Receiving a job offer is exciting! You may be tempted to accept right away, but give yourself time to evaluate the offer before making a decision. The resources below will assist you in making informed decisions when evaluating, negotiating, and responding to offers.
Evaluating An Offer
Use the Career Related Decision Making Workbook to evaluate your offer and determine if it is the best fit for you. When evaluating an offer, or choosing between offers, consider not only the salary and benefits, but factors that will impact your job satisfaction.
day-to-day job responsibilities; advancement opportunities; professional development/training opportunities; geographic location; company culture and environment; alignment of your values and goals with the organization's mission, vision, values, ethics, and expectations
base pay; sign-on bonus; relocation assistance; performance-based bonuses; insurances (health, dental, vision); vacation time; sick/personal leave; retirement savings plan; stock options; continuing education; student loan forgiveness; flextime (this is not an exhaustive list; and not every employer will offer these benefits)
If you have any questions about an employment contract, ask an attorney or trusted advisor to review it before signing. While advisors in the Engineering Career Center are available to assist in the decision-making process regarding job offers, we are not attorneys and do not review employment contracts.
A security clearance is required for internships and jobs where you have access to classified information. These positions are often found within the United States government or entities that work on government contracts. While your potential employer is the best resources for answering questions you have about their security clearance process, the U.S. Department of State and ClearanceJobs.com provide additional information you may find helpful.
Negotiating An Offer
You are not expected to negotiate an offer if you are satisfied with the terms. If you wish to negotiate, however, ensure that you are professional and have prepared for the conversation. Negotiate with facts, not feelings. "I feel I am more qualified than the average student" is not an effective strategy. A more convincing argument is: "I have had three internships in the field and will have a shorter learning curve."
Negotiate salary and other benefits after the employer has officially offered you the position. Do not negotiate over email; schedule a phone call with the employer to discuss the offer. View the Negotiating Offers PowerPoint for additional tips and strategies.
If you choose to negotiate salary, you will need to know what is appropriate for your field and the position. The resources below will help you determine a reasonable salary range.
- Cornell Engineering Post Graduate Reports: provides mean and medium salaries by degree and major.
- ETC Salary Calculator: generates salary data based on degree, university, years of experience, and location.
- Professional Associations: many publish salary surveys, check the organization's website (e.g. AISES, ASME, IEEE, NSBE, SHPE, SWE, etc.)
- Glassdoor.com: search salaries and compensation based on job title or company, and location.
- Payscale.com and salary.com: review salary profiles, and compensation data to see how your offer compares to national statistics.
- Peers/Alumni: consider reaching out to people in your field of interest with whom you have a close relationship to ask (for example) "What is a reasonable salary for a position with these areas of responsibility?" or "I was offered "x." Does this seem reasonable for someone with my experience and qualifications?"
- NerdWallet: cost of living calculator
Responding to An Offer
When you are offered a position, make sure you know the date by which you must respond. If you have upcoming interviews scheduled, or need more time to consider the offer, call or email the employer as soon as possible to ask for a deadline extension. Not all employers are willing to grant extensions, but many try to be accommodating.
Cornell Career Services has suggested timelines for responding to offers for both summer internships and full-time opportunities. View the dates, and acceptance offer policies on their website.
Corresponding with Employers
How you communicate with employers will leave an impression, make it a good one! Before reaching out to an employer to request a deadline extension, negotiate an offer, or accept/decline an offer, review our Professional Correspondence guidelines. While we include sample text, your outreach should sound like you, so personalize your message, don't just copy and paste.
The Impact of Reneging on a Job Offer
Accepting a job offer and then continuing to apply for positions may seem like a "safe" option, but the University strongly discourages it. Once you accept a position you have made a commitment to the employer and it's implied that you have concluded your job search. How you handle such decisions is a reflection of your values, priorities, and ethical/professional conduct. Moreover, there are repercussions for reneging on a job offer. See Cornell Career Services Polices for more details. If you have questions or concerns about an offer, stop by to speak with advisor during drop-in hours before accepting an offer.