5 ways you can respond to a job offer

So, you’ve gone through the gruelling application and interview process and come out on top with an offer. Congrats! But how do you reply to a job offer email? Do you have to respond straight away? Is there any wiggle room to work with? Don’t worry; there’s no need to stress. Let us talk you through all the best ways to respond to a job offer email, whether it’s an acceptance, a gentle rejection, or a request for more info. Stick with us, and you’ll be such a pro, you could make it your job to reply to job offer emails!

What is a job offer?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a job offer? It’s essentially how your potential employer lets you know that they want to hire you for a given position. That means your CV, application, and interview impressed them, and they think you’ve got what it takes to shine in the role. A job offer usually includes or repeats all the important details of the position, like salary, working hours, and responsibilities. Receiving a job offer isn’t necessarily the same as getting hired; you still have the chance to accept or reject it. Plus, they can take it back too, depending on the type of offer it is.

There are two types of job offers you can respond to: conditional and unconditional. While they both get you the job in the end (in theory), there are a few differences between them:

  • A conditional offer means that there is something that the employer wants to verify before they fully give you the job. This could be anything from a health check to a look over your references. If you don’t meet their criteria, they can withdraw their offer.
  • An unconditional offer means the company wants you 100% and has nothing more to go over. If you accept an unconditional offer, then you’re legally under a contract of employment with them.

If you accept an unconditional offer, you can’t back out of the deal if you change your mind. You may have to work for a certain notice period, or in extreme cases, you may be brought to court for breach of contract. That’s why it’s so important to be well-informed before accepting any offers, so make sure you read the fine print!

Understand your job offer before you respond

To avoid getting into a tricky situation, you should always know all the important details of a job offer before you reply. Read the email carefully, or write down the information they give you over the phone. Some of the important things to look out for are:

  • Salary: does the amount cover your needs and expenses, and is there a possibility for bonuses;
  • Benefits: are there added extras like health insurance, stock options, or a pension plan;
  • Working hours: how many hours will you be expected to put in, and is overtime pay an option;
  • Duties: what tasks fall under your job title, and do you have the skills to pull them off.

These are just some of the elements to consider before you respond to that job offer; obviously, many other factors play a role too. If you think there’s something fishy or not quite right about the offer, you might want to reach out to an employment lawyer. They can check the details and tell you whether it’s all above board or not. Once you understand these basics though, you’ll be in a better position to decide how you want to reply to the job offer email or phone call.

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5 ways you can reply to a job offer

To avoid getting into a tricky situation, you should always know all the important details of a job offer before you reply. Read the email carefully, or write down the information they give you over the phone. Some of the important things to look out for are:

1. Reqest more time

It’s likely that you’ve sent out a few applications for different roles, and not all of them work at the same pace. Perhaps you’ve been offered a job with one company, but the others still haven’t got back to you. In that case, you can reply to the offer by asking for a little bit of time to consider their proposal and suggest a date, so they know you won’t take forever. Keep it polite and simple, and make sure you start by thanking them for their offer in the first place.

‘I very much appreciate your offer, but I would like to take a few days to review the specifics. Does Thursday work for you?’

2. Ask for more information

Sometimes you might not be sure exactly what an offer includes, or you need clarification on one of the perks being proposed. That’s totally normal, especially if it’s your first time applying for a job. Having clear and comprehensive information is essential for making a well-informed decision, so it’s good to question if something doesn’t seem right to you. You want to let them know you’re grateful for the job offer, acknowledge their generosity, and that you have a small query. Keep it short and sweet, let them do as much of the explaining as possible, and above all, be polite about it.

‘Thank you so much for the offer. It’s a very exciting opportunity, but I have some questions regarding the details of the job. Could you please clarify what is meant by [question]?’

3. Negotiate with them

Think your skills and expertise are worth more than what they're offering you? Then stand up for yourself! There’s no need to be scared of negotiating a better deal for yourself; as long as you’re not totally unreasonable, many companies will think of it as a good thing that you know your worth and aren’t afraid to speak up. Not sure how to negotiate a job offer? Start by – you guessed it – thanking them for their proposal, and explaining that you think it could be improved. Talk through why your qualifications and/or expertise make you a valuable asset, and suggest a more appropriate salary or benefits package.

‘While I appreciate your offer, I believe my skills/experience in [topic] make me a very valuable candidate. Therefore, I think a salary of [amount] would be more appropriate.’

4. Accept the offer

You might be totally happy with the offer you’ve been presented, and don’t want to wait a second longer before you start working. In that case, you can write an acceptance letter for the job straight away. You’ll want to write a reply explicitly saying that you accept the offer, just to be sure there’s no confusion or misunderstanding. It’s also a good idea to confirm all the details, like the start date and who you’ll be reporting to, so that you’re prepared for your first day. You can also mention that you’re looking forward to starting your new position, and thank them for taking you on board.

‘Thank you very much for the job offer, I am delighted to accept. As I understand it, I will begin on [date], and should report to [person] when I arrive. Is this correct?’

5. Politely turn it down

Have you decided to go in another direction, or just figure that the job doesn’t actually suit you after all? No worries! It’s your job hunt after all, so you get to call the shots. However, it is important to maintain good business relationships in case you want to reapply to the company in future, so make sure you turn them down gently. Acknowledge the job offer and how grateful you are that they would choose you, but politely explain that it doesn’t suit you at this current moment. You can mention that you would still like to be considered for other positions in the future, to keep some opportunities open for yourself.

‘While I’m very grateful to have been considered for the position, it unfortunately doesn’t suit my current situation any more. Therefore, I will have to respectfully decline your offer.’

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How to reply to a job offer email: in short

It can be scary having to reply to a job offer, whether it’s by email or over the phone. That’s no reason not to get back to the company asap though, as you want them to know you’re serious about the situation. You have options for how to respond to them, namely:

  • Asking for a bit of time to decide;
  • Requesting some extra info about the job;
  • Seeing if they’ll go higher on their offer if you think you deserve it;
  • Accepting right off the bat;
  • Or politely declining the job.

If you’re not getting any offers that you want to accept, maybe you need to spruce up your CV to attract different employers. Try out our free CV builder to put you a head above the rest of the competition. Still in the interview stages, and wondering how you can boost your chances of receiving a job offer? Have a look at all our interview tips, as well as some inspiration for questions you might be asked. That way you’ll walk in super prepared, and ready to land that job.

FAQs about how to reply to a job offer email

  • What is an unconditional job offer?

  • If you’re presented with an unconditional job offer, that means the employer knows everything they need to know and wants to hire you on the spot. If you're happy to proceed, go ahead and accept!

  • Should I follow up after I respond to a job offer?

  • If you haven’t heard back after a few days, it might be good to get in touch, especially if you’ve accepted the offer. If you turned it down, they might not want to spend time replying – not the end of the world!

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