It can be exciting to receive a job offer, but it can also feel overwhelming. It’s not always obvious whether or not accepting this new job is a good decision, and sometimes you just need more time to consider your options.

What is the best way to communicate this without burning bridges?

Why are you undecided?

First, let’s consider why you haven’t yet made your decision. If this was your dream job, it would be a quick and easy yes. So what’s missing from this job offer for you? What would make you want to accept the position?

There are some obvious questions to ask yourself.

  • Does the remuneration match your lifestyle?
  • Is the company culture a good match for you?
  • Is the travel time prohibitive?
  • Is this job the correct move to advance your career?
  • Are you expecting a better offer?
  • Are there questions you need answered before you can make a decision?

Consider each of these points. They are all important for you to know whether or not this job change would be a good move for you. Pay careful attention to how this job will affect your quality of life, what benefits the job will provide, and identify the things that are non-negotiable for you.

How to ask for more time to make your decision

It is not unusual for jobseekers to ask for time in order to make their decision, nor is it unreasonable. Changing jobs is life changing. Even if the hiring manager pushes you to make a decision in a short amount of time, it’s okay to ask for more.

If they push harder, or get aggressive, this should be a red flag.

When responding to the offer as undecided, keep in mind the following:

Show gratitude

Showing appreciation for the offer and for the time the hiring manager has taken in getting to know you is a good way to soften the tone of your request. It can also help to show enthusiasm for the job; showing that you are interested may prevent them from reconsidering and rescinding the offer.

Be honest, but not too honest

Sometimes, honesty is the best strategy. If you are considering other options, it may help to mention this to open up negotiations. But if you do choose to reveal this to them, be mindful that the way you deliver this information to them may have a big impact on the outcome of your negotiations. Consider carefully whether or not this could benefit or harm your offer.

However, if there is a specific reason for the delay - your family is going through a crisis, or you’re having a lawyer review the contract - tell them.

In all of this, the key is to make sure you don’t make them feel as though they are not a priority, and that the offer is not your last resort - even if it is. Be polite and respectful of their time as you work through your decision-making process.

Take this opportunity to ask questions and/or negotiate

If you have questions that would help you arrive at a decision, don’t be afraid to ask. Asking questions can in itself be a good tactic to buy yourself more time.

It may also be a good time to see if they are open to negotiating your offer. After all, they have come to you, so you have the advantage. But before you do, make sure you are clear on what you want, and keep your expectations reasonable.

Give a timeframe

In most cases, hiring managers will be more amenable to your request for more time if you give them a deadline. It can also be helpful to give yourself a deadline. Stick to it though, or it may backfire.

How much time can you take?

How long you can delay your decision depends on how senior the role is. If you’re going for an entry-level role, for example, asking for a fortnight to make your decision isn’t going to be well received. But if you’ve been offered a senior role and it requires a relocation, two weeks to discuss this with your family is not unreasonable.

For more junior roles, two to three days should be plenty of time to come to a decision. If it’s a more senior role, one to two weeks is a good timeframe, particularly if it involves a big life change.

Throughout this interaction, remain polite and professional, and refrain from delaying unnecessarily; people can usually tell when people are being disingenuous, and can burn bridges. Always be respectful of the time of the people involved, and once you have arrived at your decision, share it with them as soon as possible.

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