How to deal with job offers
After all the effort that you have put into deciding on your future career, filling in application forms and going to interviews and assessment centres, you have received your first job offer.
The letter making the offer should include the following information:
- Your name and the name of the organisation making the offer;
- The date of the offer;
- The job title and department/location.;
- Salary details;
- The period of notice required for either party to end the contract;
- The start date, or choice of dates available;
If all of these are acceptable, and if this is the job you want above all others, all that you need to do is to write back accepting the offer on the terms stated.
|Typical letter offering employment:
I am pleased to be able to offer you the post of trainee retail manager with Thrushwoods PLC. The initial salary will be £4,100 plus benefits. We hope that you will be able to join us on the fifth of September. Please let us know if this is not convenient. Please see the enclosed information for full conditions of employment. I would be pleased if you could confirm your acceptance at your earliest convenience.
Graduate Recruitment Manager.
If all of these are acceptable, and if this is the job that you want above all others, all that you need to do is to write back accepting the offer and confirming that you will be able to start on the date proposed.
Life is not always so simple, though, and you may be reluctant to accept the offer as it stands. If the start date is inconvenient, the salary seems disappointingly low, or if other difficulties present themselves, then you may wish to negotiate with the employer before deciding whether to accept.
Another possible problem is that job offers are sometimes conditional: on achieving a certain class of degree, on passing a medical examination or on the receipt of satisfactory references (although most employers will take up your references before making the offer). If you wish to accept a conditional offer, you should write back as above to confirm your acceptance but also note the conditions attached. It may be possible to negotiate these at a later stage: if, for example, you narrowly miss out on the required degree class.
Too much too soon?
The most common problem for finalists is when you receive an offer from Company A while your application to Company B is still pending. You may not even have been offered an interview by Company B yet , but you still feel that this, if offered, is the job that you would prefer. So what should you do about Company A in the meantime?
DO NOT ignore their offer and assume that they will be happy to hold it for you until you get around to replying. Not only does this create a bad impression but some employers may take your silence for a refusal.
What you must NOT do is to accept the first offer and then withdraw your acceptance if you are later offered a more attractive job. A written acceptance forms a contract between yourself and the employer. The guidelines for “Best Practice in Graduate recruitment”, drawn up by graduate recruiters, careers services and the NUS, state that:
Once an offer has been accepted, decline all other offers and cancel other applications immediately. If candidates wish to qualify their acceptance in any way …. this must be clearly stated at the time of acceptance. Such qualification may affect the terms of the offer.
Dear Miss Marshall
Thank you for the post of trainee retail manager with Thrushwoods. I am most happy to accept and confirm that I will be able to start on the 5th of September
If the offer has been made early in the academic year, you should not need to give an immediate and final decision. The guidelines also state that:
Employers should be flexible in the setting of deadlines for the acceptance of offers. Short deadlines may limit the ability of students to make informed decisions and prejudice the recruitment activities of other employers.
Most major graduate recruiters respect these guidelines and are unlikely to specify a deadline for acceptance of any offer made before the start of the Spring term. You should, though, still acknowledge receipt of the offer, saying that, although you are unable to give a definite decision at present, you are still very interested in the job, but would like to have a little extra time before you commit to them. You should also give the employer an indication of when they can expect to hear your final decision.
This tactic does carry the risk that the employer might just withdraw the offer if it is not accepted in what they regard as a reasonable time. If the employer is a regular recruiter of large numbers of graduates, this risk may not be so great but in highly competitive fields, such as advertising and merchant banking, you will need to consider very seriously whether it is worth running. You have done well to get this first offer, but how confident are you that others will follow - and if they do, will they be significantly better?
Some points to consider when deciding between offers:
If you have one offer but are waiting to hear the results of your applications to other organisations:
- Take a realistic look at your application and your career plans. How confident are you that your other applications will be as successful as this one? Do you feel that other employers, if they make you an offer, will be significantly different in the career prospects and working environment?
- If you ask for more time, what impression will you make on your potential future employer? While large companies will observe the best practice guidelines mentioned above, smaller organisations may not have the same flexibility.
If you are trying to decide between two or more offers:
- You are obviously a good candidate and any employer will want you to choose them rather than their competitors – so if you feel you need more information about the organisation, or want to visit and talk to recent graduates before making your final decision, don’t hesitate to contact the Graduate Recruitment department, who will usually be happy to arrange this for you.
- Think about what is important to you – not just the work itself but also the location, working environment, company culture etc. It is often seemingly minor factors like these which make all the difference.
- While a high salary or a “golden hello” may be very tempting to a new graduate loaded with student debt, look at the longer-term prospects too. An organisation paying a slightly lower starting salary may have a higher potential for longer-term earnings. Issues such as job satisfaction, training and personal development opportunities are more important in the long run than salary level.
Dear Miss Marshall
Thank you for your offer of the post of trainee retail manager. I am at present in the process of attending several other interviews and would prefer to see the outcome of these before making my final decision which I shall be happy to give you by the 1st of May. I must emphasis that I am extremely keen to join your company and will accept an offer forthwith if an extension is not possible.
Yours sincerely,Alison King
- Finally, career decisions are not usually scientific. When graduates are asked why they chose their first employer the reply is very often “they seemed the friendliest of the companies that offered me a job” and rarely regret making a decision on this basis. So just following your instincts may be the best plan!
NEGOTIATING WITH EMPLOYERS
If you have received an offer and want to ask the organisation which has made it for more time to decide:
- Write to the employer as outlined above, thanking them for their offer and letting them know when you will be able to confirm your decision;
- If the employer has given a deadline for you to let them know your decision, you may be able to get this extended: enquire a week or so before the deadline;
- Common sense should be enough to tell you what chances you can afford to take. If you have only the one offer and precious few interviews in prospect, it may be best to accept. If you have several interviews coming up, you may decide it is worth chancing your arm;
- Give a thought to other students and graduates applying for jobs. You are almost certainly increasing somebody else's problems when you negotiate more time for yourself. Employers, too, may need to plan their graduate training, and know details of their new recruits, some months ahead.
If you have received an offer from one employer and want to ask the other organisations to which you have applied about the progress of your application:
- There is no reason why you should not use the first job offer to try to persuade your first-choice employers to speed up their consideration of your application. Letting them know that you have already received one job offer may be a good psychological tactic!
- Contact the second employer[s] to ask when you can expect a decision on whether to offer you an interview/place at an assessment centre, etc, letting them know the reason why and any deadline that the other empoyer has set;
Dear Mr. Jones
Thank you for inviting me to interview on the 1st of May for the post of trainee retail manager. I have recently received a job offer from another retailer and have to give a reply in the near future. I am however very attracted to your training programme and wonder if my interview could be brought forward. I would be grateful for an early reply on this matter.
If you have received an offer from one employer but feel that you need more information before you accept it, or are unhappy about the salary, contract, start date etc
- You are obviously a good candidate and any employer will want you to choose them rather than their competitors – so if you feel you need more information about the organisation, or want to visit and talk to recent graduates before making your final decision, don’t hesitate to contact the Graduate Recruitment department, who will usually be happy to arrange this for you;
- Even so, don’t overestimate your ability to wheel and deal. Many large employers have elaborate recruitment schedules which cannot be adjusted to any real extent, training programmes that make it essential for all graduates to start on the same day or pay policies that make it impractical for them to negotiate individual starting salaries for graduates.
- While a high salary or a “golden hello” may be very tempting to a new graduate loaded with student debt, look at the longer-term prospects too. An organisation paying a slightly lower starting salary may have a higher potential for longer-term earnings. Issues such as job satisfaction, training and personal development opportunities are more important in the long run than salary level;
- Smaller employers, or those that recruit graduates only occasionally, may be more flexible on issues such as start dates but less able to negotiate on salary, terms and conditions of employment, etc. Be careful that your attempts at negotiation are not seen as arrogant or as overestimating your own worth;
Thank you for your email. After careful consideration I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your company.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite your company's outstanding previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore I will initiate employment with your firm immediately following graduation. I look forward to seeing you then.
- If any of your concerns are based around equality issues (adaptations to the workplace to accommodate a disability, arranging your work around religious observance, etc) then see the sections for Special Interest Groups on our homepage for specific information and useful links
TURNING DOWN A JOB OFFER
It's better to turn down an offer of a job if you now that you are not suited to it or would be unhappy in the role.
If you do have to say no, do so graciously. Thank the employer for making the offer and give a reason for why you are turning it down. Be honest, but don't be offensive or disparaging: it's possible that you may want to work for that employer at some time in the future!
FURTHER ADVICE AND INFORMATION
- Guidelines on Best Practice in Graduate Recruitment www.prospects.ac.uk/links/BestPractice
- Advice on job offers from prospects.ac.uk www.prospects.ac.uk/links/JobOffers
- Starting employment – the legal issues. Produced for pharmacy students but relevant to all areas of work. www.pjonline.com/students/tp2001/legalissues.html
- If you need advice on the terms and conditions of a contract of employment, contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureauwww.adviceguide.org.uk
- Equal Opportunities Commissionwww.eoc.org.uk – see the section on Your Rights At Work
- Information for employees from DirectGov www.direct.gov.uk/Employment/Employees/fs/en
Finally, if you have any questions at all about your job applications or job offers you have received, come in to the Careers and Employability Service and talk to a careers adviser.
Note - nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information but no responsibility can be taken for any errors or omissions.
Last fully updated 2011