Is it ok to ask for time to consider a job offer?
February 24, 2011 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Is it ok to ask for time to consider a job offer?

I have a pretty good feeling that I will soon be offered a position that I recently interviewed for. Unfortunately, I don't really know if I want to accept the position until I am told the exact salary I am being offered as well as what vacation time will be. Once I have that information I would like to weigh my options as the salary will most likely be lower than I would like. I do not believe that I will be able to negotiate the salary higher.

Is it ok to ask the company to allow me a period of time to consider accepting the position? I was thinking over the weekend or overnight depending on when the offer is extended to me.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's absolutely okay. And if the salary is lower than expected then tell them so and then take the time. Don't make them wait too long, though!
posted by amanda at 7:28 PM on February 24, 2011

I think it is ok. I once asked for time and the person I expected it to not be an issue, since this is a common request and it is granted as a matter of form. The person I was negotiating with threw a fit. We had gotten along very well up until then. It was a good warning, since I did take the job, and this person turned out to be psycho. Live and learn.
posted by fifilaru at 7:30 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Maybe an unreasonably short answer, but without more information about the type of job, it's the best answer available. For most jobs, in my experience, it would be fine/normal/expected to wait 24h to respond.)
posted by Perplexity at 7:30 PM on February 24, 2011

Obviously nobody can tell you for sure how they'll react, but I was once offered a job on Wednesday and asked if I have until the following Monday to respond. They didn't give me any crap about it and I ended up taking the job and it went fine.

If they rush you after you've told them that's what you need to feel confident about the move you're making, well, that might tell you what you need to know right there.
posted by substars at 7:31 PM on February 24, 2011

Typically what happens is you would get a verbal offer with the salary, bonus, and info on the benefits. If the company/manager is savvy, they would wait to get your verbal commitment before sending you the details in a written offer. Note, that the verbal commit is non-binding, but obviously you would burn some credibility if you accepted verbally and then challenged or backed out later. Depending on how competitive the field is, you may be given 24 hours or over a week to consider, so it really depends. You can, of course, ask for more time to consider, but you may get the question of why you need it.

BTW, I know you mention that you think you may not be able to negotiate higher, but I've found, in the technology sector, that there's always something to negotiate (base vs bonus, flex time, commute reimbursement, training, start date, etc etc). When you get the verbal, that's the time to negotiate.
posted by hampanda at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's perfectly reasonable to ask for more time. In fact, normal - especially if salary or relocation is going to be an issue. I mean, the employer may know that too.

I once asked for a week to think and got it. Got a call back and asked for another week, because I still had unresolved stuff - the employer then said "No, we can't wait that long, we have other candidates to move on to and need to get going, so we need your answer by tomorrow." Fair enough - I said yes. It's all very normal.

Try to negotiate your salary anyway.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2011

I'm approaching six weeks thinking about / negotiating a job offer. This might be an extreme case though. Hopefully this will all be over tomorrow and I'll be back in the land of the employed.
posted by COD at 7:46 PM on February 24, 2011

Once I have that information I would like to weigh my options as the salary will most likely be lower than I would like.

This is not how successful promotions work. Filling this position, and whether this new job fits for you is entirely dependent on precisely these factors you mention. As you are a thinking person, of course you will require time to contemplate any offer. Only fools agree to contracts without reflection.

Your opinion that you can't gain any additional compensation is incorrect. All first offers are always low. This is rule ONE in business. By agreeing to any first offer, you only confirm your lack of worth to those who misread your true resolve. I guarantee you that you can get more than their first offer, but you'll absolutely need to ask.

Any discussion which doesn't expressly cover these precise subjects is not a legitimate job offer.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's certainly OK to ask for more time. If it's not OK for you to take time to consider the offer, they're free to tell you.

If you want to ask for a higher salary, do it after you get the offer but before you accept it. That's when your bargaining power is at its peak: you know they want you, but they're not sure if you want them.

If they're reasonable people, they're not going to rescind the offer over any of this, so you might as well ask for what you want.
posted by John Cohen at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2011

It's standard to ask for 24-48 hours to think about it. If you do want to accept it, I recommend you try to go in face to face to negotiate the salary/benefits. Negotiating is difficult, but if you never actually say a number (and this is hard to do), you don't run the risk of insulting them or killing the offer by asking a huge amount more or of lowballing yourself. I did this for my current position and ended up with an offer of 8% more than the original. If I would've said a number, I probably would've only dared to ask for 5% more.

I hope your gut is right and you do get an offer but, if not, you have a lot of good advice in this thread for the next time.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2011

Negotiating is difficult.

Um, no. Negotiating is what business is about. There is no standard "24-48 hour" time period for consideration of job offers. A fear of negotiating will always lead to sub-optimal results.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hiring manager here. My organization likes panel interviews, so I'm involved with hiring people for my own group as well as assisting my peers. These are mostly manager or director level positions. Here are my observations.

1. Almost no one accepts a job on the spot. People that are married invariably are going to go home and talk it over with their spouse. So the weekend or overnight you mentioned is expected. Sometimes people try to get an edge in the interview process by telling me that they *will* accept if the offer is made.

2. I would take the advice above about milking it out for much longer than that with a grain of salt. Job searches are living things, at the point that I make an offer to you, I've got maybe one or two other viable candidates. I assume that all of you are actively looking at other opportunities and aren't going to wait for me. So if I wait a week for you to decide whether to accept, I'm risking that the other candidates are going to accept other offers and that if you turn me down, I'm going to have to start over on the search. If you are taking that long to decide, I am figuring this position is not your #1 choice, and you are fending me off while trying to close the deal on another offer. I can't recall anyone taking a week where it actually worked out for us as a hire; it seems like they always ended up turning us down.

3. If I make the offer to you and you ask for more time (natch), I'm going to immediately press you for a firm date and time when you will get back to me with a decision.

4. Regarding the comments above about first offers always being low ball offers, here is how my organization views it. Searches are time consuming and expensive, we are selling ourselves to the candidate just as much as he/she is selling themselves to us, and thanks to the interwebs, you have a good idea of what you are worth and have access to the same numbers we do. Lowballing is a shortsighted strategy. I'm going to work with the HR director and try to make an offer that I think is *fair*. I'm not going to think less of you if you accept it without negotiation. There is still room for negotiation, but not as much as you think. Larger organizations usually have defined salary bands paired with job titles, so hiring managers have some range they have autonomy to negotiate in and going outside of that range requires extra approvals. I'm fine with some negotiation, and expect it at the time of offer, but if it stretches out into extra days where you want to keep "thinking about it", I'm going to wonder if you aren't using my offer as a stalking horse for another job or perhaps we are just too far apart. We've certainly walked away from some candidates for this reason over the years and ended up hiring our #2 pick.

5. The above comments apply to external searches. If we are doing an internal search, the dynamics are a little different because usually we know the candidates aren't going anywhere, meaning you've probably got more time. Likewise, if you are an out-of-state candidate who is going to have to relocate and are perhaps coming from a more expensive market, we'll also cut you a little more slack on time to decide and negotiating compensation.

Based on what you told us in your question, it sounds like you already know, or could know, what your counter-offer would be. I assume the offer will come via telephone; if you counter immediately, you are demonstrating that you are serious about the job and moving the process along. You can still reasonably ask for a day or weekend to think about it, especially if they don't accept your counter.

Good luck with your opportunity!
posted by kovacs at 10:48 PM on February 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Kovacs is right. Be up front. You're going to be working for this company, if things go right. So if you have a salary number in your head and they come in low, say so.

"I'm very serious about the position and am excited. However, I was expecting something around $xx instead. Can you see what you can do and I'll think about it in the meantime?"

Of course, if you are way off - say you want $100k and they're offering $80k.. well, that might be a bit of a divide. But depending on the industry, $5k to$10k there may be some room.
posted by rich at 3:45 AM on February 25, 2011

I just accepted a new position and I personally found it very helpful to write out a list of all the questions that I had for them ahead of time, should I be offered the position. I also tried to come up with a specific idea of what I would ask for, plus a somewhat generic amount more to ask for ($X000) if the salary was already in a ballpark that I was happy with.

They should, of course, tell you about salary and vacation but this is a good time to clarify about hours, relocation expenses (if applicable), ask them about any specific vacation plans that you have in order to see if these can be accommodated--anything that you did not really ask about during the interview but would like answers to. For my previous position, I really did not ask about anything and, while everything worked out just fine, I am a little amazed at how little information I asked for about some of the basic logistics of the position and I am a bit embarrassed about not trying to negotiate at all.

Anyway, there are two benefits of doing this--1) You get answers and 2) They will almost certainly need to check on these things and call you back--giving you time. It is completely reasonable to just ask for more time but this way you might also get new information, and better terms. After you get this information then you can always ask for a little time to consider it, but at this point you should not need much time to decide.
posted by pie_seven at 5:15 AM on February 25, 2011

Your opinion that you can't gain any additional compensation is incorrect. All first offers are always low. This is rule ONE in business. By agreeing to any first offer, you only confirm your lack of worth to those who misread your true resolve. I guarantee you that you can get more than their first offer, but you'll absolutely need to ask.

Depending on your gender, this is not correct. Women who attempt to negotiate salary have significantly poorer outcomes regardless of the gender of the person with whom they're negotiating.

"In this study, Bowles and her colleagues divided 119 volunteers at random into different groups and provided them with descriptions of male or female candidates who tried to negotiate a higher starting salary for a hypothetical job, along with descriptions of applicants who accepted the offered salary. The volunteers were asked to decide whether they would hire the candidates -- who were all described as exceptionally talented and qualified. While both men and women were penalized for negotiating, Bowles found that the negative effect for women was more than twice as large as that for men. "
posted by winna at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2011

Actually, while that study is interesting and relevant to the OP, it doesn't say the outcome will necessarily depend on gender. It says men and women will be penalized for trying to negotiate their salary, contrary to a lot of the advice here (including mine). Also, as long as we're going from that study, it's not just the gender of the applicant that matters, but also that of the prospective employer: "Men tended to rule against women who negotiated but were less likely to penalize men; women tended to penalize both men and women who negotiated."
posted by John Cohen at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2011

"Men tended to rule against women who negotiated but were less likely to penalize men; women tended to penalize both men and women who negotiated."

Do note that only one gender is more likely to be penalized in both scenarios.
posted by Miko at 6:33 PM on February 25, 2011

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