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

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
LinkedIn 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.

UMass policy for students reneging on offers:

When you accept an offer for an internship, co-op or full-time position, both the UMass Amherst Career Center and the employer expect that you are acting in good faith and will honor that commitment. Accepting an offer only as a precautionary measure and then reneging on that commitment is considered unprofessional, unethical, and may seriously damage your future job prospects, as well as those of other UMass students and alumni.

It is your responsibility to thoroughly evaluate an offer and decide if the opportunity is right for you before accepting it, even if the company provides you with less time than you would actually like to make this decision. Once you accept an internship, co-op or full-time job, or decide to go to graduate school, AND the employer has confirmed that offer contingencies such as background checks, reference checks, or drug screens have been cleared, you should withdraw from the recruiting process. This requires that you stop applying for positions and withdraw from any interviews or discussions with employers that are actively considering you for a job.

Employers expect and value this professionalism, and it allows them to engage with other students to fill the position. If you have any questions or need help in evaluating an offer or managing offer decision timelines, please contact your UMass Career Center for help. If you renege on an acceptance, it may result in suspension of recruiting privileges including the deactivation of your Handshake account.


Employment Offer Guidelines

We are pleased that many companies are interested in hiring our students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  As a member of NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), we adhere to their professional recruiting principles and believe that it is in the best interests of students and employers if students are given a reasonable amount of time to consider alternative offers before making important career decisions. 

While NACE does not address specific time frames, Career Services is aware that employer hiring patterns have shifted more competitively within recent years in recruitment processes and work with shorter response windows for offers. Understanding this, we provide these fair guidelines to both students and employers.

Offer Guidelines:

If returning students are offered full-time positions or second internships (with the same company) after summer internships, students will have until November 1 to accept/decline offers. This allows students time to participate in fall on-campus recruiting if they so choose.

If students are offered full-time positions during the fall or spring semester, students will have at least 3 weeks from the receipt of the written offer to accept/decline offers.

If students are offered internship positions during the fall or spring semester, students will have at least 3 weeks from the receipt of the written offer to accept/decline offers.

We discourage employers from using practices that would improperly induce early acceptances any time of the year. Specifically, we expect that any employer that makes use of UMass Career Services will abide by these offer guidelines.