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You should be thrilled. You have a job offer and you’re pretty sure you’re going to accept it. Except it would be nice if they would start you at four weeks of vacation instead of three. Or if the salary was $5,000 higher. And what if you get another offer next week from that other employer where the grass is greener? Such is the whirlwind that runs through our heads as we contemplate the offer.

Last year, we asked experts to answer a question about if someone must legally start a job after accepting an offer, even if they receive a better offer a few days later. We had some follow-up questions, so we reached out to two other experts and career counsellors. Mark Franklin is the practice leader of CareerCycles and Kadine Cooper is a career and life transformation coach at Coach K. We asked for advice on how to handle a job offer, going back to before you start your job search to the moment you start negotiations.

What should people think about as they’re planning their job search? And should they apply widely or more targeted?

Franklin: Start with you, rather than with the world of work. Most Canadians, when they are considering career planning and job searches, they jump on to the job boards. But mostly what we find with our clients in CareerCycles is that people know things that they liked and disliked about their past experience. The easiest place to start is what you’ve disliked, because people have a strong feelings. For instance, if you have disliked repetitive tasks, a micromanaging boss or Excel spreadsheets, then think, what do I want instead? Maybe it’s more variety, more creativity. Now you start to get a sense of what’s important to you.

Cooper: One thing I always say to my clients is it’s really about figuring out your “why,” your foundation and your values. Knowing what motivates you, what’s important to you and your non-negotiables. When you have that information, then it’s easier for you to start casting the net. You’re not just applying for opportunities blindly.

When you receive a job offer, what questions should you ask yourself to decide whether to take it?

Franklin: Think about how this job aligns with, No. 1 your desires – what you want at this age and stage – and No. 2, your strengths – the skills and knowledge that you want to use. Reflect in an organized way on what’s important.

When it comes to close calls, they’re both good for different reasons. Unless it’s obvious that one is an 80-per-cent alignment with who you are, and another is a 20-per-cent alignment, then go with the 80 per cent. But if they’re both okay, then don’t make the mistake of thinking that one is right and one is wrong. They’re both right. And it’s what you choose to invest in.

Cooper: In reviewing the offer, go back to your foundation and your goals. What’s important? Is it the compensation, the location? Is it being able to work remotely? What are the benefits like? Vacation days? Looking at your lifestyle and your livelihood, is it enough to support yourself based on where you live? Does it meet those financial and personal needs?

We all should have our personal board of directors and people we can use as a sounding board. Pick someone you trust: a mentor, a coach, your parents or someone you know has your best interest at heart and wants to see you succeed. Someone who knows you well enough to call you out if it’s not the right offer and opportunity.

Is there generally room to negotiate in a job offer? And what might be negotiable?

Franklin: People often feel that it’s all about the money. And it’s natural to be focused on the money, we live in an expensive world. The further you are in your career, the more negotiating room there is. But even after a few years, if people really liked you in that interview, they want you. Can you think about, for instance, the timing of a salary review? If they say, we can’t do any more than X dollars per year, ask, can we move the salary review from 12 months to nine or six? Is there a bonus? If it’s a tech company, often there’s stock options or profit sharing. Other points include flexible hours, work from home, relocation support, support for a car or public transit, vacation days, parental leave top up, professional development funds and memberships.

Cooper: At each company, their pay band is different. But everything is negotiable. Accept the offer and say, I’d like some time to review. Make notes on what stood out to you as great, and then what you would like to improve. Then go in with that. Say, thank you for the offer and the opportunity – I’m just wondering if there is any wiggle room. Maybe benefits starting from day one versus in three months. Sometimes you can negotiate your start date.

And again, look at what is important to you. Maybe you can ask for a signing bonus if they’re not able to move on the salary, maybe additional weeks of vacation.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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