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Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Handbook
Contents

Advice on Considering a Job Offer

What to do when you’re offered a job

An email pops up in the corner of your screen. Your heart skips a beat as you see the words ‘We’re delighted to offer…’

Congratulations – you’ve got a job offer! With all that CV-pruning, cover letter-refining, and interviewing, you’ve worked hard. Before you do anything else, you should celebrate this success for itself.

But accepting a job offer is a big decision and you might find yourself faced with a set of tricky questions. Do I really want this job? Would I be happy at this company? You might even be waiting to hear back from other companies, unsure about whether to take this offer for security’s sake.

We know just how difficult deciding about a job offer can be, so we’ve put together some tips for making that decision.

What do I say on the phone?

Often, a job offer is made first via phone call (followed by an email offer and then a contract). This can be stressful if you’re not ready to accept just yet!

Remember: you don’t have to make up your mind there and then on the phone. You can simply thank the employer for their offer and say you’ll need a little more time to get back to them. They may give you a time they need you to have decided by, but if they don’t, it’s helpful for you to specify when you will get back to them. A week or less is best, unless you have a very good reason – and make sure you do get back to them when you say you will.

How do I respond to an email?

You may receive your offer by email rather than by phone, looking something like this:

If you receive your offer by email rather than by phone, make sure you are responsive! Always reply within 48 hours to thank the employer for their offer, and we recommend replying within 24 hours if it’s during the week.

As well as thanking the employer, your response should specify when you will be able to confirm your decision (if they haven’t already specified a time they need your answer by themselves). And again, be sure to stick to your word.

How do I decide about my offer?

A good place to start is by asking yourself what’s most important to you in a job. It might be one or more of several things:

  • The work itself. Your job day-to-day – its particular tasks and challenges, its contribution to the bigger picture, or the opportunity to develop your skills in a particular field.
  • The work environment. Your company’s culture and colleagues, and your relationship with them.
  • Salary. Feeling compensated for your time and effort – or paying your rent!
  • Practical matters. Having a job near your house, or one that lets you work remotely, or sponsors your visa.
  • Perks. A workplace with free yoga classes, beer on tap, amazing career development opportunities, cake…

Once you know what’s important to you, consider how your offer measures up (an old-fashioned pros and cons list can be useful here).

  • Research the role, company, and workplace with fresh eyes, now you’ve been offered the position.
  • Think about how you felt about your interviews – the people who took them; the venues where they were held (if relevant).
  • Ask yourself, in taking up this role, would you have to make any major compromises? Is there any way you could adjust these?

You might also find it helpful to think through your offer with others. Ask your parents or friends in similar fields what they would do and why. This can be a great way to gauge whether your expectations are reasonable and see the situation from different perspectives.

How do I approach my employer with questions?

You might have some questions that only your potential employer can answer – for example, about your working hours or your visa. If you’ve been offered a job, you know a company is interested in you – so don’t feel afraid to approach them with questions!

That being said, we suggest keeping four principles in mind when communicating with your potential employer prior to accepting an offer:

  • Courtesy. Even though you have the offer, it’s still important to make a good impression!
    • Always begin your querying email with, ‘Thank you for your offer…’ Show that you are grateful for the opportunity before asking for changes.
    • Justify your requests, and show respect for the employer’s concerns as well as your own. Don’t give ultimatums!
    • Be neat and formal.
  • Clarity. Ask readable, focused questions. You’re communicating with your employer to make sure this opportunity is right for you – so make sure it’s absolutely clear what you’re trying to find out.
  • Be realistic in your negotiations. For example, if the stipulated salary is £18,000, you might reasonably be able to push it to £20,000, but it would be inappropriate to ask for £50,000. You can check out our guide to average graduate salaries here.
  • Timeliness. Be respectful of others’ time and transparent with your timeline. Always respond promptly to a potential employer’s messages – and if you say you’ll get back to them by Tuesday, get back to them by Tuesday.

What about if I’m waiting on another interview?

When you’re job-hunting – particularly as a recent graduate – you’ll likely be making multiple applications around the same time. If you hear back from one company before another, it’s natural to want to wait to make your decision.

However, it’s important to let the company which has made you an offer know where you stand! After all, they might be waiting on your decision to know whether to offer the role to someone else they’ve interviewed, who is in turn waiting to hear from them.

So, don’t just keep the company in limbo. Be clear about when you will get back to them. If you have another interview in two days’ time, tell the company that you will get back to them in three – and make sure you do.

Making your final decision

Once you’ve gathered all the information you can, it’s crunch time! Making a major decision is almost never easy – but if you’ve probed your gut feeling, done your research, and weighed up the rationale for accepting, it’ll be okay 😎 Remember that no job is perfect! There will be successes and challenges, whatever role you end up in. And whatever happens, your job – especially a fresh graduate job – is not for life.

So I’ve accepted the role…what now? See our Tips on Starting a New Job and handy Workplace Glossary.

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