Given the economic downturn, it is tempting to rush into accepting a job offer. Whether you have received one offer or several, you should evaluate the offer as thoroughly as possible. Your may also want to check the financial stability of the organisation making it, and whether the current business climate is likely to have any significant adverse impact on their bottom line as this may in turn mean they need fewer staff.
Even when you have received a job offer, don’t stop applying for jobs or attending interviews until you have received a written job offer or better still, a contract.
Don’t rush into a decision. The employer may make a verbal job offer, usually over the phone and may press you to say yes (or no) on the spot. It’s OK to be excited by an offer. However it is advisable as part of your response to say …I look forward to receiving written confirmation of your job offer and the contract.
The employer is generally keen to get an immediate answer from you for a number of reasons. They will want to secure your services before a competitor can do so. If you are going to reject their offer they will want to move quickly to avoid missing out on other candidates they will have on a reserve list. They will want to ensure that the time and effort invested in preparing a contract will be worthwhile. If your reject their offer they will expect you to give a reason.
Don’t be afraid to ask smart questions to help you make good decisions. Where you are holding more that one offer, you may wish to say… I am concerned that any dramatic economic downturn over the next 6 months could adversely affect (name of organisation) and lead to a reconsideration of your offer…is this a likely scenario?
Read details of the job offer carefully. The employer will send you two copies of the contract, already signed by the company. You are entitled to several days if needed to consider the offer and seek advice if necessary. Check that the information and details such as start dates and salary are correct.
If important points agreed on are missing or incorrect you could ask to have these added or amended. When you are satisfied with the contract, sign both copies. Keep one for your reference and return the other to the organisation. The Department of Labour website has information about what an employment offer/agreement should include and examples.
While it is good to trust your instincts, when assessing a job offer it can also be valuable write down your thoughts. Write down a) what appeals to you about the role and organisation and b) what your short term career goals are c) any personal circumstances to be considered eg health, relationships and life goals. This can help you to identify issues that could be clarified or negotiated with the employer. Here are a few points to consider and you may have others to add.
- The salary package*
- Opportunities for career-advancemen
- Training and access to a mentor and buddy
- Rapport with peers
- Rapport with managers
- The workplace culture**
- The organisation’s status and reputation
- The organisation’s values
- Travel opportunities and links with organisations overseas
- Working hours and annual leave
- Location and physical environment
*This is the salary plus benefits such as superannuation, payment of course and exam fees, clothing allowance, laptop and mobile; subsidised meals, crèche facilities, gym membership, health insurance, travel and parking
**Whether it is competitive or supportive, relaxed or intense, structured or unstructured. Whether socialising outside office hours is facilitated or discouraged.
Using problem-solving and decision making concepts and tools used in business can also assist you in evaluating job offers. Go to www.mindtools.com for really clear explanations about what to use, when and how.
If you are rejecting (or declining) an offer, give careful thought to how you will handle this. Be sensitive and avoid ‘burning bridges’ as you may find yourself applying for positions with this organisation in the future or meet your interviewers elsewhere professionally or socially. You should certainly write a formal letter thanking them for their offer and explaining briefly why you are rejecting it. In some circumstances it may be an additional courtesy to phone the employer to inform them of your decision and confirm that your have also declined the offer in writing.
Most organisations will phone a candidate who rejects an offer to check that the reasons for the offer being declined are ones beyond their control. Avoid mentioning the name of the organisation where you have accepted an offer elsewhere. For sample letters declining a job offer see the letters folder in the Vic Careers Library.