Accepting & Rejecting Job Offers

Receiving a Job Offer

Job offers are generally made by mail, phone or e-mail. The majority of employers will confirm a verbal job offer in writing including salary, position, and start date. Job offers are very easy to accept on the spot. DON’T!! Ask for some time (usually one week is enough) to think about it. Before you accept an offer, evaluate the position carefully. 


  • Job responsibilities, type of work, job security, supervision, co-workers
  • Size of company, working conditions, environment, company reputation
  • Salary range, employee benefits
  • Geographical location, required travel
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Future possibilities - where could the job lead?

If you accept the offer:

  • Write a letter confirming your acceptance, even if you have accepted verbally
  • Confirm the starting date and time
  • Confirm the salary
  • Keep a copy of the letter for your files


Notes on Salary

Salary is rarely discussed during the initial interview. Wait for the interviewer to bring up the topic. Most recruiters cover salary information during the second interview. If he/she does not discuss salary with you, it is not appropriate to inquire until an offer has been made. It is a good idea to have a general idea of salary level for positions you are considering prior to interviewing. You can research this information in the Salary Survey compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, ChoicesPlanner (through R-CareerLink) and other Career Resources Online


Negotiating for Money

Negotiating for a salary offer is a delicate process designed to initiate a discussion between you and the employer about your initial worth. Before you begin, objectively evaluate the offer. Compare the offer to the most recent salary statistics.  Remember that salaries must be considered in light of a number of other factors: evaluation processes, cost of living, salary subsidies such as a car, tuition reimbursements, and benefits packages. Only after careful and objective consideration should you decide to negotiate salary.

Before you begin a dialogue, evaluate carefully what you have to offer that would be worth the extra salary - excellent grades, career related experience, specialized course work, strong leadership indicators, or proven performance in a particular area. What do you have to negotiate with? You must have more than a simple desire to make more money. Evaluate also the flexibility of the offer. If the employer already indicated the salary levels are predefined and not flexible, it will probably not be fruitful to initiate a discussion.

Go into the discussion with a win-win attitude. Always be objective and discuss the factors you want and why you feel you should get them without being personal. Throughout the negotiations, let the employer know you are interested. Don’t rush the discussion and don’t let silence make you feel uncomfortable. When you have discussed the factors that you want to discuss, listen to the employer’s counter-offer. If you decide the counter-offer is acceptable, write an acceptance letter detailing the new employment specifications and thanking the employer for their support. If you are still unhappy with the offer, you can reopen the negotiations. Remember, at some point you will have to decide whether you will be happy with the offer as it stands. If not, and you have tried to negotiate, you may need to write a letter declining the offer of employment.

Deadlines for accepting or rejecting an offer range from one week to the end of the semester. Do not wait until the last minute to accept a job offer. The employer will think you are not interested in the position. Keep in mind that an employer has the right to withdraw the offer any time prior to acceptance.


Replying to a Job Offer

Only accept one job offer. You should only accept an offer after you have cleared your decisions or negotiations on other offers. Be ethical in all of your employment dealings. When you accept an offer you should stop interviewing, cancel any further interviews, and notify other employers who are considering you as a candidate that you have accepted another position. This will maintain your image in the employer community as a professional individual.


Requesting Deadline:  If no deadline is given, express great interest, ask how soon they need a decision, and mention your time frame if you have one.

Requesting More Time: It’s all right to ask for more time, especially if you are given only a short amount of time to think about an offer. Specify the amount of time you would like. But remember, there’s a risk involved - the employer may withdraw the job offer.

Using an Offer as Leverage With Other Employers: If you are awaiting word of an offer from another employer in which you are very interested, write or call (depending on urgency) to say that another employer has made you an offer and before making a decision you would like to know your status. Don’t push too hard or the employer may lose interest.

Declining an Offer: Reply as soon as possible in writing. Indicate why you are declining if you can do so tactfully and constructively. You may just say you have accepted a position with another organization. It is acceptable to mention the name of the organization. End with an appropriate statement to keep the door open for some possible future contact. In other words, stay on good terms.


Job Search Rejections

Rejections are a real part of the job search process. You should expect to receive several rejections. After a while, you may become discouraged thinking that you will never get hired. If you get very discouraged, the best thing to do is give yourself a day off; do something that will take your mind off of the search and help you to relax. On the following day, reevaluate your search, consider new strategies and continue. The key to a successful job search is persistence!


There are several reasons why you may be rejected: there was not a good match between you and the job; your background is not strong enough to start in the position; or there was a good match and your background is competitive, but you simply did not interview well. If the employer found that there was not a good match, you probably would not have been happy in the position. If, on the other hand, your experiences have not prepared you for the position, meet with a career counselor to examine your interests and marketability. If your rejection came as a result of interviewing skills, take heart. Interviewing skills can be improved. Schedule a videotaped mock interview with a career counselor and/or practice your skills online with InterviewStream (accessed through R-CareerLink).

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