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Accepting the Job Offer

At the end of your sixty-day plan, it’s going to feel great to hear these words: “Congratulations! You got the job.” Your work isn’t quite done yet, though. Let’s walk through what happens next.

First, you’ll get your job offer. A job offer can be offered verbally or in writing. The style depends on the disposition of your new manager and the type of work you will be doing. If you are accepting employment from a company that has certain regulations and rules you must agree to, the offer will come in writing and you will be required to sign it before you start work.

Before you sign a job offer letter, be sure to read the fine print. Usually, the offer that you received verbally is accurately captured in the letter, but other times it is not. Make sure the letter clearly describes:

  • Your start date and first shift time
  • Hours of work
  • Terms of pay
  • Mandatory deductions (union dues, benefits, etc.)
  • Uniforms (Do you have to wear one? When? Who pays for it – you or the employer?)
  • Non-competition clauses
  • Vacation
  • Other terms you negotiated

Some employers do not routinely produce a letter of offer, but it is always a good idea to ask for one and to keep it in a safe place at home. For example, students who work part-time during school often work in the service industry. They need to know whether the employer expects them to work shifts that will interfere with school. Although in some areas, students are prohibited from working after 10:00 p.m., other communities may schedule students for an hour. Some young people are surprised to learn they are expected to be at work until 1:00 a.m. on a school night. Don’t get caught by surprise: ask for that letter.

Negotiating Your Salary and Benefits

Some candidates may shy away from negotiating a job offer, but this is actually the best, and possibly the only, time to negotiate what you are worth. Employers generally have room to negotiate the terms of hiring, even when they say they don’t. It is sensible to negotiate terms that are flexible before you sign a letter of offer.

None of us works for free, and everyone wants to be paid what they are worth. How do we learn exactly what an employer can offer us? We ask for what we want.

If your new employer has to stick with a pay grid that is part of a union agreement, he or she will not be able to negotiate pay with you. That would violate the terms of collective bargaining. Hopefully, the union has already done a good job on your behalf.

Non-unionized employers do not have collective bargaining restraints. So, your ability to get what you are worth can be based on your own negotiation skills.

Negotiate what you feel you are worth in terms of an hourly wage or annual salary. Know what people in your field are making so that you are competitive. Many regions have local employer survey results on salary and benefits. If your region has them, use them. If your region doesn’t have them, use those from a region close to you.

In addition to salary (and sometimes because there is limited negotiating room on salary), you can negotiate the number of weeks of vacation you get every year and when you start to accrue them. You can also negotiate the hours that you will work every day (e.g., a compressed workweek), the date that your benefits will start (e.g., waiving an enrollment waiting period), telecommuting options, and so on. Another sometimes overlooked area in hiring negotiation is professional development. Are there courses, workshops, or seminars that would benefit you in your new job that the employer can send you to?

Be certain the terms you negotiated are satisfactory before signing your job offer letter.

Take a few minutes to consider your salary and benefit requirements. Plan ahead how you will negotiate a satisfactory result.

Resigning from Your Current Job

The rule of thumb is that you do not give your resignation from your current job without a new job offer completed. Otherwise, you may quit one job only to discover that you don’t have another one to go to. Also, the terms of employment in your offer letter of offer may not be quite what you expected.

You should write a letter of resignation. In practical terms, this letter should be short. It can be handwritten or typed. You do not have to mention the reasons that you are leaving the job or problems that you encountered. Often, grievances are best left unsaid in the resignation. However, you may wish to bring them up in the last meeting with your boss, sometimes referred to as an exit interview.

The key ingredients for a letter of resignation are:

  • The length of notice
  • The last day of work

Keeping Perspective

While you go through your job search, it’s important to take a few steps back now and again to maintain your perspective. You may be excited about new opportunities, but do not let your enthusiasm mean that you do a poor job during the last few weeks at your current job. You may be feeling disgruntled or disappointed about your old job, but don’t let that get in the way of how you exit that job and don’t gripe and make trouble in the workplace. Be professional and courteous, and always maintain a standard to do your best work. Friends that you are leaving behind will not feel slighted if you depart in that way, and you maintain your reputation as a decent individual.

Keep your optimism when your job search gets frustrating. Make sure that you take time each day to eat right and get exercise because it helps you to stay strong. You can also spend some time reviewing and visualizing your goals.

Most importantly, remember to thank the people who helped you with your job search process. Take a minute now to create a list of those people you need to thank.