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Read the fine print in a job offer

Read the fine print in a job offerImage Credit: Supplied

Receiving a job offer always sounds like a happy ending to the typically long job pursuit. But, unfortunately, letting your guard down at this point can reverse much of your progress in getting the job — a big disappointment after you've gone so far in the process. But remember, although the job offer puts a moral pressure on both parties, it is not really as binding as a contract.

Employers definitely won't choose to just withdraw a job offer, except in cases when the future employee's performance has changed drastically after receiving the offer. For example, an employee who fails to communicate promptly or to keep communication as professional as possible with the employer can be seen a wrong choice. In this case, the employer probably would rather withdraw the offer with minimum damage at this stage, instead of proceeding with what already appears to be an unsuccessful hire.

In short, having an offer in hand doesn't mean that you should take the job for granted. In fact, this is a time when the employer will be looking for validation of the decision made, if you're not conscious of your actions and presentation of your skills, you may simply feed a sort of buyer's remorse with the hiring manager.

To ensure that you finish this last step of getting the job successfully, you must pay attention to the following points.

Maintain interest

Although negotiating the offer can require some exchange back and forth with the employer, it is important that you don't lose your positive tone about the prospect. You can negotiate money, title, work conditions or any other element in the offer without threatening to walk away or accept an offer from another employer.

Not only this will prove that your interest in the job is genuine, it also the first experience when the employer will see your style in maneuvering a tough situation. That is why at this point, you can demonstrate the consistency of your approach to work and to the employer.

Communicate promptly

In most cases, once the job is offered, the employer will be trying to finalize the hiring procedures quickly. Your prompt communication with the employer will help establish your reliability at this stage. Whether the employer is looking for a set of references or college transcripts, you must present these items as soon as possible. If you're not available or unable to provide what the employer requests, communicate this, too.

In short, don't let the hiring manager or the human resource staff wonder about the meaning of your unresponsiveness. Many hiring procedures can be cumbersome, but that is especially why your cooperation will be appreciated.

In the rare occasion that you've second thoughts about accepting the job, you may not want to rush to inform the employer of these second thoughts. But stalling is not a good strategy, either. What you can do is to provide a clear timeline for providing whatever needed. For example, if the employer is asking for documents to complete your paperwork, you may request a couple of days to put them together. This will give you the time to make a decision, and keeps the hiring manager from chasing you. In all circumstances, have the courtesy to inform the employer of your change of heart as early as possible, so another person can be selected in time.

Don't overpromise or oversell

On the other extreme, your eagerness to take the job shouldn't lead you to overpromise or oversell yourself. For example, don't get out of your way to start a job sooner than you've planned to simply please the employer. In many cases, employers have preferred time frames, but they can live with many other alternatives. The point is: Balance your enthusiasm for the new job with your commitment to the previous employer and yourself in term of rest and recouping.

Overselling yourself is not recommended either. You've already got the job, so quit selling your skills and qualifications. It is appropriate to just wait until your start date before diving into the details of the job, asking questions and volunteering ideas, except in rare cases. Pushing your qualifications and experience at every opportunity may come out as a sign of insecurity. So take it easy and keep tabs on your self-marketing.

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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a Seattle-based editor