Assessing, Comparing, or Declining Job Offers

Assessing an Offer
Comparing Two (or More) Job Offers
Declining an Offer

Assessing an Offer

You've received an offer for a co-op, internship, or entry-level full-time position—congratulations! Now, you need to decide whether or not the offer is right for you.

Offer assessment is important and should never be taken lightly! Whether you'll be working for a particular employer for a few months or a few years, it's very important to consider such factors as:

  • The proposed salary and benefits package—does it seem fair, based on average co-op/internship/starting salary data for your major?
  • The employer's core business and corporate values—do they match your interests and goals?
  • Your potential supervisor and/or co-workers—if you interviewed on-site, did you like the people you met? Do you think you would fit in?
  • The size of the company—how do you feel about working for a small startup? A huge multinational corporation?
  • The position itself—does it make good use of your skills? Do you anticipate enjoying your day-to-day duties, based on what you know about the job?
  • Fit of the position with your desired lifestyle—will you be willing to work long hours if required? Travel frequently?
  • Flexibility of the employer—are working hours strictly scheduled, or do you have the option to start work earlier or end later?
  • Housing options near the employer—are there acceptable housing options located near the company or organization? If not, are you willing to commute long distances, perhaps in heavy traffic?

If you're considering an entry-level full-time position after graduation, you'll also want to consider these factors:

  • Relocation—how much of this cost is the employer willing to cover? The cost of moving can be substantial if you have to cover all or most of it yourself, especially if you move across the country!
  • Potential for advancement—is there a path for employees to get ahead? Does the company or organization promote from within?
  • Anticipated long-term demand for the company's products or services—is the employer positioned to survive an economic downturn?

Finally, even if you are currently single with no immediate plans to have a family, you are also encouraged to think of longer-term issues when you are considering an entry-level position. For example, is there much other industry near your employer, where your future partner/spouse might be able to find a job? Are there decent public schools in the area where you plan to live, in case you eventually have children?

Comparing Two (or More) Job Offers

If you've received two (or more) job offers, your choice isn't whether or not to accept an offer, but rather which one to accept. It can be a tough decision, especially if you really like certain aspects of both/all positions!

The first issue to consider is salary/benefits. Your choice may seem like a no-brainer if Employer A is offering $60K/year and Employer B is offering $75K/year. However, you also need to consider the benefits package that each employer is proposing. Once your basic salary requirements have been met (i.e., both employers have offered enough to meet your budgeted needs and to pay your bills), look carefully at:

  • Vacation time allowance
  • Sick/personal time allowance
  • Disability benefits
  • Health insurance options (including optical and dental coverage)
  • Life insurance options
  • 401(K) or pension plan
  • Continuing education options

You might find that the benefits you are being offered by one company actually add up to much more than you'd think based on just the salary!

The other important consideration is cost of living. The value of the salary you are offered really depends on the cost of living in the area where you will be working, so it's worthwhile to consider the affordability of two or more job locations you are considering, based on your anticipated income level.

Costs of living vary widely according to location. For example a small apartment in a major city like New York might cost a lot more than a whole house in a smaller town or a rural area; however, your commuting costs might be more substantial if you have to drive from a rural area to your workplace than if you can walk to work or take public transportation, as you might do in a city. The costs of food and other amenities can also vary significantly by location.

Declining an Offer

If you decide that a particular internship, co-op, or entry-level position is not right for you, or if you have more than one company interested in you, you will ultimately have to turn down one or more offers.

If you need to decline an offer, it's best to contact the employer by phone as soon as you have made your decision. Be gracious and polite. Thank your contact for the offer, explain briefly that you have decided to accept another position that is a better fit for your interests and professional goals, express appreciation for the time that he or she spent with you, and wish him or her the best of luck in finding the right person for the position.

Expect to feel a little awkward about making this call. It's never easy to turn someone down verbally but it's the right thing to do, so do it—and then follow up in writing. Remember that this is a professional decision on your part, not a personal rejection of the contact—and he or she will not take it personally!

No matter what, never say or write anything negative about the company (e.g., on social media). You never know when you might need your contact's help in the future!

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