Evaluate, Negotiate, and Accept an Offer

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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.

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 Organization

  • History
  • Financial standing
  • Large vs. small company
  • Reputation
  • Work schedule options
  • Community involvement
  • Professional development
  • Organizational 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
  • Travel/relocation requirements
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Overtime required

The Location

  • Cost of living
  • Entertainment
  • People in this location
  • Commuting time and cost
  • Safety
  • Relocation assistance

Benefits Package
Look for dental, vision, 401k (for-profit), 403(b) (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. Our 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 Calculator is available in 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).

Create a Budget
It is important to assess whether you can afford to accept a job based on your monthly expenses and lifestyle. The first step in determining this is creating a post college budget that accounts for both fixed expenses like rent and student loan payments and discretionary expenses like entertainment. Take into account startup expenses including work clothes. Websites like www.mint.com and this article can walk you through the process of creating a budget.

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.

Strategies for Successful Negotiations

  1. Wait until an offer has been made by an HR representative or a hiring manager before you negotiate. Only negotiate if you are seriously considering accepting the offer.
  2. Be gracious and express your appreciation and enthusiasm for the job. Do not give the impression it is only about the salary.
  3. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate a job offer before accepting, and avoid accepting the position on the spot. It is completely acceptable to inquire about when your decision needs to be made so that you do not feel rushed.
  4. Schedule a conversation by phone (rather than email) to discuss the job offer to avoid any room for misinterpretation over email.
  5. Be informed and provide reasons why you are asking for a salary increase.
  6. Make sure that you negotiate before you agree upon a salary with the HR representative or hiring manager. Once you make an agreement, you should avoid backtracking.
  7. Negotiation is standard in the job search process; in fact, it is often expected. As long as you negotiate professionally and respectfully, and are not overly aggressive or demanding, you do not need to worry about losing your 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 Not Reneging Internship/Job Offers

All students need to be professional and ethical in their interactions with employers. To maintain your professional reputation and that of the University, you need to adhere to these guidelines. Contact us before you make any decision; allow us to help you!  

When should I accept an internship/job offer?

  • You should receive a written offer with the job title, location, salary, and benefits. Do not accept an offer until it is in writing.
  • If an organization gives you a verbal offer, request a written offer. An email offer is an acceptable offer as long as it includes the information listed in the previous bullet point.

How should I accept an offer?

  • Call the HR Contact/Supervisor, or the contact who gave you the offer, to let her know your decision.
  • Regardless of your decision, follow up with an email.

Is my offer binding once I have 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 Trojans if you renege on an accepted offer.

What do I do if I am juggling multiple offers?

  • Prioritize what you are looking for in an internship/job and weigh 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 have already received one offer, but I have not 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). Inquire about when they need you to make a firm decision.
  • Follow up with the dream organization to see if they have made a decision. Let them know that you have 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 from the offer date to make your decision. Summer interns who receive permanent offers may have until November 1 to accept. We encourage non-OCR employers to provide enough time for you to consider the offer and make an informed decision. You should not be pressured by an employer to accept an offer immediately. Ask for more time to carefully consider the offer.

Are there any consequences to reneging an offer?

  • Absolutely. Industries are small and recruiters are well connected – you could potentially harm your professional reputation resulting in limited opportunities for yourself and fellow Trojans in the future. Your connectSC account will also be disabled for six months.

I have 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, you should not accept the second offer. If you choose to accept the second offer, there will be negative consequences, including damaging the opportunities for other Trojans with the first organization.

I have accepted an offer. What should I do next?

  • Inform the Employer Relations and Research team at recruit@usc.edu.
  • Remove yourself from the internship/job search.
  • Politely decline all remaining offers by notifying the recruiters.
  • Cancel all remaining interviews.

How do I turn down an offer?

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

Example:  Declining Offer Letter

May 1, 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 have 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.

Sincerely,

Tiffany Traveler

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