Juggling Job Offers and the Waiting Game

November means fall semester on-campus recruiting starts to wind down. It’s the time of year when many students complete site interviews and, hopefully, begin receiving offers for internships and full-time employment.

With the excitement of receiving an offer (or several) comes the frustration of waiting and the anxiety surrounding a huge decision. A lot of students struggle when confronted with the decision of accepting a job offer or how to communicate with employers when juggling multiple offers. Let’s review the different scenarios and some tips for handling each: 

sb575While you wait to hear from employers…

  • You should have done this already, but if you haven’t, make sure to send a thank you note to all your interviewers and re-state your enthusiasm and qualifications for the position.
  • Follow-up with your company contact if you do not hear back from the employer regarding the next step in their process or the hiring decision within their designated time frame. If you didn’t ask when you should expect to hear something at the close of your interview, a week or two after the interview is usually a reasonable time to follow-up.

Once you have offers…

  • Be sure to reflect on what is most important to you in an internship or full-time job. Make a list of your priorities – for example: location, opportunity for advancement, job responsibilities, pay, company reputation and work environment- and rank them. Use that list to evaluate the companies and offers you receive. Check out this job offer checklist.
  • Evaluate the entire package. Perhaps you are initially disappointed by one company’s seemingly low salary, but maybe that company offers three weeks of vacation instead of two. Maybe it has a better insurance program or offers a housing allowance. Be sure to factor in all benefits and compensation, especially if compensation is ranked high on your list of priorities.
  • Think about where you want to go in the future. Both literally in terms of location, and figuratively in terms of your career. What position will be most helpful in getting you to where you want to go?
  • sb572Review your options with trusted friends, family, mentors and advisors.  Consider their opinions, but be sure to remember that they are just that – opinions – and ultimately, you have to make the best choice for you, not them.

If you have one (or more) offers but you’re still waiting to hear from your dream company…

Usually this scenario is most anxiety-filled: Company A asks for a response to a job offer before the applicant hears from their priority company, Company B.

  • It may be possible to get more time to consider the offer from Company A. Talk to your contact(s) to find out if they can extend the deadline by which they need an answer. Be honest. Let the company know that you want to take some time to ensure that accepting the position would be a good fit for both you and the organization.
  • If you ask for more time, be prepared for Company A to ask for details about other offers you are considering. Be forthcoming. Most companies understand that you are interviewing at more than one organization. Be careful not to overshare, though. They don’t need all the details about how you feel about each company.
  • Be reasonable in the amount of time you request. An additional weekend or 1-2 weeks might be reasonable. An additional 2-3 months is (usually) not.
  • sb155Understand that receiving more time to consider an offer may come with consequences. Some companies will make offers to other students while you wait, reduce your signing bonus or starting salary for each week you continue to evaluate the offer or won’t be able to guarantee the exact location you want to work at within the organization.
  • Recognize more time might not be possible. Sometimes, you are forced to make a decision regarding an offer before you hear back from all the companies you interviewed with. This is life. If this is the case, it is time to think about how much risk you’re willing to take. Declining an offer in the hopes that you’ll receive one from another company carries different levels of risk depending on how many interviews you had and how well they each went; the economy; your industry; how many other qualified applicants the company is considering, etc.

If your school has a strong on-campus recruiting program, it is likely that the career center staff knows those companies well and can give you information about how specific companies have handled offers and deadline extensions in the past. You may also be able to ask for guidance from any contacts you have in the company or industry.

If you aren’t interviewing yet or do not receive offers, November is not the time to panic! Plenty of employers, especially smaller ones, hire as needed and cannot project their hiring needs this far in advance. It’s never too early to begin preparing though, so use Thanksgiving break and your semester break to make sure you are ready!


Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. Kelly received her masters degree in Higher Education/Student Personnel Administration from New York University, and her bachelors degree from UW-Madison, where she majored in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Connect with Kelly on TwitterLinkedIn or BrazenCareerist.

Related posts:

  1. Four Services Your School’s Career Center (Probably) Offers
  2. Know the Rules Before You Play the Game
  3. Declining An Employment Offer

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