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Evaluating Job Offers

Congratulations! You have a job offer! How you interact with a potential employer after an offer has been made is an opportunity to demonstrate why you will be an asset to the organization. Additionally, how you handle receiving a job offer can have a lasting impact on your salary and lifetime earnings. The Career Development Office (CDO) is available to answer questions and work with you during negotiations.

Upon Getting a Job Offer

It’s normal to ask for a few days or even a week to consider an offer.

Thank the employer for the job offer and reiterate your interest in the position. Mention that you would appreciate some time to consider the offer (run it by family/friends/mentors/etc.) and establish a date by which you will follow-up with them. If you know you will need a specific amount of time (for example, if another employer has said they will let you know within a week), you can ask for that amount of time. If you just want a little time to think about the offer, you can ask the employer when they need an answer by.

It's important to remember that a job offer is often more than a stated salary -- gather information!

When considering a job offer you will want to take into consideration the benefits that may also come with the job including: health insurance, retirement options, vacation time, etc. Make sure to request details on these additional benefits prior to making a decision about whether to accept a job or not. Run these details by your family and friends, mentors, influential faculty members, etc. You are also welcome to and encouraged to schedule an appointment at the CDO to discuss and receive feedback on any job offer you receive.

Now is the time to follow-up with other employers if you are waiting to hear from them about potential job offers. Let them know that you have received an offer from another company, but that you are very interested in the position you interviewed for with them. It is okay to say to the other employer, "I am very interested in this position and organization—in fact, you are my first choice. Though I have received another offer, this position is the best match for my strengths." Try to get an estimate of the timing involved. Then, contact the employer that has offered you a job and ask if you can let them know your answer by whatever date that is. Keep following up with the employer in progress. Maintain your professionalism at all times. 

Do your research. Know how low a salary you are willing to accept and what risks you are willing to take.

Make sure to research the cost of living in that location and your budget requirements. CashCourse is an online resource for Vassar students that provides financial education on topics such as budgeting, renting an apartment, and financing/leasing a car. If you are attempting to negotiate on the salary it is important to identify three numbers: your ideal salary number, a smaller number that you would still be happy with, and the minimum you are willing to accept before walking away. 

Negotiating a Job Offer

If the job itself sounds great, but you are concerned about the salary, you may be able to negotiate.

As a recent graduate, you won't have a lot of wiggle room to negotiate salary, but it is okay to ask if there is room for negotiation if you have the skills and experience to back it up. Negotiate based on your skills, experience, and understanding of the salary standards for the specific field and location.

Your negotiations will be most successful if you are well-prepared. Research the salary range for the field and location in advance so you can suggest a reasonable salary range.  and The NACE Salary CalculatorGlassdoor, and Salary.com are all helpful tools when it comes to researching salaries within particular fields or companies.

Sample Text/Script for Negotiations:

"I am thrilled at the prospect of working for [specific company/organization] and using my skills in this position. As you know from my resume and interview, I have direct experience in this area and I believe I bring significant skills to this position. Based on my background and my research on salary standards in this industry, I'd like to negotiate the salary and I am hoping something more in the $__ to $__ range is possible. Is there any room for negotiation?"

  • It is best to give a range if attempting to negotiate.
  • Never mention personal budget needs as part of the negotiation. This is your concern, not the employer's.
  • If you've received other offers during this search that were higher, let the employer know and ask if it would be possible to match the best offer. Many employers will try to match another offer if they can.

Keep in mind that it will not always be possible to negotiate for a higher salary. If the employer cannot offer you more money, or if there are other terms of the job that you wish were slightly different, ask before making the final decision to accept the position. Sometimes employers will negotiate extra vacation time (or will allow you to take unpaid leave time if extra vacation is not possible). In the busines world, employers may be able to offer a signing bonus, stocks or other incentives, or an early first performance review that would enable you to be eligible for raises or promotions if you produce excellent work.

Accepting a Job Offer

When accepting a position, express your enthusiasm and request that the offer be confirmed in writing.

Establish a starting date, and be sure to discuss any prior commitments already on your calendar. Share your good news with those who helped you along the way and don't forget to withdraw your name from other searches.

Only under extreme circumstances may a candidate accept a position, and then rescind their acceptance shortly after.

Family illness, changes in family circumstances, and similar extreme situations are the only times in which one can renege on an offer. Receiving a better offer is not a legitimate reason. Accept a position only when you are truly ready to take the offer. Feel free to consult the CDO for guidance.