Buying Some Time to Make Your Decision

By Joe Stein

It can be both the perfect scenario along with your worst nightmare.  I am writing, this time, about the situation where you have received a job offer, but need to buy yourself some time to make the decision regarding whether to accept the position.

This scenario can be particularly stressful for a Job Seeker since, in most situations the Hiring Manager making the offer is seeking an immediate acceptance.  There is usually the need to continue the process with next steps, such as a background check or drug screen.  The sooner an acceptance occurs, the quicker the process can begin for the employer, who usually wants a person to start as soon as possible.

There are at least a few reasons why you might want some time to make your decision.  Let’s take a look now at the most common circumstances where more time is needed.

• Speak to Your Family – This is the most easily understood reason, both due to the circumstances and that it generally does not delay the process long.  It usually only takes a day or two before a decision can be communicated.  This reason is especially relevant if the position requires more travel or some other feature that impacts a person’s family as a whole.

• Not Sure the Position Is the Right One – In this scenario, you obviously do not need to communicate the specific reason for needing more time.  In my opinion, this situation should only take 24-48 hours to decide, so it should be accepted by the Hiring Manager.  I provide this timeline because if you need any more time than a day or two, it is likely a sign that the position is not right for you and should be declined.  I would recommend just asking the Hiring Manager for a couple of days to consider the offer, and commit to calling the person in the A.M. after this time period.  While your prospective Manager may not be thrilled with this delay, they will most likely understand and accept it.
• You Are Waiting on Another Offer – This is the situation where things start to get really “sticky”.  Most Job Seekers are speaking to multiple potential employers at the same time.  You certainly don’t want all of “your eggs in the same basket” in terms of your job search.  You may be anticipating another offer based on how the process has gone with a different company.  In this scenario, I would recommend requesting the initial 24-48 hours that is almost always a given.  This gives you some time to see if anything progresses with the other company.  If you still have not heard by the end of this time, I suggest calling this other employer to see where they are in their process.  You may want to gently mention that you have an offer from another company but that you prefer this organization.  This could be the nudge needed to get them moving on their own offer to you.  If this other company states they need more time, then you have to make the decision of either accepting your current offer or asking for more time to decide.  I will caution you that, in many situations, asking for additional time will probably result in further questioning and potentially the withdrawal of the offer you received. 
While a Hiring Manager may want an immediate decision and may be disappointed by your need for more time, the request for a day or two is almost always accepted.  If you are in a situation where the prospective employer does not want to work with you on a little time to decide, then I would consider that a major warning sign.  This pressure could be due to them not being sold on you as the candidate (not good for your long-term job security), wanting you to be productive immediately (probable lack of training), or just a general lack of employee concern.  None of these reasons present a good work situation for you and probably means that you should look elsewhere.

While in some situations a job offer results in an immediate acceptance from the Job Seeker, often there is a need for some time to make the decision.  Accepting an offer is a major decision that should not be jumped into if time is needed.  In most scenarios, asking for some additional time to discuss with family or decide is understood and granted.  This should give you the time you need to make sure the offered position is right for you.

As always, best of luck in your job search.