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.

Picture of Letters Arriving

The letter making the offer should include the following information:


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:

Dear Allison,

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.

Yours sincerely,

Debbie Marshall,

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.

First and reserve choices

A typical procedure is that employers decide on their first choice candidate and then ring or email them to offer them the job. They also keep a reserve candidate who they don't contact until they've had a confirmation from the first candidate, and send rejection emails to everyone else.

If the first choice doesn't accept within say 24 hours they offer it to the reserve.

Conditions attached

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.

Alison King
5 Big Street,
C52 5ZZ

Employer's Name and Addrees

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

Yours sincerely

Alison King

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? Picture of Key


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:

If you are trying to decide between two or more offers:


If you have received an offer and want to ask the organisation which has made it for more time to decide:


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:

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


At the end of a job interview, an HR manager asked a young, very self-confident, business graduate, "And what starting salary are you looking for?"

The graduate said, "In the neighbourhood of £50,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of 7 weeks holidays, full medical and dental insurance, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every two years - say, a BMW?"

The applicant sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

And the interviewer replied, "Yes, but you started it." 



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!



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