When you receive a job offer, you're likely to feel elated and may be tempted to rush into accepting. It is important to evaluate all aspects of the job offer and think objectively about your choices before responding to an offer. Cornell Career Services staff is available to help you as you assess a job offer.
What Are the Considerations?
For most entry-level positions, you should weigh the work itself, the level of responsibility, the opportunity for learning new skills, and advancement opportunities more heavily than the initial starting salary. The Career Guide contains many tips about evaluating the pros and cons of an offer, and you can find a recording of a session we offered on job offers in the Media Library.
What About Negotiating a Salary Package?
You are not "expected" to negotiate a higher salary than is initially offered, but at the same time you should not hesitate to negotiate an offer that is unreasonable. Just make sure that you base your decision on accurate information.
What About Delaying a Response?
You may find that you need more time than an employer initially extends to make a decision on a job offer, especially if you have other employment opportunities pending. When asking for an extension, it is important to provide a specific date by which you will make your decision—and then stick to it.
What's the Best Way to Respond to an Offer?
If you're accepting the offer, you can confirm your acceptance verbally and then follow up with a written confirmation letter of acceptance of salary, start date, and job title. Be sure to express your appreciation and enthusiasm for the opportunity! If there are additional conditions of employment (such as medical exams), indicate when you expect to fulfill those.
If you're declining the offer, inform the recruiter verbally and follow your conversation with a well-written letter of thanks for the opportunity. Without going into excessive detail, explain that you are accepting a position that better matches your current needs. Keep things positive, so that you do not close the door on the possibility of working with that employer in the future.
What Are the Ethical Considerations?
Once you have accepted a job offer, you must terminate all other job-search activity. Notify all other employers that you are no longer available for employment, and cancel any interviews (on campus or off) you might have pending. Acceptance of an offer is a commitment to your future employer. If you are not ready to make that commitment, do not accept the job offer.
Your behavior in such situations is a reflection of your values, priorities, and ethical/professional conduct. In addition, your behavior affects future relationships between the employer and Cornell.