The interview is done, the wait is over, and now you have a job offer! Give yourself a pat on the back BUT don’t sign the dotted line just yet. Read this section to help decide whether or not this is the offer you want to accept.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Does it fit my requirements and my career goals?
- Is it work that allows me to apply my skills?
- Is the work environment right for me?
- Do I believe in their mission and vision?
- Do their expectations fit with my lifestyle?
- Does the compensation package meet my needs?
- Is the salary level appropriate for the level of responsibility, the industry, and the location?
- Is the job located in a city I want to live in?
- Is there travel involved? If so, how much?
Salaries, benefits, compensation packages—this stuff can be tough to navigate! Discuss your job offer with parents, advisors, or with us so that you can make the most informed decision possible. Use online resources as well: See Salary Websites below.
How to Respond
Generally, employers make a verbal job offer, and then send a letter. Ask the employer if they are going to send a letter, and if they do not, you may wish to write one to confirm. The letter confirms your acceptance of the offer with confirmation of the details, expresses your appreciation for the opportunity, and positively reinforces the employer's decision to hire you.
Once you accept a position, you have an obligation to inform all other employers with whom you have had an interview (or have one pending) of your decision and to withdraw your employment application from consideration. Email other employers as soon as you have made your final decision. Express appreciation for the employer's consideration and courtesy. It may be appropriate to state that your decision to go with another organization was based on having better job fit for this stage in your career. If you are applying for an internship, you can state your interest in being considered for a future opportunity. If you prefer, you can instead call the employer by phone to let them know that you are not accepting the offer. Express appreciation for the offer and in case they ask, have a basic response to why you’re not taking the position.
Employers are not the only ones to send rejection letters. Candidates may have to decline employment offers that do not fit their career objectives and interests. Rejecting an employment offer should be handled professionally, and preferably verbally. If you need to inform the employer in writing, indicate that you have carefully considered the offer and have decided not to accept it. Also, be sure to thank the employer for the offer and for consideration of you as a candidate. This will improve your chances should you later reapply to the employer.
Preparation and Research
Many factors determine salary offers; the type of work you perform (based on your skills, education, and experience level), the industry, company size and the geographical area. Keep in mind that there is more room for negotiation when discussing full-time offers versus internships or short-term employment.
Start by learning what the typical salary range is for the job. Salary range information is available from a variety of sources including trade magazines, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Internet. The Services Office can also provide you with salary information from recent graduates.
Next, determine your salary requirement. Work out a monthly budget incorporating all of your real and anticipated expenses, savings, "fun" money, and a cushion for emergencies. Remember that taxes come off the top of each paycheck.
Early in the process the employer may try to find out if the company can afford you by asking your salary requirements. You can choose to do one of the following:
- Ignore the request, which is obviously risky.
- Inquire if there is a set salary range for the position.
- Acknowledge the request and say that you are open and flexible about starting salary.
- Provide your salary requirements, but only after you have done your research. You should provide the employer with a broad range and make sure you are comfortable with the bottom range figure!
Generally, you should wait for the employer to bring up the salary issue. Ideally, this happens near the end of the interview process when you know more about the position. However, if the employer doesn't mention salary, and you are at the point of seriously considering a position with the company, it is appropriate for you to bring up the salary issue.
Factors Beyond Salary
Keep in mind the benefits the company is offering, as well as other perks such as; 401K, relocation expenses, company car, bonus, vacation, holidays, life and medical insurance, tuition assistance, and stock purchase or savings plan. These benefits can add as much as 30-40% to your actual salary.
Sample Negotiation Scripts
Avoid being confrontational; be reasonable in your approach. Reiterate that you are very interested in working for the employer and you want to find a way to work this out.
"At the present time my salary requirements are negotiable within the range of high thirties to low forties."
"Given the responsibilities of this job, I would expect this position to pay in the range of __ to __."
"Thank you for the offer. I am very excited about working for you because ABC Company is my first choice. However, knowing the going rate is ________, I was really looking for something in the range of ____ to _____. Is there any possibility of that?
Reference: Thomas J. Denham, Evaluating Job Offers and Negotiating Salary, Jobweb.com
- CareerOneStop.org: Salaries and Benefits Information
- Economic Research Institute
- Engineering Salary Calculator
- Job Search Intelligence
- JobStar Salary Surveys
- National Association of Colleges and Employers
- Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- PayScale Salary Reports
- Salary & Crime Calculator
- Salary Expert
- Salary Survey
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