10 tips for dealing with a job offer

Our advice to help you get this last stage right

It's a great feeling when an employer tells you that you've got that graduate job, and sorting out the details may seem like just a formality.

But there are still pitfalls to avoid at this stage of the employment process, and opportunities to maximise your chances of workplace success.

Here's how to ensure you make a good impression from the very beginning, and give yourself the best possible start in your new role.

1. Get your offer in writing

If an offer is made to you orally, make sure you're really being offered a job and not just discussing a theoretical possibility.

Then find out when you'll get a letter or email to confirm, and follow up if you don't hear back by the stated time.

2. Make sure you really want it

It can be easy to progress down an application route without thinking deeply about what doing a job would actually be like.

So take a moment at this stage to make sure the role is one you want - it's usually ok to tell your potential employer that you'd like to consider their offer for a while.

3. Stick to the acceptance deadline

Usually a potential employer will need you to confirm you want the job by a certain time or date.

Make sure you stick to this deadline, and if you need more time, let your contact know as soon as possible.

4. Read your contract

It might seem like small print now, but terms such as your annual leave allowance, notice period, and contracted hours might become very significant a few months or years down the line.

So make sure that what you're being offered works for your circumstances and is broadly market standard. You should feel free to ask questions and negotiate if necessary.

5. Get the best possible salary

You know now that the employer wants you to join them, and they may well be so keen for you to do so that they're prepared to pay more than originally offered to make this happen. So if you feel there's a good case for an increased salary, ask if it's an option.

You have absolutely nothing to lose - even if they can't comply, your new employer will admire your confidence and initiative, and may well pencil in a salary review for the not too distant future.

6. Make sure your referees are ready

This point is likely to be the time that your new employer gets in touch with your referees - and your job offer may be conditional on a good report from them.

So remind your referees that they'll be contacted and make sure they have all the information they need to present you in the best possible light.

7. Be flexible

You want to start out on the right foot with your new employer.

So be prepared to be flexible if they ask you to start a little earlier or later than anticipated, go to a different office than the one you were expecting, or have any other requests that you feel are reasonable.

8. Get the key details

We're talking the names of the people you'll be working with, the exact address of the office if you haven't been there already, and if there are any important meetings or deadlines scheduled for your first weeks in the job.

Many graduate jobs start with a period of training - make sure you know whether yours will, and how long it will last.

9. Ask what you can do before starting

Finding out if there's anything you can read or start thinking about before your first day is a great idea for two reasons.

First, you'll be showing your new employer that you're conscientious and full of enthusiasm for your new role. And second, you'll be doing yourself a favour by making those first few days in the office flow a little bit more smoothly.

10. Congratulate yourself!

Having worked your way through the application process and all the steps above, you deserve to sit back and give yourself a pat on the back for achieving your goal.

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