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Learn from Me: Evaluating Job Offers

Based on the true student story of Jenna, Computer Science, Class of 2019

At the start of my senior year I had just wrapped up a summer internship that also gave me an offer to return full-time after graduation. This was definitely great news, but it was also the start of an important process where I needed to decide if this was the right position for me, a company that aligned with my values and overall represented the direction I wanted to go with my career. The Career Center has great resources on handshake to help with employer research and comparing job offers, and so started my job offer evaluation process.

Evaluating Salary

The most obvious part of a job offer that most people jump to - how much does it pay? Of course this was part of what I considered by determining if I could support myself on the salary offered.

I started by making a budget that includes expected housing costs, student loan payments, estimated utilities bills, car payments, groceries, retirement savings, cell phone plan, gas, netflix account and many other costs that would be a part of my post graduation bills. I took my salary offer, subtracted 20% to account for taxes and healthcare costs and divided the remainder by 12 to have an estimated monthly take home amount. Could I afford my expenses with this salary?

Estimate your own budget using the Post-Grad Budget Worksheet available on the Handshake Resource page, Job Offers & Negotiation tile. Look for the attachments on the left side of the page.

Cost of living can also greatly vary based on the location and plays a factor in estimating a fair salary. Does the salary seem fair considering cost of living for the company’s location? How does the salary compare to cost of living comparisons from different locations?

I also knew my worth by completing salary research. Then I asked myself: Considering industry, education, GPA, past experience and skills in the industry, was the salary fair?

Ultimately, it was very important that I understood how to live within my means, which helped put a salary into perspective.


If cost of living or salary research indicates an offer is below average, I knew I had the option to negotiate. In my case, the salary was fair but if you decide to negotiate be sure you have specific evidence or a strong case for why you want to improve your offer. Also, think about job offer terms in areas other than salary. Are there other things that would improve the offer?

Additional negotiation options:

  • Relocation fees

  • Signing bonus

  • Additional vacation time

  • Flexible start date

  • Parking fees/personal parking space

  • Professional Development funds (for conferences or travel)

  • Tuition reimbursement (if you pursue a master's degree)


Several times while I was considering the offer I went back to the recruiters to ask follow up questions. As I explored the offer (specifics on benefits or job start date flexibility) I would email and get clarification or request more information for details that were missing. Do I have all the information I need to fairly consider this offer?

Dear recruiter name,

Thank you for sharing the details of my job offer, I am giving them careful review now. The offer currently includes a June 1st start date but since I am making a significant relocation, could the start date be moved to later in the month? Also, could you clarify the parking situation for full-time employees? Is there a parking lot available or street parking? Are their fees associated with parking or parking permits required? Do many of the other employees use public transportation?

Thank you for helping me understand some of these details.



I found it very helpful to spend a great deal of time deciding what would be the most important things I wanted from the job and prioritizing my values.

Here are some of the most important things I evaluated and put into priority order.

  • Company Environment/workspace

  • Location

  • Mentor support

  • On the job training

  • Friends/social connections

  • Relocation assistance

  • Weather in the area

  • Vacation time

  • Returning to known environment vs learning a new company culture

  • Salary

  • Benefits

  • Continued education cost coverage

  • Career growth opportunities

  • Short term vs long term career goals

To help me work through this, I attending career lab and talked with a career coach. We used the large white board in the career center to brainstorm the pros and cons of my offer and the significance I assigned to each. I decided that the company environment and location were at the top of my list and that allowed me to more heavily weigh those details in the job offer. Salary was also very low on the list for me and therefore did not influence my decision much. I found it helpful to prioritize the details in a way that made sense to me and based on my identified values. Now I could more confidently answer the question: Does this job offer align with what I find most important?

To help compare offers use the “Compare Job Offers Worksheet” attachment on the Handshake Job Offers tile.

Talk it out with those who know you best

I spent a lot of time talking to my parents, career coach and friends about my decision. I asked for advice and their perspective based on what they knew about me. The thoughts they shared were considered when making my final decision, but I did not let one person’s opinion overly influence me. Ultimately, those in my inner circle where helpful but it was my decision to make.

A Job Offer Can Be Leverage

I had the advantage of a offer deadline that gave me time to apply to other positions and compare companies and jobs. During the interview process for other positions I also used my offer as leverage. I believe this helped encourage several other offers and moving along the application process so I could consider other companies before responding to the job offer I already had. You do not need to disclose the company details, salary, or other details from your offer if you don’t feel comfortable to do so.

“I do want to share that I currently have a competitive job offer. While I remain interested in your company, I also have a November deadline on that offer. Would it be possible to be considered for this position before that deadline?”


Shortly before my offer deadline, I also faced a dilemma. Another company I would love to work for invited me to interview for a job, but shared it would be a 6-8 week interview process that would not be completed before my current job offer deadline. I reached out to see if I could get an extension from the company that given me a job offer.

Dear ___,

I remain excited about the offer to come work for (company name) but I am still taking time to consider the offer, discuss the details with my family and wrap up my fall semester coursework. Would it be possible to extend the offer deadline to (date) so that I have time to fairly and completely evaluate it?

Thank you for your consideration,


Ultimately, I was not granted an extension which meant I had to decide if I would accept the current offer without knowing if I would receive additional offers. This was challenging and while it would be nice if timelines would allow all offers to come in at the same time, its to be expected that offer deadlines and processes will not align. I knew to preserve recruitment relationships with Lehigh and to ethically do the right thing, once I accepted a job I needed to remain committed to it and not pursue future interviews or additional applications. Once I said yes to a position, I was done my job search.

Dear ___________,

Thank you for the offer to interview for the __________ position. Unfortunately, I need to withdraw from the application process because I have accepted an offer with another company. I remain impressed with your organization, and I would be very interested in applying again in the future after I have 1-2 years of job experience that would make me a more competitive candidate.

Thank you for your interest and best of luck with your recruitment plans,


Happy Ending (and one last semester till graduation!)

Dear recruiter name,

It is with great enthusiasm that I accept the job offer with (company name). Thank you for being patient with my questions and giving me time to decide if this was a good fit for me. After much thought, I can see my career and future would be well served with a (job title) position. I have signed and attached my contract and look forward to starting in June.

Thank you,


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