with other organizations and will appreciate you being honest and careful about your decision. Learn more below about how to consider a job offer.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

How to Formally Accept

Here are some guidelines we recommend:

  • Follow up the offer with an acceptance email to the employer that expresses your appreciation for the offer and spells out any specifics that were discussed (in the event that a contract is not provided). The specifics could include: an agreed upon start date, flexible schedule of hours, starting salary, evaluation at six months instead of twelve months, sign-on bonus, relocation expenses, etc.
  • If you don’t receive a response, follow up via the phone in a few days with the employer to ensure that the acceptance letter was received and the specifics are agreeable to all parties.
  • Establish a start time with your supervisor and expectations during the first week. Try to gain as much information as possible about what will be expected during the first days on the job.

Negotiating the Offer

If you want to negotiate the offer, you must be clear what it is that you want out of the negotiation. It’s most common to ask for a higher salary, but you can also ask about additional options for vacation time, benefits, and more.

Negotiate from the standpoint of what you bring to the organization, and continue to express enthusiasm!

Before the date you must get back to them, email or call the employer and say:

• “I’m still very interested in the position, and I believe I can bring _______, _______, and _______ to the organization. I’m wondering, is it possible to enhance the offer in terms of salary (vacation, benefits, opportunities for review, etc.)?

• Don’t say anything else! Do not fill in the silence! Let them speak first. See what they have to say. (Utilizing this “silence” strategy, oftentimes employers will fill in the silence with a number).

If the employer says “Yes”:

• If they give you what you want, thank them and tell them you’ll get back to them by the deadline.

If the employer says “Maybe”:

• If they say they’ll have to get back to you, ask when you should be hearing from them or when you should call them back.

• If they ask “what did you have in mind?:” Ask “what do you think is possible?”; or give them a range of what you are looking for

If the employer says “No”:

• If they say no, say: “Okay, thanks, I’ll still get back to you by _____.”

I'm considering the job offer...

Taking a job is a big decision, and you should take the time to evaluate the job offer from every angle. You want to make sure that the job is the right fit for you, your current needs, and your goals.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Questions to Ask to Evaluate a Job Offer

You should really begin evaluating organizations and positions before you get an offer. The following questions can help you throughout the entire application process (deciding to apply, preparing a resume and cover letter, preparing for an interview, etc.):

  • Why is the position open? How long has the position been posted?
  • Do the daily work activities appeal to you?
  • What might you expect to be doing over the next three to five years?
  • How do promotional opportunities become available?
  • How are employees encouraged to continue their professional development over the long term?
  • What kind of training is provided for prospective supervisors or managers?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s management?
  • Is the company growing or downsizing?
  • What are the employer’s values?
  • What kinds of people are most successful or satisfied at the company?

Evaluate the Salary

Prior to going into an interview:  

  • Know what you are worth and what the market will bear  
  • Do your research on typical compensation packages 

Remember to consider your level of experience when setting your expectations. You should also take into account the size and budget of the organization making the offer. Know what the market will bear. If possible, find out what the salary range is for the specific job you’re interviewing for. 

The only reason to negotiate salary is to get fair market value for your skills, experience, and knowledge. 

Two things need to happen before salary negotiations take place: 

  1. You have received a formal offer, preferably in writing 
  2. You have evaluated the entire job offer package and researched what the market will pay for your services in this field. 

This research will provide you with the evidence you need to determine if the salary offered is reasonable or whether you should make a case for a higher salary 

Your success in negotiating a higher salary is contingent on data you have which suggests your market value is higher than reflected in the offer. New college grads don’t always have the experience or expertise to warrant a higher salary. However, there are exceptions. 


Below are some “positions of strength” for new grads:  

  • You have gained relevant work experience through internships or summer jobs which positively impacts your ability to do the job  
  • You have a particular technical expertise which is in high demand  
  • You have a degree in a specific and sought-after area of expertise  
  • You have a written offer from another company that states a higher salary 
  • In addition to knowing your market value, you also need to know what you want and where you are willing to compromise. Salary is only one part of a total compensation package. 

Comprehensive Salary Data Resources

We know it’s not all about the cash, but it’s a good idea to make sure your expectations are realistic. These resources can help with that. They can also help you determine your worth and whether your offer is a good fit for your lifestyle and needs.

Cost of Living Calculators

As much as we want everyone to stay in Wisconsin and never leave, we know that’s not always the case (though we hope you come back and visit… or forever). Use these calculators to determine what your salary means in your new city.


Benefits include things like paid time off (PTO), health and other insurance, and retirement plans. Learn all about the ins and outs of benefits with our guide below.

Guide to Common Job Benefits

I want to decline the job offer.

Whether you have another offer you’d like to accept instead or you just decided that this job isn’t the right fit for you, you’ll want to make sure to professionally decline the offer and communicate your intentions to the employer.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Turning Down Other Job Offers

If you’ve decided to decline the job offer (or once you’ve accepted another offer), it is appropriate, professional, and ethical to inform all other employers (to which you have applied) of your decision and to withdraw your application from consideration. Your withdrawal letter should express appreciation for the employer’s consideration and courtesy. It may be appropriate to state that your decision to go with another offer was based upon having a better fit with your professional goals at this stage in your career.

  • DO NOT say that you obtained a better job. Professionally state that you took a position that you felt was a better fit for you at this time.
  • DO NOT continue to interview after you have formally accepted an offer. People talk and you don’t want to burn any bridges or waste anyone’s time! When you want to officially turn down an offer, it’s recommended that you put it in writing. Rejecting an employment offer should be done thoughtfully and carefully. This could be a future employer one day. Indicate in the letter that you have carefully considered the offer and have decided not to accept it. Also, be sure to thank the employer for the offer and for consideration of you as a candidate.

Sample Job Offer Rejection Letter

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your employment offer to be an Assistant Director with XYZ, Inc. Unfortunately, I am writing to inform you that I am unable to accept the offer. After evaluating all opportunities available to me for the best fit at this point in my career, I have decided to accept another position.

I truly enjoyed meeting and speaking with you and other representatives from XYZ, Inc. and learning firsthand about your experiences. Best wishes for the continued success of XYZ, Inc.

Thank you again for your consideration.

Chris Badger