Accepting a Job Offer

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Accepting a job offer involves more than simply saying "yes". Various legal, psychological, financial, tactical and cultural aspects of offer acceptance can complicate and blur the process. For example, if a company specifies that acceptance must be in writing, merely saying "yes" would be legally insufficient. Likewise, interpreting an expression of interest-"We think you'll fit in here very well"-as an offer may create an awkward situation, if it is misconstrued as a formal offer.

On the tactical side, "holding out" or otherwise being coy about accepting an offer can, in some cases pay off, but in others kill the deal. Culturally, it is conceivable that upon hearing a Japanese candidate say "hai!" ("yes") upon being presented an offer, it may be misconstrued as a "yes", if it was actually spoken with the force of "I understand"-"wakarimashita", itself easily confused, in Japanese, with "yes".

If possible, acceptance of a job offer should be in person (unless the employer formally specifies some alternative). This is the preferred and professional way to begin a working relationship with the future employer. A contact or offer signed in person with a pen, rather than digitally through email, has a more psychologically binding and positive impact, and serves to start the working relationship in a more personal manner.

Preferably, by the time a job offer has been extended from the potential employer, all negotiating has been done and an agreement has been reached as to the compensation as well as the responsibilities of the candidate for the position. Sometimes, however, the job offer may be the beginning point of these negotiations. If no negotiating has taken place prior to the job offer, then the offer itself would be only an initial place from which to reach an agreement. Accepting a job offer without reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both parties on compensation and requirements is sure to set up future tensions and create legal, as well as relationship friction should any disagreements arise.

If the offer is the starting point of negotiations, assuming negotiations are warranted or necessary, then the offer would be changed as the negotiations move forward, until a final version is reached that is acceptable to both the candidate and the employer. Once this agreement has been reached, the offer should be signed by both parties and a copy should be issued to both for their records, for reference, in the event that a dispute arises later.
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