How Long to Wait Before Accepting a Job Offer? [Full Guide]

Getting a job offer is always exciting, but keeping composure and taking some time to think it over or negotiate is an important step in landing a job. Exactly how long should you take to consider a job offer?

Depending on the company and the industry, you should be able to stall the offer at least for a few days, if not a week. Companies usually give a response deadline, and if they don’t then you should ask them. It’s also reasonable to ask for an extension on this deadline and to stall by negotiating.

A good practice is to keep the time to a minimum. You may be able to hold off a job offer for a long time, and the best thing you can do is to ask them what the deadline is and for some time to decide.

Additionally, you could also mention your other offers to one of the potential employers to try to get them to make the offer sooner, so you don’t have to stall for a long time.

How Long Do You Have to Respond to a Job Offer?

person speaking on smartphone while looking at paper

You should be able to take at least a few days if not weeks to decide on accepting a job offer. When taking the time to reply to a job offer, you should consider a few factors, such as the industry, the position you’re applying for, and your skills.

Most companies will be happy to give you some time to think about a job offer, so unless you have other potential offers, you should have at least a week where you could hold off accepting a job offer through stalling and negotiations.

Should You Accept a Job Offer Immediately?

Unless you’ve got a perfect offer or you’re heavily desperate for a job, accepting an offer right away is generally considered a bad move. You may be able to negotiate your offer, and this is considered an important part of getting paid what your value is.

Your first job offer isn’t usually the maximum a company is offering, and there should always be room for negotiation. If you have multiple companies you’re in talks with, taking your time will allow for those offers to come in which is ultimately the best outcome for you.

Should You Accept a Job Offer While Waiting for Another One?

Unless you’re desperate for a job, if you’re waiting for another offer, the best thing would be not to accept the first one until you can hear from another employer. Try to find some way to delay your decision, and not sign anything until you hear from the other companies.

What to do when you get a job offer while waiting for another?

It’s OK to respond to a job offer without accepting it by saying you have other options and that you may need some time to decide. You can delicately pressure the preferred employer to move faster by saying how you’ve got a competing offer and that you may need to decide soon.

You could even push them a bit and say something along the lines of:

“I am very excited about your offer, but I am in the process with several other companies and may need some time to decide. Would it be possible to increase the offer to make this a no-brainer? If we can get it to $X, I will immediately accept and discontinue my other interviews.”

How to Delay a Job Offer? (Email Examples)

To delay a job offer acceptance, take your time with replies to that company, and tell them how you’re interested but you need time to consider. You can tell them you’re waiting for an answer from another company, and ask for more time. Give them a solid decision date, and stick to it.

Since employers are looking to finish the hiring process as soon as possible, you need to judge how long you think they will allow you to wait for an answer. Usually, about a week should be enough time to ask, but this will depend on the position and the industry.

Email examples to stalling a job offer

#1: “I appreciate the offer but do you mind if I have some time to think about it before I make a decision? Would you mind telling me a deadline for when I need to decide?”

#2 (if you’re waiting on multiple offers): “Thank you for the offer. I am currently waiting to hear back about another position and will give you a definitive answer within X amount of time. Does that work for you, and if not, when would you need to know by?”

Is Accepting a Job Offer Legally Binding?

Simply accepting a job offer without signing anything isn’t legally binding and there should be no legal consequences if you back out. However, if you signed a contract, there’s a small possibility that the document you signed constitutes a binding contract.

An offer letter isn’t legally binding in the US, though a proper contract may be. In most cases, you can safely change your mind and the only thing rescinding does is burn bridges and damage relationships with that employer.

Since most of us are “at will” employees, either party has the right to back out without legal penalty.

What to Do When Offered a Job Over the Phone?

When receiving a job offer over the phone, you should say how it’s great news and appreciate the opportunity, and ask when’s the final day to make your decision. Even if you accept verbally over the phone it’s still not official until you sign the contract.

The urgency in a reply and decision will depend on the industry, but you should usually be given at least a few days to think it over and if you’re not, consider it a red flag. You can also ask them to email you the details of the contract so you can look it over.

What to Say When Accepting a Job Offer?

When accepting a job offer through email, you can write an email back stating how you accept a job offer, and that you’re excited and are looking forward to getting started. You can say how you’re delighted to have received the formal offer and are looking forward to joining the team.

Is It OK to Accept Multiple Job Offers?

The best thing to do with multiple job offers is to stall them as much as possible, but if you can’t, you should be honest and ask for either an extended deadline or a sooner decision. If you accept more than one offer, you’ll have to back out of one eventually.

It’s usually not a great idea to accept multiple job offers because backing out of one of them is considered unprofessional, though it does happen.

Can You Accept a Job Offer and Then Back Out?

You can usually safely back out of an accepted job offer, especially if it was just verbally accepted or through an offer letter. Keep in mind that you might be burning bridges, and that’s a risk you may have to take. The best thing is to stall the offer before you accept anything.

The reason you can back out from an accepted offer is because of the at-will employment. This “at-will” ecosystem hugely benefits companies, and just as they can fire you on a whim, you can also back out, though it may depend on whether you signed anything and the laws in your state.

The consequences are mostly social. When you accept an offer you’re telling that party that you and they are exclusive, but what you’re really doing is being exclusive with another company as well. 

When you back out it’s called reneging, and you may be put on the “do-not-hire” list with that company, and that’s pretty much it. But if you have to back out, remember that this is just business, and you should do what’s best for your career. 

As long as you’re upfront and honest about getting a better offer, you’ll be fine. Just don’t make it a habit of declining offers after accepting, especially in a smaller community.

How do you decline a job offer you have already accepted?

The best thing you can do is be honest, and tell them as soon as possible so they have the time to find a replacement. In general, you can’t back out without some harm to your future chances with that company.

Don’t apologize, don’t feel bad, and be brief and direct. This stuff happens all the time, and there are probably dozens of applicants waiting in line to replace you.

Should you lie about having another offer?

There’s no reason to lie about the job offer to negotiate salary. Bluffs can be called, so be prepared for that if it happens, knowing that the result may be losing that job offer and being flagged for any future considerations. Lying carries a great risk of losing a great opportunity. 

Also, recruiters are connected, you never know who knows who and which offers might be impossible to get simply because you lied to get paid more. 

In any case, never mention the company and never name drop, whether you’re bluffing or not. People know people, and they might talk, even just casually.

Does a Job Offer Mean You Got the Job?

A job offer doesn’t mean you got the job, and nothing is certain until you’ve signed a contract with the new company. If you’re unsure, the best you can do is to call the HR department and try to confirm the offer.

You don’t want to quit your current job and find yourself in a potentially compromising position, so never leave your job until you have signed a contract. Even having an offer letter with another company isn’t a guarantee you got the job, and verbal “unofficial” job offers are worth even less.

Should You Tell Your Current Employer That You Have Another Offer?

Using a job offer to negotiate a raise at your current job is often a bad idea. Unless you have a great relationship with your boss, there will be a risk of them replacing you down the road, or the relationship may be a slow downhill slope from that point on.

Ask yourself: If you were worth a raise before, why didn’t they give you one before you approached them? Whatever the reason is, getting a raise now may not solve the issues underneath.

Sometimes it’s simply better to leave your two weeks notice and walk away. If you stay, they may start looking for a replacement soon enough. Even if your company counteroffers, it may involve statements that sound like vague promises, but may never be followed through.

If you do decide to tell your current employer, make sure to do it only after you’ve got a proper contract from the other company, and never under any circumstances remain if they reject your request for a raise.

Is it OK to tell a potential employer that you have another offer?

You may want to share with your potential employer that you have another offer, not only because it will save you time, but also because you may be able to negotiate a better salary. Make sure not to disclose the name of that company until you’ve actually signed the contract.

It’s not a bad idea to be straightforward with any other interviews and pending offers. This can speed up the process if they take too long by simply inquiring where they are in the process, and telling them that you need to make a decision soon, due to multiple offers.

If they ask who the company is or how much they’re offering you just tell them that you’re not comfortable discussing that. Though you should tell them how many days you have until your decision, so they may try to expedite the process.

Should You Keep Interviewing After Accepting an Offer?

It’s a good idea to always keep interviewing, especially if a company only gave you a verbal job offer or an offer letter. However, you should have a very good reason for reneging on the first offer you accepted if you decide to do it early on.

Interviewing is a great skill to have and it costs companies very little to do the interviews. It’s necessary to always keep testing yourself against the market by interviewing at least 2-3 times every year, and absolutely the best way to increase your salary.

Author

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of HowMonk.com! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!