Receiving an offer of employment is an exciting time, especially if one of your target companies has made the offer.  If you receive a competitive offer from one of your target companies, your decision to accept the offer will likely be easy.  However, sometimes the decision is not straightforward.  You may receive multiple offers and need to analyze and compare the salary and benefit packages.  You will likely need to consider various qualitative factors, such as location, type of work, etc.  You may receive an offer from a company that you really want to work for, but they may have undervalued some of your skills and you will need to negotiate for a better offer.

Receiving the Offer

There are usually two major communication steps in the job offer process; the verbal offer and the written offer.  Your supervisor or Human Resources (HR) contact will call and offer you the job verbally over the phone.  Show your excitement for the offer and express your gratitude, but do not accept the job offer during the phone call (even if it is your dream job).  Your acceptance of the job will come during the written offer stage.  Thanking them does not imply that you are taking the job.  Usually the caller will confirm your contact information so the company can send you the written offer.  The written offer usually includes: job title, salary, start date, supervisor’s name, a benefits package, and a deadline for responding.  There is still time to ask questions and investigate this job and potentially weigh it against other offers that you have received.

Evaluating the Offer

You’ve received an offer, and now you need to understand the offer’s value.  There are many quantitative and qualitative factors that will influence your decision.  You will need to evaluate the salary and benefits package, the type of work, team environments, and corporate culture.  You may also have personal considerations such as distance from family, weather preferences, and recreational opportunities.

Take your time considering an offer and ask for more time if needed.  Do not accept a position until you are ready to commit to it and turn down all subsequent offers.

Negotiate if Needed

If you have evaluated a written offer and think that it does not reflect fair market value for your skills and experience, then you should consider negotiating for a better salary or other benefits.  A high percentage of entry-level offers are not negotiated because companies spend time analyzing the market value of entry-level engineers and try to offer competitive packages.  Remember, they want to be competitive and fair in the offer because 1) they want you to accept the offer and 2) they want you to join their team knowing you have been treated fairly.  Many of the larger companies use an algorithm that uses your GPA, work experience and other factors to determine your starting salary.  This is another reason to keep your grades up and complete an internship or two.

However, sometimes employers make mistakes or make offers they believe are fair but are low.  If a higher offer will affect your employment decision or your feelings about being treated fairly, then you should definitely ask the employer to consider increasing the offer.  The employer will welcome the opportunity to discuss the offer and address any issues that may negatively affect your decision as long as you have a rational explanation for requesting the adjustment.