How to Navigate Offers

Navigating offers for internships, co-ops, jobs, etc., can be exciting, stressful, and complex. We’ve put together tips to help you throughout the whole process.

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How to prepare for an offer

The process for evaluating an offer begins when you establish the criteria you will use. Ideally, this should be done before you start searching for a position. Knowing what you want from a position and organization will help you find more relevant opportunities. Review the following items to set your own criteria for evaluating an opportunity: 

  • Fit, role, and responsibilities: The job is a good fit for your interests, skills, abilities, and personality. You have clarified what is expected of you and are confident the work is something you want to do. 
  • Reputation of organization: The standing of the organization in the community, regionally, and nationally fits what is important to you.
  • Culture of the organization and work environment: Mission, vision, values (envisioned & practiced), goals, and how the manager/boss/president/CEO runs the workplace. Spend some time investigating the type of culture you’ll need to succeed in your position. And sometimes, you need to experience a certain environment to figure out that it doesn’t work for you
  • Salary, benefits: There are many aspects to salary and benefits. Determine how important each of these options is to you.
    • Base salary: Is this within the pay range for your field, your experience, and geographic location?
    • Commission and bonuses
    • Projected salary increases  
    • Health and dental benefits
    • Retirement plans
    • Stock options and profit sharing
    • Life insurance and disability benefits
    • Vacation and sick leave
    • Parental leave
    • Paid holidays
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Additional perks 
  • Location: Establish the location(s) where you would realistically like to live and work. 
  • Schedule: Work schedule expectations and policies fit what are important to you. Consider the schedule for a typical week and the number of hours you are expected to work each day.
  • Remote Work: Determine if you want to work at a remote-first organization, in a hybrid work space, or in-person. 
  • Hidden costs or perks: Consider the time to commute, cost for parking, availability of public transportation, on-site daycare, need for a professional wardrobe, and relocation.
  • Career path: Consider how this position will impact your short-term and long-term career goals.

How to evaluate an offer

Congratulations, you have an offer! We recognize receiving an offer can be exciting and stressful. Express your appreciation for the offer immediately by phone or email. Request time to consider and ask for the offer in writing.

Here is a framework for how to evaluate the quality of an offer. This process will help you set your standards for what you are willing to negotiate. Refer to the criteria listed in the How to Prepare for an Offer section above.

  • High-level offer. This is an offer you will take and run with if it is put on the table. You probably won’t negotiate. 
  • Medium-level offer. This is pretty average for the industry. If you are offered this, you may take some time to think, and at the end of the day, you know it is a solid offer. You may or may not want/need to negotiate.
  • Low-level offer. This is an offer you would not be very willing to accept because it compromises some of your non-negotiable standards. Typically, this type of offer requires some negotiation for you to consider it.

How to negotiate an offer and/or salary

Salary negotiation can be done to ensure you receive fair market value for your work. Before you begin negotiating, determine if the organization negotiates salary, secure your offer in writing, and evaluate the entire salary and benefits package based on your research of the market. You can use negotiation to find a compromise that enables both you and the employer to be happy with the outcome.

Six steps for benchmarking your salary and benefits: 

  • Research and identify a comparable job title
  • Find the salary range for your industry and geographic region
  • Identify your target salary range
  • Create a realistic budget
  • Determine your resistance or “walk-away” point
  • Determine the value of your benefits

The Basics of Salary Negotiation

Salary resources:

How to accept an offer

  • Take time to consider your options. Review, evaluate and compare all the offers you have received.
  • If the position does not qualify as a high-level offer, call employers you have interviewed with and ask where they are in their hiring process timeline. Indicate you are still interested in the position and need to respond to another offer. 
  • Formally accept the offer through the process as indicated by the organization. 
  • Don’t accept multiple offers.
  • Do the best you can to wait to accept an offer if there is another offer you want and are waiting on. Declining an offer after accepting it should be avoided, as it can eliminate the possibility of working for the organization in the future because the employer must restart the hiring process they have put significant time and effort into.
  • Contact all other employers to withdraw from further consideration and thank everyone.

How to reject an offer

There are several reasons why people turn down job offers including: a better offer, the money, the work itself, or the people at the organization. Here are some tips to help you: 

  • Show appreciation. Always express sincere thanks for the people you interviewed with and thank them for their time.
  • Let the organization know once you have made a decision. Formally communicate your decision to the employer as soon as possible so they can move forward with hiring other candidates. 
  • Share what you liked about the organization. Speaking positively about an organization shows you had true interest in working for them and they didn’t waste their valuable time interviewing with you.
  • Leave the door open. If you still have interest in this employer and this particular job was not a good fit, keep the door open for the future by saying something such as, “I hope there may be opportunities for us to work together in the future.”
  • Be honest about your reason for turning down the job. Hiring managers wish to know the real reason a candidate is turning down an offer, because it gives them an opportunity to possibly revise offers to be more competitive. While we encourage you to be truthful, don’t feel obligated to share everything impacting your decision. 

Things to remember:

  • Don’t speak poorly about the organization
  • Don’t ignore the offer
  • Don’t lead the employer on if you’ve already decided to not accept the offer

How to increase chances of receiving an offer

If you think you’re struggling with your search, here are a few ideas to help you increase your chances of receiving an offer. If you’re applying for positions, but have not gotten offers for interviews, review your application materials. If you’re getting interviews, but no offers, review your interview process.

  • Have a positive mindset, be open to different opportunities, and be aware of how you present yourself throughout the whole search process.
  • Be sure your qualifications match those listed in the job description.
  • Clarify your career goals and practice articulating them.
  • Submit a complete application with a targeted cover letter and resume. Have your documents reviewed by the Career Center to make sure they are error-free and present your qualifications well. 
  • Research the organization to help you demonstrate your qualifications and how you will add value to the organization.
  • Prepare for the interview.
  • Dress for the interview by researching appropriate attire for the industry. When in doubt, dress more professionally.
  • Be enthusiastic and clear that you are interested in the position.
  • Follow-up with a thank you email message or letter restating your interest.