Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Offer Letter 101

Now that quite a few people have gone through their first set of interviews and maybe even second sets of interviews, it time to start talking about offer letters. There's no better feeling (professoinally that is) than getting an e-mail or letter from the company you've wanted to work with forever saying "Dear ____, We are pleased to inform you that you have been offered a position with our company as a _____ making $XX,XXX/year at _____ location." After the big 'ol smiles wear off and you start to realize that you are actually going to have to decide on what to do with the rest of your life, it's a good idea to use a strategy for figuring out which offer to take.

The Mathematical Approach

The first critical approach you can utilize to figure out which job offer you'd like to take uses a decision matrix. The first thing to do with this approach is to figure out 5-10 meaningful factors to you that will determine whether or not you take a job. These could include location, compensation, opportunities to relocate or travel, advancement opportunities, actual job description, and opportunitites to earn advanced degrees or receive additional training. Once you've put this list together, rank each factor. After you've done that, go through each job description and rank how well it stacks up in each category. Then go through each description and multiply your ranking for how important a factor was by your rank of how that job offer stacks up. The last step is to add up all the totals for each company. Theoretically, if you gave the most important/appealing rankings the highest scores, the offer with the highest sum will be your leading job offer. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

The Gut Approach

The next approach to figuring out which offer will be the right one is going with your gut. When it comes down it to, money and ego do not matter that much. Go with the offer that you think you'll be the happiest in. Sometimes there's more to life than being able to bring in the bacon (and a whole lot of it).

Oink Oink.

Ask Around

One good thing to do when you're trying to figure out which job offer to take is to ask around. Talk to people who have worked with the companies you are looking at and ask them questions about how they like their jobs and the company in general. It's important to take a bit of caution when talking to others about your job choices because in some cases what they think you should do has nothing to do with what is best for you. Take your peers' advice with a grain of salt in some cases knowing that when push comes to shove, this is your life.

Making the Final Decision

When you finally figure out which offer you would like to accept, it is important that you do several things.

  • Mail your letter of acceptance and any additional paperwork required by your company.
  • Send letters of decline and/or call the recruiter/HR representative you worked with during the interview process to inform them that you have chosen to decline their job offer.
  • Send "Thank You" notes to any recruiters, HR representatives, or employees who assisted you with the interview process.
  • Make sure to review your prospective company's benefits packages. Things like medical, dental, and vision insurance are VERY important!
Things to Avoid

When dealing with job offers there are some things that everyone should avoid. While negotiation is appropriate in some cases, getting all crazy with it should really be avoided. If you feel like a company is totally low-balling you, talk with career advisors to determine appropriate starting salaries for certain skill levels and geographic locations. Another thing to avoid while dealing with offers is overstepping your bounds by being rude or arrogant. Even though a company may be willing to offer you a job, that doesn't mean you have the right to boss them around and demand completely ridiculous conditions. Always be respectful of everyone and anyone who takes time out their busy day to lend you a hand!

That's about it for now. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to send them to

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

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