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Evaluating Job Offers

 

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 quick tips, review our handout on Negotiating the Offer.

Then see our advice on navigating the steps of the job offer process:

Receiving an Offer
Evaluating the Offer
Salary Negotiation
Accepting or Declining an Offer
Employment Offer Guidelines

 

Receiving an Offer

Whether the employer makes you an offer by phone, by email, or during the interview, it’s best to remain poised while expressing enthusiasm. It is customary for the employer to provide you with a few days in which to decide to accept or reject the offer.  Ask the employer for the details of the offer in writing, include 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.

 

Salary Negotiation

For most entry-level jobs, salary negotiations are not an option. Negotiations will be more likely to play a role in your second or third job. You may be able to negotiate for more salary or for different benefits, but this will depend on your willingness and ability to handle the risks involved.  Remember: until a contract is signed by both parties, the employer is free to rescind or cancel the job offer without disclosing a specific reason for doing so.


The following articles and website offer excellent guidelines and tips for evaluating compensation packages and negotiating salary:

Evaluating the Entire Compensation Package
Salary Negotiation Dos and Don'ts for Job Seekers
CollegeGrad.com

Quintessential Careers also offers a full collection of
Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources


One principle of good negotiation is to have done your research before starting the discussion.  Use the following websites to research the current salaries of employees in similar positions, as well as how salaries in your profession vary with geography:

Glass Door
Career One-Stop
Salary
Salary Expert

 

Accepting or Declining 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 to which you are looking forward. 
  • Send thank you notes to your references and to anyone who helped you with the job search process. 
  • Don't forget!  Email Career Services and tell us your great news!

If you choose to turn down a job offer:

  • Be very positive and professional in your tone.
  • Don't burn your bridges. You may find yourself applying for a job with this organization in the future. Paths cross and they may someday be your colleagues.
  • Keep in mind that if they found you worthy of an offer, they could become excellent references for you and serve as additional contacts in your professional network.
  • Send a letter that briefly explains why you’ve chosen to refuse the offered position.
  • Be sure to thank your employer contacts for their offer and for the time they spent with you.

 

Employment Offer Guidelines

We are pleased that many companies are interested in hiring University of Massachusetts Amherst students. In agreement with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Principles for Professional Practice, Career Services believes it is in the best interests of both students and employers for students to have a reasonable amount of time, to interview and to consider alternative offers, before making important career decisions. Thus, we encourage employers to give students a reasonable time frame for acceptances and we discourage employers from using practices that would improperly induce early acceptances.

Specifically, we expect that any company that makes use of our 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 deadlines above, employers should give students at least 3 weeks to make a decision