This month we're going to take some time to talk about offers and salary negotiations!
After all the hard work you've put in filling in applications, crafting your resume and cover letter, and preparing for interviews, when you get that phone call offering you a position, it's tempting to cheer with relief and accept right away.
My advice is to always, always take some time before you accept.
There are a few reasons for this. The main one is to make sure you have all the information you need to make a sound decision, and to collect any information you're missing. All of those questions you're not supposed to ask during an interview? This is the time to ask them.
You want to know not only what salary they're offering you, but what benefits you're eligible for, how much paid time off (vacation and sick time) you get each year, and what policies they have on flexible schedules, working from home, or anything other arrangements you might want to take advantage of.
The more thought you've given to what you're looking for, the more questions you'll be able to ask when you receive that initial offer. But you can always call back with more questions later.
Another reason to wait before accepting is if you've interviewed at another company and are still waiting to hear whether they're going to offer you a job. This gives you a chance to get in touch with them and say, "I've been offered another position, but I am still interested in working at X Company. Can you provide any updates on your decision process at this time?"
If they were thinking of offering you a job, this will light a fire under them to make you an offer, and then you can make a choice. I suggest doing this even if the first company to offer you a position is your top choice. You can use a second offer as leverage to negotiate a higher salary, which we'll talk about next week.
Finally, it's just a good idea to make a decision like this when your emotions are not running as high as they will be when you first get the call. If you decided during an interview that a place is not a good fit for you, you don't want to commit to working there in a rush of excitement that you've finally received an offer.
So when you get that offer call, say, "I'm very excited about this opportunity, and I can let you know my decision by ______ [2-3 days later]." They may try to pressure you to make a decision because they want to wrap up the hire, but it's absolutely reasonable for you to take time to think it over.