Evaluate, Negotiate, and Accept an Offer



Evaluating and Negotiating an Offer

Once you have been given an offer by an employer you may have additional questions that will make the decision to accept or decline a difficult one. You may be asking “Is this the right job for me?” “Will I be happy working here?” “Is the salary enough?” “What will my career look like if I stay here for five years?”

Evaluating the Job Offer

Begin with an assessment of yourself, your needs, and desires. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are my career goals? Does this job offer meet my aspirations?
  • What are my priorities and obligations? Will this job offer allow me to fulfill these needs?
  • Does this organization meet my standards, morals, and values?
  • Will this position offer me enough challenge to grow, learn, and develop new skills?
  • Are the salary opportunities, benefits, and working environment what I am looking for?

Begin by researching the position and learning everything you can about it. Evaluate the company’s current position in the industry and learn all about the organization. There are many things to consider when doing this research:

The Company

  • History
  • Financial standing
  • Growth/development potential
  • Large vs. small company
  • International exposure
  • Reputation
  • Priorities
  • Work schedule options
  • Community involvement
  • Professional development
  • Corporate culture
  • Relocation opportunities
  • Education benefits
  • Stock option benefits

The Position

  • Promotion potential
  • Personality of your potential boss
  • Organization’s management style
  • Pace of work
  • Training provided
  • Co-workers
  • Working conditions
  • Travel/relocation requirements
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Social significance of the job
  • Overtime required
  • Management opportunities

The Location

  • Cost of living
  • Familiarity of the location
  • Entertainment
  • People in this location
  • Commuting time and cost
  • Rural vs. suburban vs. urban
  • Safety
  • Relocation assistance

Benefits Package
Look for dental, vision, 401K (for-profit), 403g (non-profit), healthcare, and vacation/sick time options. Take into account that sometimes benefits can be so great that they outweigh a lower salary offer. Make sure that your benefits package has full coverage for the items you need and not just partial coverage. Consider your future plans: For example, how will the benefits measure up if you want a family?

Salary and Bonus
It is important not to accept or decline an offer based only on the salary. Take into account the benefits package and the salary growth potential within a company. Bonuses should not entice you into accepting an offer if you are not sure about working there. If the salary is lower than you expected, there may be room to negotiate.       

Be sure to research the going rate for the job offer you have received and try to have your salary offer match or beat the going rate. USC Career Center staff can help you answer some of the confusing questions you may have about salary negotiations. The internet is a great resource for finding what you are worth. The NACE Salary Survey, is available in connectSC  (link to connectSC) under the “Resources” tab and provides national salary averages. Websites like www.salary.com and www.glassdoor.com can also provide salary and employee satisfaction data (also found in connectSC!).

Negotiating A Job Offer

Before you decide to negotiate, consider how realistic your negotiating is. Ask people in your industry whether it is appropriate for you to negotiate the offered salary based on your skills. Some of the things you may be able to negotiate include, but are not limited to the following: salary, one-time bonuses, tuition assistance, stock options, relocation assistance, flex-time, and extra vacation.

Take an assertive approach but don’t be rude. Be persuasive in conveying your worth to your potential employer. Don’t take it personally if they say no to your negotiation requests. Sometimes the representative that you are negotiating with can’t make decisions on the spot.

Tips to keep in mind:

  1. Be gracious and express your appreciation and enthusiasm for the job. Don’t give the impression it’s only about the money.
  2. Be informed and provide reasons why you’re asking for a salary increase.
  3. Schedule a conversation by phone over email to discuss the job offer to avoid any room for misinterpretation over email.

Avoid making these mistakes:

  1. Don’t accept the position on the spot.
  2. Don’t be overly aggressive.
  3. Don’t be concerned with what others will think if you do negotiate.
  4. Don’t be too concerned about losing an offer if you negotiate, as long as you’re professional in your approach.
  5. Don’t begin negotiating before an offer has been made.
  6. Don’t ask for a higher salary if you agreed upon a figure with an HR representative or Hiring Manager and the offer reflects that.
  7. Don’t negotiate unless you are seriously considering accepting the offer.

The Final Decision
Once you have made a final decision, it is time to notify the employer. First, call to verbally accept or decline the offer. Make sure you have a letter in writing from the employer outlining the offer before you accept it. Now is the time to send a letter of rejection or acceptance to your potential employers. If you decline the offer, you are not required to provide any details about any other offer you decide to accept.

Accepting and Reneging Offers

The Career Center encourages all students to be upfront and ethical in their actions with employers. To maintain your own professional reputation and that of the University, please adhere to these guidelines.  

When should I accept an internship/job offer?

  • Students should receive a written offer with specific job title/location/salary/benefits. Do not accept an offer until it is in writing.
  • If an organization gives you a verbal offer, request a written offer. An emailed offer is an acceptable offer.

How should I accept an offer?

  • Call the Human Resources Contact / Supervisor directly to let them know your decision
  • Regardless of your decision, follow up with an email

Is my offer binding once I’ve accepted an offer?

  • Once you have accepted a position, stay firm in your decision. If you have signed a contract from an organization, they might have specific penalties for students who renege the offer. It also reflects poorly on you and will negatively impact opportunities for fellow USC Trojans USC if you renege on an accepted offer.

What do I do if I’m juggling multiple offers?

  • Prioritize what you are looking for in an internship/job and look at all aspects. Consider work-life balance, your commute, salary, supervisor, benefits, flexible hours, available promotions, and the future of the organization.

What should I do if I’ve already received one offer but I haven’t heard from my dream organization?

  • Communicate with both parties.
  • For the organization that has offered you the position, notify them that you are finishing up with the recruiting process and hope to make your decision by a specific date (usually no more than 2-3 weeks)
  • Follow up with the dream organization to see if they have made a decision. Let them know that you’ve received another offer and are exploring your options.

How long do I have to make a decision on the offer?

  • Employers who participate in USC’s On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) Program are guided by the Career Center to allow you two weeks during the Fall semester and two weeks during the Spring semester from the offer date to make your decision. We encourage non-OCR employers to provide enough time for you to consider the offer and to make an informed decision. You should not be pressured by an employer to accept an offer immediately. If you need to ask for more time, do so.

Are there any consequences to reneging an offer?

  • Industries are small and recruiters are well connected – you could potentially harm your professional reputation resulting in limited opportunities for yourself in the future.

I’ve already accepted an offer but my dream organization just came through and offered me a position. What should I do?

  • Since you have accepted the first offer in good faith, it is not recommended to accept the second offer. If you choose to accept the second offer, there will be negative consequences.

I’ve accepted an offer.  What should I do next?

  • Remove yourself from the internship/job search
  • Politely decline all remaining offers by calling and emailing the recruiters
  • Cancel all remaining interviews

How do I turn down an offer?

  • Call the Human Resources Director/Supervisor to turn down the offer
  • Follow up with a written email to notify the employer. Please see our example for what to write in the email.

Example:  Declining Offer Letter

February 13, XXXX

Dear Ms. Walden:

Thank you for the marketing internship offer with Creative Marketing Company. I enjoyed meeting with you and your staff and appreciate the time you’ve given me to consider the offer.

Though Creative Marketing Company is an impressive company, I am declining the offer. I have decided to accept another offer I believe to be more appropriate for my current skills and career goals.

I want to thank you for the consideration and opportunity to work with your team. I wish you and the staff of Creative Marketing Company all the best.


Tiffany Traveler

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