Job Offers and Careers After College

By Staff Writers

Published on September 21, 2021

Job Offers and Careers After College

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College prepares you for a career, but it doesn't always teach you how to find a job. For many graduates, excitement can quickly lead to nervousness about finding a job. With a strong education and the right outlook, you should find yourself considering job offers soon after you graduate.

Picking the right career out of college can significantly affect your professional life. It might be tempting to accept the first job offer you receive, but it pays to carefully consider every offer. This page provides a guide to job offers after college, including what to consider and how to accept or decline an offer.

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College graduates can pursue many paths to find a career. Job fairs, online job boards, and school connections can help you identify job opportunities. After you apply for a job, a company may invite you for an interview. If the interview goes well, you may receive a job offer.

Many employers only allow 24 hours to respond to their offer. Before deciding, create a pros and cons list. You should also consider the questions below.

Questions to Ask While Evaluating a Job Offer

Is the Salary and Benefits Package for the Position Competitive?
Salary and benefits will likely rank among your top concerns. Before applying to jobs, research average salary levels using sites such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and PayScale. Also consider the employer's benefits, such as health insurance, pension, paid time off, and bonuses.
Are Moving Expenses Covered In the Benefits Package?
Relocating to a new city can create many expenses. Some jobs may reimburse you for some or all of your moving expenses. When considering an offer, inquire whether a company covers moving expenses in its benefits package.
Is Incentive Compensation Offered?
Many companies maintain incentive compensation programs that reward high performers with salary increases and other bonuses. These programs incentivize workers to perform at a higher level, often tying advancement to productivity measures. If competition motivates you, incentive compensation can create a more productive work environment.
Will the Position's Demands Align With My Lifestyle?
Different companies make different demands of their employees. More rigorous jobs may require long hours and weekend work. Conversely, some positions may adhere to a strict 9-5 schedule. When reviewing a job offer, always consider the company culture and how it aligns with your preferences.
Is Giving Back a Priority at the Company?
Many companies prioritize social outreach, charitable donations, and other forms of community involvement. Before accepting a job offer, ask about an organization's charitable practices. You'll likely enjoy working at a company whose community activities align with your values.
Is There Collaboration at the Organization?
Collaboration among employees, department heads, and other organization members is crucial. When considering job offers, always research and ask questions about a company's sense of collaboration. An organization where employees don't communicate or work together effectively may not meet your professional needs.
Is There a Path to Advancement Within the Company?
Evaluating job offers also means evaluating your potential for advancement. When interviewing with companies, ask questions about employee mobility and advancement. A company that's unclear about advancement potential may not offer the best chance at career mobility.
Does the Company Encourage Educational Advancement?
Many companies develop their workforces through continuing education and other professional development initiatives. Some organizations pay for their employees to earn certifications or advanced degrees. If you want to pursue additional education, inquire about an employer's stance on continuing education.

Career Terms to Know Before Accepting a Job

Base Salary

Base salary refers to how much your employer pays you to do your job. The base salary rate doesn't include bonus or benefits.

Bonus

A bonus refers to any payments your employer makes beyond your base salary. Companies may offer bonuses to reward exceptional performance or boost morale.

Benefits

Benefits include additional perks such as retirement plans, paid time off, and health insurance. You may choose from different benefits packages when you begin a job.

Paid Time Off

Paid time off refers to compensation provided for vacation days, sick days, holidays, and other personal time off. Some companies may also offer paid time off for maternity or paternity leave.

Employment Contract

An employment contract outlines the working relationship between you and your employer. It typically includes details such as salary, benefits, duties, and work schedule.

401(k) Plan

One of the most common retirement plans, a 401(k) enables workers to contribute part of each paycheck to their retirement account. Employers often match employee contributions up to a certain level.

W-4

This tax form tells your employers how much to withhold from your paycheck based on factors such as marital status and number of dependents.

FSA or HSA Plan

A flexible spending account (FSA) and a health savings account (HSA) enable you to put aside money for medical expenses such as copay, monthly prescription costs, and deductibles.

Tuition Assistance

Many employers offer tuition assistance to help employees return to school. This enables employees to develop professional skills and employers to develop their workforce.

Stock Grants, Stock Options, and Profit Sharing

Stock grants and options give employees the right to buy shares of their company's stock at a specified price. Profit sharing gives employees a percentage of profits based on earnings.

Trial/Probationary Period

Probationary employment periods serve as a trial run for employment. During a probationary period, a company can assess a new employee's performance over a set duration of time before deciding whether to hire them permanently.

Overtime

Overtime refers to any time worked beyond 40 hours each week. Employees must receive at least time and a half for overtime hours.

Travel Premiums

Companies often reimburse employees for work-related travel expenses. Employers should also pay employees for hours worked on business trips, including overtime.

Company Culture

Company culture refers to the shared values and characteristics that define a company's identity. Culture may encompass leadership style, work environment, and communication style.

Non-Disclosure Agreement

Some companies may require you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This legal document prevents you from revealing any sensitive information you may learn through working with the company.

Accepting or Declining an Offer


Whether you're accepting or declining a job offer, you should always maintain a courteous and professional attitude. A company you reject may later become a professional contact. This list highlights strategies for declining or accepting a job offer, including the best ways to communicate with employers.

Accepting a Job Offer

Thank the Employer
Always thank your new employer and express your gratitude for the opportunity. Even if you receive an offer on the phone, you should send a written job acceptance letter. This letter demonstrates a sense of professionalism and shows the employer your seriousness about the job.
Get It in Writing
After accepting a job offer, you should always get written confirmation of your offer and its benefits. Don't hesitate to ask the company for a copy of your employment contract and an explanation of benefits. Getting your job offer in writing eliminates any potential for misunderstanding.
Negotiate, If Necessary
Even if you receive a great offer, you can always negotiate your employment terms. While you shouldn't make demands, you can ask the company about potential increases to salary or benefits. If you have other job offers, you may be able to use them to receive a better offer from your preferred company.
Ask About Next Steps
After accepting a job offer in writing, determine when the job starts and if the company needs any additional information. Confirming next steps also prevents miscommunication and shows your dedication to your new position.

Declining a Job Offer

Answer in a Timely Manner
When declining a job offer, always respond promptly. When you know you won't take the position, you should inform the company. Ignoring an employer's communications about a job offer makes you look unprofessional.
Thank the Employer
Even when declining a job offer, you should always thank the employer for their time and consideration. Try to send a brief email or make a phone call politely declining the offer. Respectfully declining an offer helps you maintain a strong professional reputation.
Explain Your Decision Briefly
When you thank the employer for their consideration, you can also briefly explain your decision to reject the offer. Be polite and don't go into too much detail. In general, it's best to simply state that the job wasn't the right fit.

Negotiating a Job Offer and Salary

Expert Advice

Dana Manciagli worked for more than 30 years as a tech executive. She's now a blogger and job-search expert who offers online classes on finding a job. Manciagli wrote "Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era." We asked her for some expert insight.

Q. What Criteria Should People Use To Evaluate Whether a Job Offer Is Good for Them?

A job offer's attractiveness depends on an individual's needs at the time. Job-seekers should know their needs before completing the interview process and receiving the offer. Break down the offer before reacting to it. List the salary and calculate the bonus if one exists. Examine health coverage details. Re-read the job description. Consider commute time, new skills you will learn, and the quality of your colleagues.

Q. Should People Negotiate With Potential Employers for Better Compensation, or Do They Run the Risk of Losing the Offer?

I recommend everybody negotiate. If you don't ask, you'll never know. In my 30 years of hiring and negotiating my own offers, I have never had an offer repealed due to a negotiation. However, if a candidate is rude, overly demanding, or disrespectful, the company can repeal the offer.

Q. What Strategies Can Prospective Employees Use To Negotiate a Better Job Offer?

Begin your negotiations being respectful and grateful for the offer. Remain professional instead of emotional. Try to negotiate with your hiring manager and not the recruiter or other intermediary. The hiring manager has the budget and is the ultimate decision-maker. They already want you on their team, so they are motivated to assure you are satisfied.

Email your negotiation specifics prior to discussions. Keep it brief, but clear. Itemize every request, include a target for a satisfactory solution, and provide the justification for the request.

Additional Resources

Glossary of Compensation Terms

The BLS offers this guide to employee compensation terms. While useful for human resource managers and other supervisors, the list can also help workers of all types understand common employment vocabulary.

How to Choose Between Two Jobs

Monster hosts this guide to choosing between competing job offers. The article outlines factors to consider when selecting between careers. Common considerations include salary, sign-on bonus, and growth opportunities.

How to Decline a Job Offer

Indeed offers this practical guide to declining a job offer with grace and professionalism. This article contains tips on how to reject an offer and written examples of appropriate rejection emails.

How to Accept a Job Offer

Accepting a job offer may seem simple, but the process can still present complications. Monster offers this guide to accepting desirable job offers, including strategies for negotiating.

How Job-Seekers Can Evaluate Organizational Culture

This guide offers tips on how to recognize and assess a company's culture. Common factors to consider include job satisfaction, work-life balance, leadership style, and collaboration and productivity.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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