Professionalism & Responses to Employment Offers
General Guidance for Handling Offers
If you are one of the lucky recipients of multiple offers, good for you! As exciting as it can be to have options, it can also be difficult to “break up” with employers. Here is some general guidance on how to handle acceptances and declines.
NOTE: If you haven’t gotten a call yet, don’t sweat it! You may be fielding offer communications at any point in the coming months, especially if you have some SLPs on the calendar. Make plans to participate in the Resume Round-Up, unless you have an offer for your dream internship before the summer.
BEFORE making any decisions:
- Create a pro/con list for the employers you have interacted with significantly. Speak to your parents or other mentors in your life to get their opinion; sometimes “outsiders” can offer a very honest perspective after considering the facts. Remember that your decision should not reflect a snapshot in time, but rather your feelings about an employer throughout the recruitment process. Consider all touch points you’ve had while making your pro/con list.
- Do not feel obligated to respond to an offer immediately (unless you’re 100% sure it’s “the one”). If you think you may receive multiple offers, you should wait to see what is on the table before making a final decision. It’s totally appropriate to say (with appreciation & enthusiasm), “Thank you for the offer! I am going to take some time to consider my options and will get back to you.” Employers will provide you with a deadline by which they need to know your decision.
- The AU Recruiting Honor Code and current recruiting environment will yield varying deadlines, in which case it’s appropriate to negotiate an extension with the employer if necessary.
- Understand that compensation in the public accounting world is typically fixed by firm, and there is no room for negotiation for campus hires. Corporate roles might have a little more flexibility. If you are unsure of whether the salary you’re offered is the “market rate,” feel free to ask me, as we track salaries for multiple markets.
- If you have committed to attend SLPs (virtual or live), you should resolve to honor those commitments before making your decision. There is no reason you should feel pressure to make your decision before exploring all opportunities; not to mention, it’s in poor taste to rescind an acceptance of such an invitation (i.e. bridge-burning). Seek the advice of Mrs. Lakas if you encounter dilemmas in this area. Even if the SLP you’ll attend is virtual, you never know what beneficial information might come from attending!
If you are DECLINING an offer:
- Always opt for a phone call over email, if you can help it. We harp on not “burning bridges,” and a personal conversation is the best way to maintain your relationship. Although these calls can be awkward, they don’t last very long and the employers know that declines are as much a part of the recruiting game as acceptances.
- If you’re slowly narrowing your list, you should decline employers as you make the decision that they’re not for you. They may be holding a spot for you that could be given to another deserving individual, so you don’t want to be the roadblock between a student who loves that employer and an offer.
- Before you make the call, consider your main reason for not accepting the offer. The person you speak to may ask for feedback on why you’re not going to work there, so be prepared to answer that question. Did you not meet very many people from that office, or just make stronger relationships with a different employer?
- Make your decline phone calls first, for a couple of reasons. One, the world of public accounting is small, and it would be bad for an employer you’re declining to find out through the grapevine that you’ve accepted another employer’s offer before you have the chance to tell them yourself. Also, it’s best to get the uncomfortable phone calls out of the way, so you can truly be excited about your acceptance call (and not dreading the decline phone calls that follow).
- Call the person who extended the offer, or the recruiter, if you felt closer to them in the process (or both, if you can). Indicate that you appreciate their time spent on you during the recruitment process, and provide a compliment to their efforts (if you have one). You then say that you have chosen to accept another offer, and are thus declining theirs. You may get the question about where you’re accepting (and it’s ok to tell them), and they may also ask for feedback (see above). Keep the call short, but try to leave things on a good note. Wish them luck with the rest of the recruiting season, or say that you enjoyed meeting them and would love to stay in touch for opportunities down the road.
If you are ACCEPTING an offer:
- Do you have a written offer in hand? We trust our employer group for their word, but it’s most comforting to have their commitment to you in writing before deciding to accept.
- Call the person who extended the offer to you, and indicate that you plan to accept it. Tell him/her the things that led you to decide that employer was the one for you, and convey your excitement! Ask if there are any important next steps you need to take to be prepared to start with that employer. Make sure that you follow through with executing the offer letter (whether it requires an electronic or hand-written signature) immediately after ending the call.
- Email or call those individuals who didn’t extend the offer, but you felt were influential to your decision. They want to hear your good news as well!
- CELEBRATE the culmination of your hard work!