Negotiating Your Offer

Choosing Between Job Offers

One of the toughest parts of a job search is deciding which offer to accept.  There are no easy answers, as almost every situation differs. The lack of a consistent hiring timeline by public service employers makes decision making a difficult part of the search process.

You can almost always buy time after you have received an offer. Since most job offers do not have to be accepted on the spot, you have the chance to consider all of the factors, such as responsibilities, salary, training and supervision.

Upon receiving an offer,  thank your employer for the good news, enthusiastically reiterate your interest in the job and ask when the office needs to hear back from you. You may automatically have a week or more to decide.

You can extend your decision-making time by asking to revisit the office and meet some of the people with whom you will be working  or by requesting the names and contact information of students who worked at that office in the past in order to speak with them about their summer experiences.

Gauge how much time you can wait by how soon you are expected to begin work, how many job openings the employer needs to fill and whether or not you will be compensated. An employer who asks you to volunteer for the summer will be fairly understanding when you tell her or him that you need a few weeks to secure funding before accepting an offer. In the meantime, call your top-choice employers and tell them that you have received an offer and are hoping that they might make a decision before your acceptance deadline. Employers may speed up their selection process if they risk losing a worthy and interested candidate. 

Be honest with your contacts. Let them know why you need more time and that you do not want to lose the opportunity altogether. Finally, ask them what the final cutoff date must be for you to reach a decision.

Students wishing to discuss choosing between offers should make an appointment with an OPIA advisor

Letting Employers Down Easy

Always make an effort to turn down the employer without burning any bridges. Remember, the public service world is not boundless; you may find yourself looking for a job with the same employer or hoping to make a networking contact through someone from the office. Just because you will not be working there now, do not assume you will never be in touch with the office again.

First of all, keep your promises. If you said you would call the employer with your answer by a certain date, do so. Always contact the person who offered you the job directly to let him or her know your decision.

Never leave a rejection on voice mail, email, or with an assistant unless you have been instructed to do so. Make sure to thank the employer for his or her time and offer an explanation for your refusal. Follow up on your final conversation with a letter or email. If you are still interested in working for the organization in the future, leave the option open by noting in the letter or conversation that you will contact the organization during your next job search.

Do Not Renege on an Accepted Job Offer

Employers are aware that students are weighing offers and are often flexible, but it’s critical that you respect their timelines and handle any negotiations professionally and courteously. Accepting a job or internship is a final decision; you may not renege your acceptance for another offer.  Doing so is unacceptable and can harm your professional reputation.  If you are unsure of what to do, speak with an advisor before accepting.

Last modified: August 21, 2014

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