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Congratulations on receiving a job offer! You are probably feeling both excited and relieved. After the initial excitement, you may wonder whether this is the right position to accept. How do you decide what is right in an offer? This section will help you identify your personal, professional, and practical needs, as well as evaluate how well the job(s) you’ve been offered will meet those needs.

First, you must determine what work and life values are most important to you. If you neglect this step, accepting/declining a job offer becomes a much more confusing decision. Identifying your values will help you avoid a future conflict between your job and your needs. Review the following lists for examples of values and reflect on which are most important to you. 

Lifestyle Values

  • Living close to family
  • Time with family and friends
  • Time for and proximity to recreational and cultural activities
  • Travel within job
  • Telecommuting possibilities
  • Opportunities in finding a significant other
  • Your significant other’s career
  • Making new friends

Geographic Location

  • Cost of living
  • Taxes
  • Relocation information
  • Appeal of city or town
  • Climate
  • Commuting time

Benefits

  • Relocation expenses
  • Tuition assistance
  • Vacation/Leave time
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Commitment to diversity
  • Signing bonuses (separate from the salary and benefits package)
  • Health insurance
  • 401K plans/retirement benefits
  • Domestic partner benefits
  • Stock options
  • Flex-pay
  • Childcare/Eldercare

Culture & Values

Now that you have a better idea of what you value, research the company to find how closely your values match. Check out the company’s website, speak with current employees, and utilize your industry contacts. You will most likely not be able to find information on all the following aspects, but they can give you some idea of what information to seek out.

Where to find Culture & Value Examples

  • Vision/philosophy of the organization
  • Mission of the department
  • Degree of working in teams and with new people
  • Size of the organization
  • Flexible vs. fixed work hours
  • Variety and creativity in work
  • Learning potential and opportunity for advancement
  • Independence/autonomy in work
  • Level of pressure/responsibility on the job
  • Incentives to retain employees
  • Company infrastructure and atmosphere
  • Rewards and benefits
  • Growth potential of your job and salary
  • Diversity in the organization
  • Opportunity for mentorship

Review the history of the organization and think about the following:

  • How much do you value the products or services?
  • What is the business culture, business strategy, reputation/image within the company, and how are they viewed in the global marketplace?
  • Is the company expanding or is it in the midst of being merged with or acquired by another company?
  • What are the financial and profitability issues?
  • Has the growth potential affected its profitability? How will this affect you, the position, department, products, and markets?
  • Who are the local, national, and global competitors of the organization? Why is this important?
  • What is the management team like? This will give you an idea of how decisions are made and who influences those decisions. Is it a flat, matrix, or hierarchical group structure?

The answers to the points above will depend on industry (e.g. non-profit vs. government vs. for-profit businesses).

Asking for more time

As a job seeker, you are well within your rights to ask for more time if, for example, you have competing offers or are simply unsure of whether or not to accept the opportunity. While these are legitimate issues, you need to realize that the longer you take to decide on an offer, the more companies will pressure you to come to a decision. They are concerned that the probability of receiving an acceptance from you will decrease as time passes. Also, if you are not accepting the offer, they need to make an offer to someone else. Listed below are some ideas to present to employers if you find yourself in this situation.

If you have other offers

Explain that you have other offers to consider. While their opportunity is extremely interesting, you need to evaluate the others as well. State that by going through this process, you will firmly know which company will best meet your needs and interests and where you can make the most contributions.

If you do not have other offers but are unsure about the offer

Explain that you need time to explore other opportunities, for the reason stated above.

The company representative will either accept or not accept your proposal. If s/he does accept, you will probably be asked to state a specific date by which you will respond. Keep this promise. If you are still unable to determine if you want that offer by this date, you need to be aware that the representative may decide to look at other candidates.

If your proposal is not accepted, you will need to be prepared to make a decision on whether or not to accept the offer on the company’s timetable.


Accepting an offer

Try not to accept an offer until you have fully evaluated the situation. If you are unsure, please make an appointment with a career counselor.

Once you have accepted an offer, you have made a commitment and should withdraw your application from any other companies. This enables them to extend an offer to another qualified candidate. If you are participating in OGI, you have signed the Student Agreement Form that states your responsibilities to the University throughout the OGI process. To renege on a commitment is considered unethical and unprofessional. If you find yourself in a quandary, stop by UVA Career Center and consult with one of the counselors.

Confirm your acceptance by phone, email, or in a letter to the company. Reiterate the details of the offer, including your salary, starting date, title, and any pertinent details you have negotiated. Send thank you letters to your references in appreciation for their recommendations.

Contact the Career Center regarding offers and acceptance. Records of students' employment offer us, and other students, valuable data.

Acceptance Letters: What should you include?

  • Thank the company for the offer.
  • Accept the position.
  • Restate the terms of your contract. These may include salary, benefits and location, among others.
  • Restate any instructions given to you by the company. These might include your start date or the hours you will be working.
  • Express your excitement to join the company.

Declining an offer & Withdrawing from the applicant pool

When you decline an offer, don't “burn those bridges.” Thank the employer and state that, after careful consideration, you have decided to accept another offer. The companies you turn down now may be networking opportunities for you in the future.

Rejection Letters: How should you turn down an offer?

  • Thank the company for the offer.
  • Be polite, but firmly reject the offer.
  • Give reasons why you turned the offer down. Doing this will improve the experience for future applicants.

Leave the door open in case you wish to apply for another position at the company in the future.