University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance

Job Offers and Compensation Packages

Congratulations! You’ve received a job offer. Or, if you’re really lucky, you’ve received more than one. Take a little time to congratulate yourself, enjoy the rush, and call your friends and family. Then it’s time to get serious again, because you’re not quite done.

You should handle your job offer(s) as professionally as you did the job search, and pay careful attention to each step as you decide to accept or reject the offer. For tips, review Negotiating the Offer.

Receiving an Offer

Whether the employer makes you an offer by phone, email, or at an interview, it’s best to remain poised but enthusiastic. Ask for the offer in writing, listing the start date, position, title, duties, salary, and benefits. Even if you’re certain you’ll take the job, ask for time to evaluate the offer.

Evaluating the Offer

Once you have established with the employer the amount of time you have to evaluate the offer, take some time to determine if this is the right choice for you. Even if this seems like your dream job, evaluate it objectively to see if it is really the right fit. If you are leaning toward rejecting the offer, spend time weighing the pros and cons of taking the position, and keep an open mind.

Things to Consider:

  • Does the job fit your values and lifestyle needs?
  • Are you happy with the location?
  • Can you live with the salary and compensation package?
  • Is there room to grow in the position?

At this point you need to determine if the salary and benefits offered will meet your needs, how to compare this with any other job offers, and how to negotiate if there is indeed an opportunity to do so. In most entry-level jobs, there is not much room for negotiation. This will be more likely in your second or third job. You may be able to negotiate for more salary or different benefits, but this will depend on your ability to handle some risk.
The following articles offer excellent guidelines and tips on the process of evaluating compensation packages and negotiating salary:
Quintessential Careers: Evaluating the Entire Compensation Package
Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources
Salary Negotiation Dos and Don'ts for Job Seekers

In addition, the following Web sites will help you research salaries in your field.
Career One-Stop
Salary Calculator

Employment Offer Guidelines

We are pleased that many companies are interested in hiring our students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In agreement with the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) professional principles, we believe that it is in the best interests of the students and employers, if students have a reasonable amount of time to interview and consider alternative offers before making important career decisions. Thus, we encourage employers to give students a reasonable timeframe for acceptances and discourage employers from using practices that would improperly induce early acceptances. Specifically, we expect that any company that makes use of our Career Services will abide by the following employment offer guidelines.

• If a returning student is offered a full-time position after a summer internship, that student has until mid-November to make a decision about that offer. This provides students with time to participate in fall on-campus recruiting.

• If a student is offered a full-time or internship position during the fall semester, that student should have at least until mid-December to make a decision about that offer.

• If a student is offered a full-time position during the spring semester, that student should have at least until mid-April to make a decision about that offer.

• If a student is offered an internship position, that student should have at least 3 weeks to make a decision.

• If offers are made close to the above mentioned deadlines, employers should give students at least 3 weeks to make a decision.

Accepting an Offer

If you accept the offer in person or by phone, follow up with a written letter to the person who offered you the position. The letter should include your understanding of the job details (the start date, position, title, duties, salary, and benefits), thank your new employer for the opportunity, and express your enthusiasm, possibly detailing specific aspects of the job you’re looking forward to.
Send thank you notes to your recommenders and to anyone who helped you network.

Refusing an Offer

If you choose to turn down a job offer, be very positive and professional. You may find yourself applying for a job with this organization in the future, they may be your colleagues, and they could provide excellent networking opportunities. Send a letter that briefly explains why you’ve rejected the position. Thank your contacts for their offer and for the time they spent with you, including specifics about your experience.