Should I take the offer?
Should I take the offer?
If you’ve gotten to this part of the student affairs job search, then some congratulations are in order! You are the top candidate! The institution wants to bring you on board! But sometimes that isn’t the news you want to hear. That’s because now you have to make a decision…
Do I take the offer or pass?
There are many things to consider when making your decision. An important thing to remember here is to pace yourself and review all of your options. This is a big step. This is the next stage of your career. That means that you owe it to yourself to take the time to make an informed decision.
Here are some of the most important considerations when determining if you should take this student affairs job offer.
A broad overview on the offer stage
If you’ve made it to this stage; then you’ve already made the case that you’re the top candidate. This is a time to be polite, congratulatory, and graceful. It might be difficult to keep this up if you’ve been involved in a long and drawn out search. But it’s important for you to maintain a positive relationship with the hiring manger and the institution as you engage in your negotiation process.
Being a successful negotiator also means being a successful communicator. So you need to be able to explain what you want. Rank the most important forms of compensation for you. For many that would be a high starting salary. For others it could be robust childcare; professional development; or re-location benefits. Whatever it is you chose to prioritize, remember to keep it at the top of your mind.
Though you must also be realistic. That means being prepared to compromise. You most likely won’t get everything that you ask for. If you’ve applied to a student activities position, then it may be tough to also get free living accommodations on campus. But it might be easier to ask for more professional development funding. The point is that you should enter this process prepared to give and take in your discussions with the hiring manager.
You’ll also want to keep in mind your future earnings potential as you engage in this discussion. You may not anticipate staying in this job for more than two years. But if you can negotiate for a few extra thousand dollars of base salary; that could amount to over $10,000 more over the course of your position if you choose to stay there for longer than your anticipated timeline.
The question check list
So your negotiations have gone well. Now the ball is in your side of the court. You have to either choose to say yes to this offer or decline it. What questions should you ask? Here are the top seven I’ve advised mentees to consider in the past:
1. Do you know what you’ll be doing everyday? (the job description is clear)
2. Do you know what the professional time commitment is? (will you have to work evenings and weekends frequently?)
3. What is the start date for the position? (and when does the institution need to have your decision by?)
4. Does the compensation package meet your needs and cost of living for the area (are you able to get everything that you need in order to take this offer?)
5. What do you think about your new colleagues? (would you enjoy working with them?)
6. Do you agree with the institution’s culture and working environment (i.e. mission and vision)
7. Most importantly: are you genuinely excited or this opportunity? Are you excited to join this institution?
Are there times when you should turn the offer down?
Absolutely. I’ve made this mistake in my career. I hope that you can avoid it. Here are four considerations that would make you want to turn down this offer.
1. Your gut just says no: you can’t explain it, but you just have a bad feeling about the position.
2. People you’ve spoken to don’t have anything to say: not just a lack of positive things to say, but nothing to say about the institution, office, or position.
3. Your values and priorities aren’t aligned with the institution: you don’t feel like this would be a welcoming place for you.
4. There isn’t enough room to develop as a professional: you don’t feel like you can look up to your supervisor and co-workers. You also don’t feel like your professional development would be supported.
Some personal stories
Student affairs professional Quinneka Lee recounted in this post that she initially declined one of the earliest offers in her career search. This surprised both her family and colleagues; though she chose to stick to her own values. She didn’t want to stay in a geographical area where she had grown and become comfortable. She wanted to explore opportunities outside of it
One of the biggest takeaways for her was that she decided to stretch and take some risks during her job search in order to achieve her dreams. Sometimes it’s okay to take a more conservative approach. But if you know what you want, and are willing to stick with it, then you can afford to make bolder moves when looking for your next position.
Similarly, student affairs professional Mary Rose Saint-Cyr recounted in this post that she received several offers after beginning her search. While many of them were in residential life, she knew that she didn’t want to continue working in live-on roles. Her search stretched on for some time until she landed a new position working in a diversity office at a medical school.
Mary’s story echoes Quinneka’s by remaining steadfast in their searches and knowing what they wanted (and didn’t want) in their next positions.
Knowing when to take an offer or pass on it is a big decision. Sometimes that decision is clear based on what you want to do; where you want to go; and who you want to work with. Stick with your values; trust your gut; and connect with your peers. We’re all invested in your development for the future of the field and for the future of education.
Daniel, T., Saint-Cyr, M. R., & Lee, Q. (2017, May 22). Keys of Success in Landing a Job in Student Affairs - New Professionals and Graduate Students Post. Retrieved from https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/posts/keys-of-success-in-landing-a-job-in-student-affairs
Doyle, A. (2019, May 26). 13 Signs You Should Turn Down a Job Offer. Retrieved from https://www.careertoolbelt.com/13-signs-you-should-turn-down-a-job-offer/
Eng, D. (2019, April 8). Negotiating Salaries in Student Affairs - Job Hakr: Student Affairs Job Search. Retrieved from https://www.jobhakr.com/blog-1/2019/4/8/negotiating-salaries-in-student-affairs-nbsp
Perlmutter, D. D. (2013, April 1). The Etiquette of Accepting a Job Offer. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Etiquette-of-Accepting-a/138207
Smith, A. (n.d.). The Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-questions-you-must-ask-yourself-before-accepting-a-job-offer