You’ve done your research, applied for the job, been for the interview and obviously done well because you’ve had a phone call and they’ve offered you the job. So now what?
Get it in writing
Start by asking the company to send you the offer in writing, along with any other paperwork, including your contract, so that you can have a good look at what they expect from you and what they are offering in terms of salary, holiday and other benefits.
Ask for time to consider
You don’t have to rush into accepting the job, although you don’t want to hang about too long. Ask for at least 24 hours to make your decision, so that you can read the contract and all other paperwork properly and make sure you are making the right choice. No company wants someone to start and then leave after a few weeks because they didn’t really want the job in the first place.
The company might have been clear from the start what the salary for the job is by putting it in the job advertisement. If not, the subject of salary may well have come up in your interview, but if it didn’t or if you are not quite happy with the salary they are offering, now is the time to negotiate. Start high, so that you can negotiate downwards if necessary.
Look at the whole package
A job is not just about money. If the salary is not quite what you would have hoped for then there are other things to take into consideration that could be seen as a benefit. For example, perhaps you get more than the statutory 28 days holiday for full-time workers; or perhaps the company is the leader in their field and you have always dreamed of working for them.
When you apply for a job, most companies will ask you to provide the names and contact details of at least two referees who can verify your identity and that you are of ‘good character’. While it is unlikely that your new employer would withdraw their job offer in light of something one of your referees had said, it could happen if the referees’ responses showed you had lied about your past experience or your identity.
Some companies also require applicants to undergo a medical – or at least make their medical history available to the employer – before their contract is finalised. Again, if you don’t meet their requirements then your offer could be withdrawn, or no offer made.
You can expect to be paid at least the national minimum wage which, from 1 October 2014, in the UK is:
• £6.50 – for workers aged 21 and over
• £5.13 – the 18-20 rate
• £3.79 – under 18
• £2.73 – apprentices
For more details about the national minimum wage, go to https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
All full-time workers in the UK are entitled to at least 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday every year, and part-time staff are entitled to the same amount pro rata so. However, your employer is allowed to decide when you can take your annual leave, and whether bank holidays are included in your leave entitlement. Any conditions relating to your annual leave must be made clear in your contract.
Some companies reward staff with an extra bonus at a certain point in the year. If you find that a bonus is part of your salary package, your contract must state that you will get a certain amount as a set salary with a variable bonus on top once targets are met. Read the conditions carefully, and be aware that this extra money is not a definite entitlement.
How to accept an offer
While a verbal acceptance is binding, it is best to put it in writing – and keep a copy for yourself. Emails are acceptable but a written letter is still the most professional way to send your acceptance. Address it to the person who sent your offer letter, asking them to confirm that they have received your response. If you want to make extra sure, send it using ‘signed for’ post at the Post Office.
How to reject an offer
If you decide to decline a job offer, putting it in writing is also the best way. Be polite and simply thank them for their offer, say you very much enjoyed meeting them and that you would be delighted if, one day in the future, it turned out that your career path brought you back in touch with them again.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t burn your bridges. You never know when you might want to work for this company in future, or you may have to work with them or some of their staff in a different context, role or company. You might not realise it now, but it pays to always be nice.