How to Respond to an Informal Offer (2023)

From time to time during your career, you might get an informal job offer, which means you haven’t been offered a legal contract, among other things. This usually indicates the recruiter and you have a few things to work out.

It can also mean you’ve been offered the job, but the company needs more time to get things ready to bring you on board. Reviewing how to respond to tentative job offers helps you avoid making mistakes that could cost you a desirable new position.

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What Is an Informal Job Offer?

An informal, or tentative, job offer is often one that isn’t legally binding. You haven’t been given an offer with a start date, title, salary or wage, or benefits. This limits the legal liability of the business in the event you quit your current job and then don't receive a formal offer. Don’t panic if you get something in writing with a line like “This is not intended as an offer of work.”

Companies give informal job offers to let you know they are interested in bringing you on board but still need to do more research. For example, you might meet a department head or business owner at a trade show or industry conference, and they are impressed with you, asking if you’d like to come to work with their company.

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Before this person can make a formal offer, she needs to talk to one or more people at work, look at the budget, consider how the hire will affect a department or the whole company, and what type of formal offer (including compensation) the company can make.

In some cases, an informal job offer is a more detailed offer, but it lets you know the two of you will work out the details in a later discussion. According to recruitment software provider TalentLyft, an informal offer can be detailed, but the manner in which it’s communicated (such as a short email, text or phone call) is not formal.

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Get More Facts

After an informal job offer, respond to the person you spoke with to get more information. Start your email or letter telling them you enjoyed speaking with them, are interested in talking more about coming to work for the company, and would like more information.

If you got an offer with details, confirm that you are good with the offer and want to come on board, and then ask for the next steps. An informal but solid job offer might come with a request that you sign some documents to continue the onboarding process, points out TurboHire.

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If the situation is fluid and you need to do more research before accepting, don’t ask for proprietary information, such as “Can you tell me what your revenues were last year?”) or focus on pay. Make sure your questions confirm that you are a good fit.

For example, you might want to highlight one of your skills to continue the interview process while finding out if the job is right for you. You might ask, “I have extensive experience in XYZ. How does that factor into this role?”

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Compare to What You Have

Assume you are likely to get a job offer if it hasn’t been offered yet, with compensation and start date details. How will this new job compare to what you have right now in terms of total compensation (salary and benefits), title, work-life balance, challenge, commute or remote work opportunity, hours per week, and effect on your career?

Get Ready To Submit

Don’t wait until you receive a formal offer to update your resume. Review your LinkedIn profile, decide who your references will be, and search and clean up your online presence. Assume you’re going to get the job and be prepared to respond the way that’s best for you – proactively, not reactively. Know your salary number and the benefits you want.

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Make Your Counter/Acceptance

Before you receive a formal or even tentative job offer acceptance letter or email, be prepared to make your counteroffer or accept the offer. You might not want to get into too many details that make you sound pushy during the final conversations. For example, before you’ve been given a formal offer, you might want to ask for a specific job title or inquire about tuition reimbursement.

FAQs

How do you respond to an informal offer? ›

Start your email or letter telling them you enjoyed speaking with them, are interested in talking more about coming to work for the company, and would like more information. If you got an offer with details, confirm that you are good with the offer and want to come on board, and then ask for the next steps.

How do you politely respond to an offer? ›

Acknowledging a job offer
  1. Thank the employer for the opportunity presented!
  2. If you understand the terms of the offer, indicate that. ...
  3. A smart employer will know that you may be considering various employment options and need to make a deliberative decision; you may need to compare the offer to another pending offer.

How do you accept an informal email offer? ›

Start by saying thank you and expressing your excitement and fit for the role. Then ask for a phone call to go over some details and ask a few questions about the offer. Usually something like, “I have a question about the salary,” is enough to get across that you're planning on negotiating.

How do you accept an offer without sounding desperate? ›

Photos courtesy of the individual members.
  1. Ask For An Informational Meeting. ...
  2. Provide Insight. ...
  3. Demonstrate Commitment To The Mission. ...
  4. Share Passion And Find Ways To Contribute. ...
  5. Tell The Story Behind Your Interest. ...
  6. Be In Love With The Company. ...
  7. Ask First For Expert Advice. ...
  8. Interact With Their Content.
Apr 7, 2020

Is an informal job offer binding? ›

A verbal job offer is legally the same as a written one, but it can be difficult to prove the details if it's not in writing. If you feel you need it you can ask the employer for a written job offer. For example, you could ask the employer to email you to confirm: the job being offered.

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