Some of our final years are getting in touch with us regarding how to handle job offers. First of all, congratulations and well done! This can be an exciting time, but we also understand that the job offer process can be challenging and stressful. Below we have advice taken from our Job Offers and Contracts resource and an earlier blog post. If you have any questions, remember you can always reach out to us for support!
Accepting an offer
It is important to check whether your offer is conditional or unconditional (the former tends to be the more likely scenario). Some common conditions placed on offers of employment are that your references must be satisfactory, some roles may require a disclosure and barring (DBS) check and the offer may be subject to you completing your degree or achieving a minimum degree classification.
If you aren't eligible to work in the UK you will need to obtain a visa to stay and work after your studies and the offer may be withdrawn if permission to work isn't granted by the Home Office.
It is important to make sure:
- You receive a formal contract: this should contain details of your job, salary, benefits such as annual leave, hours of work and start date.
- You consider the start date and go back and negotiate this or other benefits with the employer if you need to.
- You have considered any adjustments you may need to enable you to work. Have a look at our reasonable adjustments checklist and also consider whether you wish to disclose any disabilities or health conditions at this point. You can find more information in our Get Started guide that focuses on disability.
- You are aware of any 'golden handcuffs' - also known as golden hellos! This is where an employer offers a substantial one-off payment to a keenly sought recruit. However, these one-off payments come with ties - some companies expect you to commit to a certain length of service where as others require you to pay back the golden hello if you leave within a certain time.
- You are aware of the notice period that the employer must give to you to terminate the contract, and the notice period you must give if you want to leave. You are aware of any clauses allowing the employer to require you either (i) to leave as soon as any notice is given (pay in lieu of notice, or PILON) or (ii) not to attend your workplace during the notice period (garden leave), where you remain an employee but are not required to carry out work for your employer and are unable to start work with another employer before expiry of your notice period.
Once you are happy that everything is in place then accept the job in writing (email is fine!). However, be aware that your acceptance of a job is binding (this can be verbal or in writing). You don't need to rush into accepting a job offer if you have reservations of any kind, but some employers may expect you to respond within a particular time frame. Remember, if in doubt, talk through your options with a Careers Adviser.
Declining an offer
If, after serious thought, you decide that the job is not for you, write back thanking the organisation for the offer and politely decline it. The world of work is a small place and you might find you are applying to that organisation again at a later date, so it is worth remaining on good terms. You can decline the offer either by calling the organisation, by emailing or writing. It is important not to waste their time and respond quickly!
Please note: students wishing to decline an offer of a placement MUST contact their placement office as there is an ‘accept first placement policy’ in place.
When things are complicated...
I'm quite interested in the job, but I'd really prefer another one.
It is not a good idea to contract yourself to one employer as a ‘back up’ when you’re still pursuing a preferred employer. When you do get an offer, and you are not sure of accepting, don’t panic or allow yourself to be rushed into an instant decision. There is no legislation about how long an employer needs to give you to decide, but we would expect employers to 'refrain from setting unreasonably short deadlines for the acceptance of offers'. Of course, that’s subjective, it will depend on where they are in their recruitment cycle, when the job starts and you need to be reasonable and consider their business needs.
Contact the employer to thank them for the offer, to let them know that you are considering it and to agree when you will let them know. If the offer gives a deadline which you feel you cannot meet, you can often negotiate an extension. If you are hesitating because of another ongoing application, you could approach your other potential employer(s) and they may be able to accelerate their selection process. The worst thing to do if you’re juggling options is to avoid talking to the recruiters, they’ll appreciate being kept informed.
You want more money.
It is important to research the market before entering any negotiations. You may want to look at starting salaries of graduates in a similar field. Have a look at our salary negotiation resource for more advice. Don't make your decision purely on money, consider the whole package: training, annual leave, fit with your values and the scope for development.
Rejecting an offer after you have accepted it.
If you do have second thoughts after accepting an offer you could ask the employer if they will agree to terminate the contract. If they won’t then you need to give at least the amount of notice on your contract or offer letter, otherwise it is possible that the employer may sue you for breach of contract. Even if this doesn't happen, breach of contract doesn’t make a good impression on your recruiters, and we advise you to consider what consequences this may have for your future career. Another student may have missed out too, particularly if you change your mind late in the recruitment cycle. So try to avoid getting yourself into that situation.
It may help to talk to a careers adviser for an objective chat regarding pros and cons and consequences of your decision (although we cant give you legal advice / discuss your contract).
For more information and advice, have a look at our leaflet on Job Offers and Contracts.