Handling Offers | The Careers Service Handling Offers – Oxford University Careers Service
Oxford logo
What constitutes an offer?

An official offer of employment usually comes in the form of a letter or document inviting you to accept a specific post. It should be signed by someone in authority, eg: a director, manager or senior human resources member of staff. Until you receive something of this kind in writing, it is unlikely that you have been made an offer, so do not make any decisions based on a verbal agreement alone. People sometimes return from an interview feeling that they have been promised a job, only to find themselves disappointed when they are later formally rejected.

A formal written offer should include the following information:

  • Your name, and the name of the employing organisation
  • The date of the offer
  • The job title and department/location
  • Salary
  • Period of notice required for either party to end the contract
  • Your start date (or it may state that this is negotiable)

It may also include:

  • your hours of work
  • your holiday entitlement
  • details about pension schemes, bonuses, salary reviews, company car schemes and other benefits
  • if there is any information you feel you need before accepting the job, contact the organisation as soon as possible. Some organisations will invite you to their premises after making an offer, so that you can have a look around and chat to other employees before making your decision. This could be a good opportunity to clear up any lingering doubts you may have.

For information on employment law, see the UK Government website.

Conditions

It is standard for offers to be conditional and dependent on a number of things.

For Example:

  • Satisfactory references from your nominated referees.
  • A specific classification of degree. If you don’t get the stated grade –  don’t assume that all is lost, contact the recruiter to discuss the situation.
  • Satisfactory completion of a probationary period – the time should be specified.
  • Acceptance by a given date.
Making a decision

A common problem for finalists and graduates can be the timing of offers. The employer of your dreams may be running later than expected in completing their selection process, but you have an offer from another, less preferred organisation. Should you cut your losses and secure the offer you have, or take a risk, turn it down, and wait for the one you really want? If you find yourself in this situation, the following tips may help.

  • It may be helpful to see a careers adviser to discuss the situation and re-examine your options.
  • Do try to think beyond starting salaries and look at the total package being offered. Firm A might offer you a generous joining bonus, but Firm B might offer better training
  • If your preferred employer is slower at responding/making a decision than others, contact them and ask how far they have proceeded with your application and when you are likely to hear of their decision.  You may also wish to let them know that you have another offer ( you don’t have to mention the company’s name) but emphasise that you are still keen on interviewing with them.
  • Contact the employer who has made you the offer, and ask if they are prepared to extend the acceptance date.  If the company insists on your making a decision very quickly, you might ask yourself whether you want to work for an organisation which is pressuring you to make a hasty and ill-informed choice. Remember, however, that you can’t stretch their patience forever – they need to know your decision, so that, if negative, they can offer the position to someone else.
  • Don’t accept an offer that you feel unhappy about. You have successfully secured one offer – you can do it again!
Multiple offers

If you are fortunate enough to have more than one offer and there appears to be little between them, you may need to revisit your original list of needs and reflect these against the current offers in terms of location, company culture, approach to training, how you felt at interview, and so on. It’s probably worth trusting your instincts, but still do some extra research, if it will help you to make a better decision.  Remember, organisations want to hire people who are excited about working for them. If you have any questions and/or concerns you can also speak to the recruiter that you have been communicating with. If you would like advise on how to manage such a conversation, it would be a good idea to speak to a careers adviser.

Think deeply about what you are looking for in a job and assess whether the organisation/role meets your expectations. For example: :

  • What are the responsibilities, pressures and demands, both intellectual and physical, of each job? Does the work that you will be expected to do conflict with your values?
  • What is the team structure? Who will you report to? Will you be given training? What form will the training take? Who pays the training fees (if any)?
  • Will the work style suit you? Speaking with people at the organisation and Oxford alumni on the Oxford Careers Network or contacting them via LinkedIn can be very helpful when analysing this issue.
  • What is the salary? What are the opportunities for promotion and salary increases? Will you have performance reviews and if, so how often? Are there any fringe benefits eg: private healthcare, gym membership?

Remember that if you accept a job and later, once in work, find you have made the wrong decision, all is not lost. Applying for other jobs in the light of this experience and with a greater knowledge of your needs, will usually result in a positive outcome.

Accepting / Declining offers

Accepting an offer

Write to thank the person making you the offer, mentioning any reference number they have given you and enclosing any information that has been requested. You should also mention the date of the letter, and quote the full job title and the starting date, if stated. Don’t forget to say that you wish to accept the offer, and that you are looking forward to starting work with the organisation. Keep a copy of this letter/email, the contract or any other documents you have received as part of the offer. As the word ‘contract’ implies, if you accept the offer, you are making a legal undertaking. You should not accept a job with the intention of rejecting it later, if something ‘better’ turns up.

Declining an offer

If, after serious thought, you decide that the job is definitely not for you, contact the employer, ideally by telephone (confirming afterwards in writing) and politely let them know your decision. It’s worth remaining on good terms as you might find yourself working with or even applying to that organisation again at a later date. Try to inform them as soon as possible, so that they can offer the job to someone else.

Can I accept an offer and reject it later?

A contract is a legal document, and you should never sign such a document with the intention, however vague, of reneging on it at a later date. It is possible, although unlikely, that an employer may take action against you for breach of contract if you do so.

If you do find yourself in a position where you feel you would like to reject an offer that you have already accepted, you should let the employer know as soon as possible. Ideally speak to the relevant person/recruiter by telephone. Delay will only make the situation more difficult, as the organisation may wish to offer your place to another candidate. Be honest, and explain your reasons for now declining their offer. Organisations prefer to employ people who are genuinely motivated, and you may find that they will appreciate your honesty at this stage.

Bear in mind that recruiters at different firms talk to each other, companies might merge at some point in the future and human resources staff do move between companies. In other words, be polite and apologetic, and try to leave the organisation with a positive impression, you never know when you might come across these people again in your career!

Reneging on an offer is something to be avoided if at all possible. Our advice would be to talk to a careers adviser about the situation before taking action.

This information was last updated on 06 June 2019.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about Handling Offers

Win £100 with the Internship Office Photo Competition!

Blogged by Internship Office on 18/07/2019.

The Oxford University Internship Office Photo Competition is taking place once again in 2019! We are inviting all students who take part in internships facilitated through the Internship Office to submit photos that best represent your internship experience.

Please submit entries for the following categories:

Through an intern’s eyes…

What does your internship look like? Are there images you are seeing each day that would represent your experience in a positive way? Perhaps a snap of your colleagues, your workstation, field trips, events or meetings, appealing views on your way to work, even interesting objects which you associate with your internship. You can be as creative as you like!

You on your internship

We want to see photos of you in your internship environment. This could be a selfie, or you could task someone else to take a picture of you in action on your internship. This could be a posed shot, a journey, an event, meeting or you in your everyday routine on your internship.

Rules and tips

  • To enter the competition, please send your photos by email to internships@careers.ox.ac.uk with the items as file attachments, or using a file transfer service such as WeTransfer or Dropbox. Please state clearly which categories you would like to enter.
  • You may enter five photos for each category (a maximum of 10 photos in total).
  • The winning entries will be decided by a selection panel at the Careers Service.
  • For information on copyright and usage permission, please see the terms and conditions.
  • There will be one prize winner per category, who will each be awarded a high street voucher worth £100.
  • We are looking for photographs that communicate your internship experience in an interesting way. Creativity and imagination will be rewarded!
  • The closing date for this competition is 17:00, Monday 16 September 2019.

And finally, if you need some inspiration, have a look at some of our favourite entries from previous competitions:

2015 Slideshow

2016 Slideshow

2017 Slideshow

Researcher Strategy Consultancy Michaelmas 2019 – Apply Now!

Blogged by Fiona Sinclair on 18/07/2019.

Applications for the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme are now open

The purpose of the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme is to provide early career researchers (DPhil students, RAs, and postdocs) with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical, business, or policy roles in the sector.

Particular emphasis is given to business awareness, teamwork, communication and leadership to complement other postgraduate training. This programme enables participants to build on skills that typically develop in designing, planning and conducting complex research projects. Whatever their career plans, including further research and academia, participants can benefit significantly from the programme.

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in teams, over a 3 month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation.

Apply now

Click here to apply. The closing date is Monday 9 September (noon).

We are particularly interested in attracting applicants from across the University to form cross-disciplinary teams to work on our client challenges.

For further information, and for mandatory assessment and training dates, please visit the Researcher Strategy Consultancy webpage. If you have any queries regarding the programme, please email courses@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Goldman Sachs Trader Academy for Women

Posted on behalf of Goldman Sachs. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on 03/07/2019.

Goldman Sachs are seeking out people with all types of skills, interests and experiences. Even if you’ve never imagined a career in finance, there’s a place for you here. For us, it’s all about bringing together people who are curious, collaborative and have the drive to make things possible for our clients and communities.

If you are analytically minded and interested in learning more about trading, we encourage you to apply to the Trader Academy Programme, available to women graduating in 2021. Through a combination of experiential learning, work shadowing and mentorship you will develop your existing strengths, learn from our professionals and build confidence, providing the ideal launch pad for a career in the financial markets.

  • 3-6 month training academy, aimed at equipping you for a career in trading
  • 3 onsite training days at our offices in London
  • Distance learning via mentoring from traders and access to online resources
  • Career advice and preparation for summer internship interviews

If you would like to attend, please visit the events portal at gs.com/careers/events

Upon registration, please outline in 300 words your interest in trading and why you would like to join the Trader Academy. Application Deadline: 31 July 2019

Banking Insight for women – 24 July

Posted on behalf of Stafford Long Diversity Solutions. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on 02/07/2019.

FreshLook is a profile-raising event specifically designed to introduce first-year female students (or second-year if on a four year course) to the wide range of careers in investment and corporate banking, held on Wednesday 24 July 2019. Through informative presentations, panel discussions and informal networking, the event offers the chance to learn from professionals working at some of the world’s top investment banks. FreshLook is open to first-year female students from all degree disciplines. It’s a unique opportunity to discover what it’s really like to work in the City – and to ask any questions you might have about one of the most demanding and rewarding careers around.

All the details you need to know…

  • When: Wednesday 24 July, 15:00-19:30
  • Where: City of London. The exact location will be revealed once your application has been approved. Travel expenses are reimbursed up to the value of £75.
  • Participating firms: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs,  Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Royal Bank of Canada.
  • To apply, visit: www.freshlookbanking.com

Each student who successfully has their application approved will have their CV forwarded to the senior recruiters of the banks.

The event is organised by Stafford Long Diversity Solutions. If you have any questions about the event, simply email events@staffordlong.co.uk or find the Stafford Long Diversity Solutions social media details on the website: staffordlongdiversitysolutions.com

International Mathematical Olympiad: Exclusive talk and weekly cash prize competitions

Posted on behalf of G-Research. Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 28/06/2019.

G-Research, a leading quantitative research and technology company and long-standing Oxford recruiter is sponsoring the International Mathematical Olympiad 2019.

Weekly Competitions

To celebrate this, they are launching a weekly mathematical challenge in the style of IMO problems – with a cash prize of £1,000 each week for the first person to submit the correct answer. A ‘warm-up’ taster challenge will go live on Monday 1 July, and the first cash prize challenge will go live at midday Monday 8 July. You will find the puzzles here >>

Exclusive talk on Combinatorics: Monday 22 July, from 18:00

Professor Po-Shen Loh (Carnegie Mellon University), national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team will give a talk on combinatorics in London on 22 July.

When Bare Hands Fail: An Interactive Talk on Combinatorics with Po-Shen Loh,

Where: The Royal College of Physicians, 11 Saint Andrews Place Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4LE
When: Monday 22 July, from 18:00
Reserve your place: please email Alex.Whitlcok@gresearch.co.uk – places are limited and first come, first served so register ASAP to avoid missing out!

This interactive lecture will use one of the most difficult problems from a recent USA Mathematical Olympiad exam to illustrate the connections between modern combinatorial problems and theorems and techniques from other branches of mathematics, such as algebra, probability, and even topology.

Free event, and travel to and from the event will be reimbursed – please remember to bring your receipt with you on the day.

This page displays current related blog posts. If none display, you can still stay up-to-date with our newsletter sent regularly to all Oxford students.

Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.