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Get it in Writing: Why You Absolutely Must Have a Written Job Offer

By | Lily Zhang |

You’ve been on the job search for months. You’re exhausted, and your patience has been worn thin. So, when you get that all-important phone call from HR offering you a job, why wouldn’t you accept? You might even do so on the spot!

Not so fast. While it’s completely understandable to be thrilled (and slightly overwhelmed with relief), it’s crucial to have a written offer in hand before you verbally accept a position—and yes, even if it’s your dream job.

The Importance of a Written Offer

The most basic reason is that you won’t know what you’re getting until you actually see the contract in writing. When HR calls, you’ll likely get a sense of what your base salary is, but little else. While the salary is obviously important, the other parts of a job offer (think health insurance, vacation days, maternity leave) add up, and you’ll want to know what is there—or isn’t there—before you say yes.

Related: 5 Things You Must Discuss With HR Before Accepting a New Job

That said, you’ll also put yourself in a poor position to negotiate if you find out later that your job offer doesn’t include, say, basic short-term disability insurance. (In case you’re wondering, insurance is not generally something companies are willing to negotiate on, but if you’re not offered it, you can use it as a point to ask for a higher base salary.) Saying yes and then going back and pretending like you’re reconsidering unless they meet you in the middle is the equivalent of showing your hand in a poker game.

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