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One of the toughest parts of a job search is deciding which offer to accept. There are no easy answers, as almost every situation differs. The lack of a consistent hiring timeline by public service employers makes decision making a difficult part of the search process.

You can almost always buy time after you have received an offer. Since most job offers do not have to be accepted on the spot, you have the chance to consider all of the factors, such as responsibilities, salary, training and supervision.

  • Choosing Between Job Offers
    • To help you determine whether a job is a good fit for you:
      • Speak with former summer interns or others who worked with the employer about their experiences;
      • If you don’t have such contacts, request the names and contact information of students who worked at that office in the past
    • Students wishing to discuss choosing between offers should make an appointment with an OPIA adviser
  • Declining Offers
    • Make an effort to turn down the employer without burning any bridges (see OPIA’s Professionalism Guide for more information about how to communicate with employers)
    • Keep your promises; if you said you would call the employer with your answer by a certain date, do so
    • Contact the person who offered you the job directly to let him or her know your decision
    • Never leave a rejection on voice mail or with an assistant unless you have been instructed to do so
    • Make sure to thank the employer for his or her time and offer an explanation for your decision to choose another employer
    • If you are still interested in working for the organization in the future, leave the option open by noting in your email or conversation that you will contact the organization during your next job search
      • Remember: The public service world is well connected and you may find yourself looking for a job with the same employer or hoping to make a networking contact through someone from the office; just because you will not be working there now, do not assume you will never be in touch with the office again
    • Check out our sample emails to help you communicate with employers
  • Responding to Job Offers
    • Upon receiving an offer, thank the employer within 24 hours and enthusiastically reiterate your interest in the job (see OPIA’s Professionalism Guide for more information on how to contact employers)
    • Ask when the office needs to hear back from you
    • If you need more time to decide, politely request it from the employer and let them know why you need more time
    • If you are granted an extension, ask the employer what the final cutoff date will be for you to reach a decision
    • If an offer you receive is not from your top-choice employer, you can contact your top choice and tell them that you have received an offer and are hoping that they might make a decision before your acceptance deadline (see OPIA’s FAQ page for more details)
    • Employers may speed up their selection process if they risk losing a worthy and interested candidate
    • Do not tell an employer they are your top-choice unless you are certain you will accept their offer should you receive one

    Sample email:

    Dear [Employer]:

    Thank you again for taking the time to interview me last week. Since we last spoke, I received an offer for a summer internship with another organization. I am writing to ask whether you can provide any information about the timeline for your hiring decision. I would be delighted to work with [EMPLOYER] this summer and your office remains my first choice. I appreciate any information you are able to provide.

    Lauren Jones

  • Do Not Renege on an Accepted Job Offer

    Accepting a job or internship is a final decision: you may not renege your acceptance for another offer.

    • Reneging on an offer is unacceptable and can harm your professional reputation; if you have concerns about a particular offer or employer, speak with an adviser before accepting.
    • For more information, see OPIA’s Professionalism Guide.