Career Resources

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seniors: How to Successfully Manage Job Offers

Finally...after much perseverance and persistence in your job search, the offers are coming in. What a great feeling that is! And while this is an extremely exciting time in your career, it can also be somewhat overwhelming as you try, for the first time in your life, to make sense of offer packages and wonder how to professionally manage multiple job offers. Understandably, many seniors have been coming in or emailing me with questions they have about their job offers. In this post I will provide some general guidance, but I highly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your school's career counselor and keep in touch with that person every step of the way throughout your negotiation process.

1. When you receive the initial offer, always thank the person who is contacting you for the wonderful opportunity, even if you are not interested in the job. Never give an immediate answer either way. It's perfectly fine and professionally appropriate to ask for 24-48 hours to think the offer over.

2. Once you receive the formal, written offer, I would encourage you to show it to your career counselor, especially if you have questions about it. He or she can also help you determine how competitive the package is compared to other students at your college.

3. If you have any questions or concerns about your offer package, also discuss them with the recruiter. You want to make sure your get all of your questions answered before you sign on the dotted line.

4. Once you do sign on the dotted line, you have made a commitment to the company and should end your job search. It is unethical and unprofessional to renege on an offer. Not only does it reflect poorly on you, but it also reflects poorly on your school, and the company may be reluctant to go back there for future recruiting. Also, recruiters can move to other companies and there's a good chance you'll meet the same recruiter during a job interview at another company. This approach will ensure you maintain a clean professional reputation in your industry.

5. Many students have trouble juggling multiple offers. What a problem to have, you might be thinking! Again, I would highly recommend that you speak with your career counselor regarding how to diplomatically and professionally handle these situations. Essentially, you want to try to "buy time" from Employer A while you wait to hear back from Employer B. In all of your interactions with Employer A, you need to continuously thank them for the opportunity and reiterate why you are still very interested in the company and the position.

6. In our office, when seniors decide to accept an offer, they come into the office and get to ring a very loud bell on the wall and everyone in the office comes out to congratulate them! Your college might not have a bell to ring, but I'm sure that your counselor will be delighted to share in your good news. I personally love hearing these stories and seeing how the student's hard work paid off.

7. Your school most likely tracks employment statistics so make sure to fill out their employment survey. By doing this, you'll be helping to improve your college's rankings, reputation and brand. It will also benefit you as an alum when you see the value of your school's brand steadily rising.

8.  Decline the offer you don't want professionally and gracefully.  Always start out by thanking the employer for the wonderful opportunity and ending with the open-ended possibility that your career paths will cross in the future.  In the middle, I would recommend stating simply that you have decided to accept another opportunity that is a better fit with your career plans.  Don't feel obliged to provide details.  I think it's also a great idea to say something like "it was a difficult decision for me because both offers are good opportunities." You can decline your offer through email or a phone call, but I would recommend a phone call as it demonstrates a certain degree of confidence and professionalism.

1 comment:

Lesley said...


I would like to offer a few comments based on my 25 years of experience in executive search and my current role working with college students and recent grads.

1-You suggest asking for 24-48 hours to think about an offer that you have received. If you are not sure if you want the job, why don’t you instead ask for another meeting to discuss any questions/concerns. Asking for more time doesn’t help you to understand whether you want the job. Remember, once an employer has made you an offer, they are very interested in making sure you get all of your questions answered so you can respond positively, especially those sensitive questions that you may have been timid to address during the interview process.

2-While I don’t advocate rescinding acceptances, it happens. Circumstances change. Unethical and unprofessional is a bit heavy handed. It is not a reflection on the school – if anything, it reflects on the individual. The important point is to provide a reason or explanation as to why you have changed your mind.