You mastered the interview questions and answers and It happened! You’ve been offered a job.

Suddenly anxiety and anticipation have given way to cold reality: Do you want this job or not? Here’s how long you can take to answer a job offer, and what you should consider before you say yes or no.

1.) The job offer itself.

Most job offers have an expiration date. Either the recruiter/employer will outright tell you over the phone or through email, or the job offer letter will specify a deadline. It’s usually one week after you get offered the job—that’s a standard time to “think it over” and come to a decision. Sometimes there won’t be a specified date. Whoever offers you the job will say something vague like “let me know soon,” or an email will ask for a response at your “earliest convenience.” This is a little tricky. You can justifiably take about a week if you want, but the employer might expect you to respond sooner (as in a situation where they think they’ve offered you a really good position). Generally, you can wait up to three work days without hurting any feelings if there’s not a hard deadline.

2.) Why you should take some time to consider the position.

If you’ve already done research on the job (Read: How To Use a Job Description to Your Advantage),  you might think you know everything you need to make a decision. Though you’ll probably have a good idea about your potential responsibilities and the expectations you’ll have to meet, you should spend at least some time researching the culture of the company, the type of life you’ll have working for them and their full compensation package.

Websites like Glassdoor post reviews about companies from current and previous employees. It’s worth checking those out to see how your peers saw the position you’ve been asked to fill. You may find there are expectations to working there that aren’t in any job description: expectations about hours, behavior or priorities that you don’t like.

You should also take a hard look at your life with that company. Do you have to move? Are you going to have a long or stressful commute? How are the seasons and weather going to affect your work there? Will you be able to spend time outside of work on things you want, such as your family, other hobbies or reserve military commitments? The answers to these questions might serve as a deal-breaker for the job, and it’s better to refuse the offer than have to quit down the line.

An offer letter should always contain a detailed description of benefits. If you receive a verbal offer, you should ask to see a list of benefits that go along with your salary or wage. The only time that doesn’t apply is if you’re being hired as a contractor, in which case you need to figure out your own benefits through TriCare or the Affordable Care Act. But be warned: company-provided benefits are not free like they are in the military. You will have to pay health care premiums on an employee-sponsored plan, contribute to your own retirement plan and calculate commute costs, moving costs, utility costs and everything else that goes into a “normal” life when you examine the details of your offer.


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