How To Ask For An Extension On A Job Offer: Full Guide

Feeling like you need a little more time? Want to get an extension on the job offer you have but don’t know how to do it. We’ll show you a few steps to take in order to buy yourself a little time and make the right employment decision.

First, congratulate yourself on having either multiple job opportunities or having a single job opportunity. If you’ve spent the time to go through the phone interviews, the second round of interviews, the on-site interview and went through the entire process, give yourself some credit for receiving an employment offer.

Why You Might Need To Delay The Job Offer

There are a few reasons you might need to delay accepting the job offer. The first could be that you are simply unsure that you want to work with this company and that you have more questions about the work you’ll be doing or the environment. If that’s the case, your answer for getting a little extra time is simple — ask more questions to either the interviewer or the HR lead who has been working with you.

The other reason you might need to delay is if you are looking at multiple job offers and you are trying to decide between them. And because the process can take a long time to receive a job offer (and get hired), you’ll most likely need to buy yourself some time here.

The third and final reason is that you just aren’t sure that this is the right path for you in life and are trying to make that decision.

All of these reasons are ones that many of us can relate to and countless other professionals have been in the same exact position.

Should You Accept A Job Offer Immediately?

You should never accept a job offer immediately, even if the employer is trying to pressure you into doing so. Spending the time to ensure you are making the right decision both for yourself and/or your family should be the highest priority. You want to avoid making a fast decision that you will regret at later date and potentially cause yourself more trouble in the long run.

Spending a few days to consider any job opportunity is absolutely fine.

Delaying Your Job Offer Could Be A Bad Thing

In most circumstances, the employer who you are speaking with will tell you that there is a hard deadline on the job offer. The first thing you need to recognize is that this most likely isn’t true. If they have extended the job offer to you it means that there are many other candidates, yes, but they would prefer to go with you. Understand that you do have some leverage here and don’t feel pressured.

Rarely, will the employer actually choose to go with another candidate. That’s because they can’t have multiple job offers out for the same position. Both potential candidates could accept the employment letter and then they would be in a difficult position.

So, yes, you have leverage. But what delaying hurts the most is your relationship to the employer. They’ll feel as though you aren’t committed to them and in the event you decide to accept the employment letter, it could begin your working with relationship with them in a negative way.

What You Shouldn’t Say To The Interviewer

If you need a little more time, the first thing you should do is hold your cards close to your heart. Which is a reference to the game of poker. It means that if you are trying to make a decision, don’t tell your employer that. Avoid things like:

Unfortunately, this might be how you genuinely feel. But what’s important here is that you consider what the other party is going to interpret this communication as. They are going to feel as though your commitment to the company is there. And they could simply withdraw their offer of employment to you.

How Long Can I Wait Before Accepting A Job Offer

If a job is sincerely interested in hiring you, they're going to want your answer quickly. Again, don't feel pressured by this. They are performing this function to try and ensure that you don't have enough time to interview anywhere else. Generally speaking, you have up to 3-5 business days before you can reply back to the interviewer who is wanting to know whether or not you accepted. Anything beyond that is when you'll need to start communication tactics to delay the offer so that you can make your decision with more time.

The Aggressive Option You Have On Extending Your Job Offer

There’s an aggressive option here. And it’s slightly unorthodox. But is one that many people have done in the past. It is to accept the job offer but ask for a longer period of time before your start date. This will provide you ample time to receive your other job offers and when you’ve made your decision, you can withdraw yourself from the interview all together. Understand that until your start date, you truly aren’t employed by someone. By accepting a job offer, that doesn’t technically make you employed. Meaning, you have the ability to withdraw yourself.

It should be noted that by doing this, you will most likely “burn a bridge” with that employer you are withdrawing yourself from at the last minute. Though, if you handle it correctly, you may be able to save your reputation. The way to do that is by being direct, keeping it simple and explaining to the HR manager that you’ve simply decided to withdraw. And when they ask why, you shouldn’t give many personal reasons aside from “I’ve decided to go another route. Though I sincerely appreciate the opportunity you’ve provided me and I hope future opportunities will still be on the table.”

Navigating this is very difficult. It is not recommended to be done by entry-level workers. Usually, this event happens for those who are in senior leadership positions because they are debating between many high-level salaries and commitments which can be tough to decide on.

Reasons You Can Use To Delay Your Job Offer

If you just need a few excuses to buy yourself some time, there are a few options.

Don’t reply

Take longer to respond to emails. For every email you get, wait at least 1-2 business days before you respond. If they call you and ask you to promptly respond to their emails, express that you are currently unwinding your employment elsewhere and that is taking up your time.

Ask more questions

Ask questions like, “Is there any room to negotiate salary?” or “Can you tell me more about the employee benefits?” or some other type of question which might take them a little time to respond with.

Mention you have vacation time

A small white lie won’t hurt. Mention that you have scheduled vacation time and that you will be away from the phone and computer for the next 4 days. And that you’ll sign the employment letter the moment you get back. You can always change your mind and let them know that.

With those excuses to delay that should buy you at least 5-8 business days. Which is enough for you to make a decision. The other route that you have to accept the job for a limited amount of time and continue to interview or get offers at other companies even after you have accepted a job offer. This is also quite common and won't hurt your career trajectory as much as you might think. See our article about leaving a job after 3 months to get a sense of what repercussions could look like.

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