How Long Can You Take To Respond To A Job Offer?

Career experts explain how much time you can reasonably ask for -- and how to do it.
Thinking over a job offer is important because it can be a life-changing decision. Here's what you need to consider before saying yes.
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Thinking over a job offer is important because it can be a life-changing decision. Here's what you need to consider before saying yes.

If you just got a job offer, congratulations! Being recognized as the top candidate for a role after rounds of applications and job interviews is no small feat. But you still have to decide if the job is the right fit.

It’s an important decision, so you should feel empowered to ask for time.

“Any time you are switching jobs, you are completely changing your entire life and your entire future trajectory, and so it is important to be thoughtful about that and to make sure that you are confident that that is the right move for you,” said Phoebe Gavin, a career coach who specializes in supporting early- and mid-career professionals.

The question is: How much time can you reasonably take to make a decision about the offer? Here’s what you need to know, according to career experts.

Unfortunately, some companies create false urgency.

Don’t feel pressured to answer yes right away, even if it’s a job you like. If an employer is asking you to make a final decision within 48 hours about an initial offer you haven’t negotiated yet, they’re creating artificial urgency, Gavin said.

“That’s them just trying to put you on a tight deadline so that if you have other irons in the fire, you don’t have time to turn those into real offers that you can leverage against them,” Gavin said. “It’s in the employer’s best interest ― once they have decided that you’re the candidate they want to put in this position ― to secure you as quickly as possible.”

“If they’re not respecting you at the offer stage, they probably won’t be respecting you as an employee.”

- Jocelyn S. Lai, global head of talent acquisition at Duolingo

If you’re wondering why an employer is acting like a pushy salesperson to secure your quick agreement, it may be because their talent acquisition team is rewarded for how quickly they close job offers.

“There are some organizations who actually measure their recruiters on ‘Hey, have you closed this offer in X number of days?’ So it’s tied back to recruiter performance,” said Jocelyn S. Lai, global head of talent acquisition at Duolingo.

Lai said that ideally both you and the employer can have transparency and a mutual agreement about what constitutes a good timeline for you to make a decision, as well as transparency about whether there are other job interviews in the works that are part of your decision. In fact, mentioning the other job interviews and offers you have in the mix shows that you are a strong candidate.

And if a company is not willing to budge on the timeline, that can give you insight into their company culture. “If they’re not respecting you at the offer stage, they probably won’t be respecting you as an employee,” Lai said.

A week is standard, but feel empowered to ask for the time you need to make a well-informed decision.

Lai said that there’s no exact number of days candidates have to think an offer over. “For some people, one week might be too short. For some people, one week is too long. We’ve had candidates who are like, ‘I don’t want to drag this out anymore. I’m accepting on the spot.’”

Gavins said anything up to a week is a reasonable timeframe to make a decision, citing caregiving responsibilities, relocation considerations, being married with children or having other job offers you want time to consider as factors that could prompt you to request a full week.

When you are making a request for time, don’t ask for permission. Be matter-of-fact about what date you will respond by. If an employer is pressing you to get back to them on a different timeframe, “Remind them that it’s a big decision and that you want to make sure to take the time necessary to consult with all the stakeholders involved,” Gavin said.

Of course, if the offer is your first choice and you want to accept, “you don’t need to draw it out just to draw it out,” Gavin said.

If you end up needing more time than you initially said, Lai believes it’s alright to ask for an extension as long as you give some insight into why you need more time. This will help alleviate the employer’s anxiety.

“I do think that sharing the details is important,” Lai said. “I always relay it back to dating. If someone is like, ‘Hey, I can’t make it to dinner tonight,’ if you don’t give a reason, the person is going to be like, ‘Are you really into me? ... Are you about to ghost me?’”

“The way we look at it, we’re here to advocate for what the candidate needs, but we can’t do that if we don’t know what’s going on,” Lai said.