Evaluating a job offer

Congratulations on your job offer! If you have a verbal offer following an interview ensure that you ask for it in writing as soon as possible.

There are several key points to consider;

What should a job offer include?

How to evaluate the offer

How to respond to a job offer

What should a job offer include?

A formal offer of employment will be in writing and will outline the terms and conditions of the offer and details of the job.  The letter should be signed by an employee of the organisation who has the authority to make an offer. This is often the human resources manager. The offer should include:

  • Your name and the name of the employer
  • Job title or brief job description
  • Salary and when it is paid
  • Hours of work
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Any added or fringe benefits such as private healthcare or an interest-free travel loan
  • Place of work and/or if you are required to work in more than one location
  • Start date

The job offer might also include other details such as:

  • The company rules (often in an employee handbook)
  • Details of future salary reviews
  • Pension fund information
  • Notice required to terminate the employment contract

It may contain conditional clauses, such as that the offer is conditional on you:

  • Obtaining your degree/HND
  • Obtaining at least a second class honours degree
  • Passing a company medical examination
  • Accepting the offer before a certain date
  • Completing a satisfactory six month probationary period

Before you decide to accept the job, get clarification of anything you do not understand or that you feel has been left out of the offer.

Accepting the offer

If you decide to accept the job, send a written acceptance and keep a copy of your letter with the original job offer in case you need to refer back to it at a later date.

How to evaluate the offer

This list of questions should help you clarify what you need to know before you decide to accept a job and, if you are in a dilemma, to sort out what factors are really important to you. You will probably have other questions of your own too.

The job

  • What will I be doing?
  • What responsibilities will I have, and how early will I assume them?
  • What deadlines will I be working to?
  • What pressures will I be working under?
  • What intellectual demands will the job make upon me?
  • What physical demands?
  • What skills/abilities /knowledge will I use?
  • What values do I hold which may conflict with the job?
  • Do the answers to these questions match up to my expectations of the job?

The organisation

  • How big is the organisation?
  • How stable, profitable or successful?
  • Is it expanding or contracting?
  • Would I like to be associated with its products/services/values/ethos?
  • Is it a rigid organisation where job descriptions and status are
    clearly defined or is it a more fluid company where jobs change and develop in relation to demand?
  • Could I work within the structure of the organisation?

Working conditions

  • What hours will I be expected to work?
  • What is my holiday entitlement?
  • Is there a union I can join?
  • Will the work involve unsocial hours or shift work?
  • Will the work involve travel and, if so, who pays for it?
  • Can I meet the conditions?
  • Am I happy to accept the conditions?

Salary

  • What is the basic salary and what is ‘on target earnings’ (OTE)?
  • How much will I be paid after deductions?
  • Do I get paid extra for working overtime or shift work?
  • How is salary progression achieved: by merit, service or both?
  • When will my salary first be reviewed, how often after that and on what basis?
  • Are there any fringe benefits, subsistence allowances? How much can they be valued at?
  • What will I earn in a few years’ time?
  • Do all the factors associated with salary match my minimum requirements?

Location

  • Where is the job located?
  • Where will I be able to live?
  • How much will it cost to live there and travel to and from work?
  • Are there any personal reasons which would make living there difficult?
  • Would I need to move for promotion?
  • Will I be happy to live and work in that area?

Training

  • How long does the training last?
  • How flexible is the training programme?
  • Will further study be required? If so, who pays the fees and will I be allowed paid study leave?
  • Will the training and study lead to professional qualifications?
  • Will I be encouraged in my continued professional development (CPD)?
  • Do I feel that the training which will be offered gives the experience and qualifications I am seeking?

Prospects

  • Will my prospects depend on getting professional qualifications?
  • Does the job have prospects for broader development as well as specialisation?
  • Will the skills I develop here be applicable to other work?
  • Will I be promoted to a more responsible position on merit?
  • How will the job develop?
  • Do the prospects associated with the job meet my career expectations?

How to respond to the job offer

You should, quite rightly, be pleased with getting a job offer. Try to respond as soon as possible thanking the organisation for the offer and indicating that you will be giving your decision in writing within the next week. Stalling for time can be very difficult, and an offer can be withdrawn at any time before it is accepted.

It is important that you realistically evaluate the implications of accepting it (or declining it). This is especially important if you are in the fortunate position of having several offers to choose between or are waiting to hear back from other interviews.

Work through the list of questions above in order to help you make your decision.

Do not accept the offer on the basis that you can change your mind and decline it later. This can reflect badly on you, your course and the university. It is also unfair to other applicants and to the employer, and it may jeopardise your chances of working there in the future.

Bear in mind that we are usually not talking about a job for life. It is important, that any job you take offers you most of what you are seeking and/or can give you the appropriate skills and experience to take your career forward in the direction you have chosen.

If in doubt discuss the matter with a careers counsellor.

Getting advice

If you need advice on the job offer, speak to one of our careers counsellors.