Job Offers & Negotiations
Career Center's Ethical Job Search Policy (link)
Evaluating an Offer
Congratulations – you got an offer! Do you take it? Do you have more than one offer? Do you negotiate items in the offer? If so, how do you decide between them? These can all be tough issues to wrestle with. Ask yourself some questions:
- Are the organization’s values and lifestyles in sync with mine?
- Will I enjoy learning and doing this job?
- Is the work challenging? Do they provide me with quality professional development opportunities? Will it take me on my desired professional path in a reasonable time frame?
- Do I like the working environment? The staff? The supervisor?
- Does the compensation package: salary, benefits, vacation, health & retirement plans, meet my financial needs?
- Is the organization growing? Downsizing? What is its reputation?
- Is it in a geographic location that interests me?
- How do I feel about the required level of travel?
Salary Related Websites
- ACI Net Wages & Trends
- National Association of Colleges & Employers
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Wall Street Journal
An exploding offers is one with a short deadline. The Career Center’s Job Offer Policy outlines the timing required for employers to provide students to make decisions. If you are faced with an exploding offer please contact The Career Center.
Requesting More Time
When deciding whether or not to accept an offer, if you feel you can’t decide in the time allotted, you can request more time from the employer. Asking for more time usually will not cause the employer to withdraw their offer, however, it is important to let the employer know how interested that you are and to be prepared to explain why you need additional time to make a decision.
If you are uncertain about accepting a job offer make an appointment with a counselor to discuss your options.
Should I Accept any Offer?
It is always tempting to consider a position that you feel you “should” accept because you fear you will not have other options. Think carefully and don’t accept an offer until you are ready, as an acceptance must be made in good faith with an intention to honor the acceptance. If you would like to discuss your situation please contact The Career Center to speak with a counselor.
Negotiating an Offer
For new graduates most recruiters are utilize “fixed offer” environment. In these cases the employer has set compensation package for all new graduates and, therefore, there is not a lot of room for negotiation. The Career Center can help provide insight as to whether other students have been successful at particular companies or in certain industries with negotiation.
When considering negotiation you first need to understand how the employer determines how they make offers:
- Fixed offers for all graduates. This is the most common with positions for recent college graduates.
- Pay-Range. In this situation, there is a pay-range for the job and, based upon your experience, you will receive a salary commensurate with your experience compared to others in the same position. This system may have room to negotiate if you can prove your skills and experience.
- Negotiable. This employer probably does not do a lot of new graduate recruiting so is negotiating compensation packages one-by-one based upon information gathered. In addition to salary, companies may negotiate: signing bonus, performance bonus, early performance review and salary review, starting date, vacation time, relocation expenses, flex time, and professional development.
The key item when looking to negotiate is making sure you have done your homework – there must be legitimate facts why you believe the offer is not competitive. You also must use a great deal of tact and professionalism. In trying to determine if the offer is competitive, consider the following:
- What are the salary averages for your field and in your geographic area of interest?
- What are the salary averages your peers have received that are in a similar situation?
- Understand the standards in your field and industry for what may be negotiable or not negotiable, such as relocation costs, insurance, etc.
Accepting an Offer
When accepting a job offer, you should do so in writing – restating your interest and the key components of your job offer. This should be done in the same manner in the which you received the offer (i.e. if you received the offer as a hard copy via the mail, you should respond in the same manner, likewise an email offer may be accepted via email). More and more companies are beginning to send offer letters electronically instead of the traditional US mail version.
The Career Center’s Ethical Job Search Student Contract requires that you also notify all other organizations to whom you have applied, that you have accepted an offer and wish to withdraw your name from further consideration. You may also consider notifying all those who have helped you in your job search, including those who served as references, provided you leads, and gave advice.
- State that you are writing to accept a specific position. Identify the position by name to avoid any confusion.
- State the basic terms of the offer. It is important to state any unusual aspects of the offer.
- Express your sincere thanks to join the organization.
Declining an Offer
Sending a letter declining an offer is important to assure good relations with the organization. Decline an offer as soon as you are no longer interested or immediately after accepting an offer from another organization. Declining an offer tactfully in a timely manner will not offend the organization.
Based on your reason for declining the employment offer, the letter will take one of two directions:
- If you are declining the offer because you have accepted another position, simply indicate that it was a difficult decision but that you have accepted another opportunity that is a better fit for your career goals. Sample Decline Letter due to Another Acceptance.
- If you are declining the offer due to the terms of the offer then state the reason why you are declining. Hopefully you have already spoken about what in the offer is not amiable to your needs, but this would leave the door open in case they wish to renegotiate. Sample Decline Letter Based Upon the Offer.
Again if the process has occurred electronically, you may send this letter via email, if it has been by US mail, send your decline letter by US mail.