Q: I've been offered Job A, but I'm still waiting to hear about Job B, which I think I might prefer. What should I do?
It's certainly very difficult to make a sound decision if you don't have all the necessary information, so try to buy yourself some time.
Honesty is the best policy here.
Contact Employer A and explain that while you're very pleased to have been offered the job, you're actually still waiting to hear from some more organisations and would appreciate a little more time before you can decide whether or not you're ready to commit.
Be upfront about your internal struggles about this decision. Employers are human too, and chances are they will be able to relate to your dilemma. There's no need to name who Employer B is.
If you're a strong candidate, it stands to reason that other employers would be interested in you. Employer A should not hold this against you.
Remember that you could be held in breach of contract if you accept a job in writing but then decide to turn it down. So under no circumstances should you try to hedge your bets by signing up with Employer A while you're still waiting!
All you'll do is just lose either one or both of those opportunities... or in the worst case, be slapped with a show-cause letter.
Q: Should I negotiate the best possible salary?
For most graduate jobs, the reality of things is that you are given a set salary and will have very little choice in the matter. Whether you choose to question that amount is your choice, but if you do, it will require a lot of diplomacy.
Make sure what you ask for is both reasonable and justifiable. Approach your network of contacts for advice, and find out what you can about the range of salaries on offer from your prospective employer.
Be prepared to explain why you should be placed at the upper end of the pay bracket for your role instead of what you have been initially offered.
Also, think about what you are prepared to accept. Remuneration is often more than just a paycheck. There may be other benefits such as bonuses, flexible working hours, commissions, pension plans, life policies, or generous annual leave entitlements.
Be sure to consider the whole package before you decide whether or not to bring the matter up.
Q: Help! I've been put "on hold"! What do I do now?
In tough economic climates, or in cases where an employer just happens to be torn between an unusually large number of attractive candidates, it may be tough for recruiters to confirm the final number of open positions they have to offer.
This is where being "put on hold" comes in – recruiters need time to decide and to get their bosses' input on the matter.
If you find yourself put "on hold", there are two things you should do:
- Keep in touch with the recruiter to let them know you are interested while you wait for their response.
- Keep applying for other jobs and attending interviews. It is dangerous to make assumptions that you will be the lucky one and get the job – you may miss the cut.
Still, here's a small consolation if an employer puts you "on hold" – it's because they think that you're an incredibly desirable candidate, and aren't keen on letting you slip away!
Keep that assurance in mind as you continue to apply for more positions.
Q: It's great that I've gotten the offer, but I don't think I want this particular job anymore. What do I do?
Turning down a job offer is probably almost always an awkward situation. However, the key is not to burn any bridges.
You never know when you may need to call on that company that's offered you the job, whether as a client, a networking contact, or even for future career opportunities!
Be sure to inform recruiters as quickly as possible once you've come to a decision. Whenever possible, don't just fire off a cold, impersonal e-mail informing them that you're turning down the offer.
Call up your recruiters (if you know they have a busy schedule), or even better, drop by the company in person and let them know face-to-face. This shows your sincerity and your appreciation for the time that the company has blocked out to consider and assess you.
Be upfront and honest about your reasons for turning down the offer. Maybe you feel that you're just not a good fit for the company culture, or you realised after the interview that this job is not quite what you were expecting.
Let the company know. Recruiters appreciate such feedback because it helps them do their own jobs better in the long run.
In some cases, they may even discuss ways to restructure the job role to match your expectations or offer you a different position altogether.