What do you do when the phone rings with good news? I’ve heard about a wide range of responses from the stunned silence to the uncontrollable fit of sobbing (for joy). Some of you will have heard my story of what happened when I heard I had been offered a training contract. I forgot that I was standing on a stone floor and had a bottle of wine under each arm. I threw my arms in the air. Whoops!
Sometimes the emotion of the moment means that you overlook some key parts of a constructive conversation. Here are my top tips to manage the experience.
Find somewhere quiet to have the call
You may be able to see when you phone rings that the call is likely to be about the outcome of a job interview. If you are with others, consider asking if you can ring straight back. It’s not the time for an employer to hear background whoops and you’ll be distracted if your friends are there jumping up and down.
Make sure you understand the key terms of the offer
When is the job to start? Are there any preconditions (like class of degree)? If it’s a training contract, will your further professional qualification by funded? Will you get living expenses during study? Where will you be based (very important in a multi-location organisation)?
If you go for a final interview, it would probably be a good idea to jot down these questions somewhere. That way, if the news is good, you’ll make sure to get all the key information. It’s always embarrassing to have to ring back later and ask obvious questions.
You don’t have to commit yourself immediately
Flattering as it is to get a job offer, the first one may not necessarily be your preferred option. You should take time to think whether this is right for you. You may be waiting on other possible offers. If so, it’s good to be able to consider all your options at one time. Generally don’t accept an offer “then and there” but ask for some thinking time. Explain that you want to be sure you’re doing the right thing. If you’re waiting for another possible offer, you might want to explain this too. Don’t be afraid of letting the employer know that you have other possible (or actual) options.
Once an offer is made the power balance shifts between you and the employer. You’re a preferred candidate and now it might be down to the employer to persuade you to accept the offer. Is there anything you need to help you make a decision? Would you like to speak to a graduate already working for the organisation or have another look round? Ask! You are likely to find that the employer will accommodate your request.
Ask for the offer in writing
It’s useful to have a document with the full terms of any offer. By this stage you do want to know about salary rates, sickness pay, interest periods, pension contributions, all the “boring bits” you are told never to ask about when you have an interview. This might be useful for comparison purposes if you have two or more offers, or you might want to negotiate improved terms.
Ok to negotiate?
If you’ve been offered a graduate scheme or a training contract in a large law firm there isn’t likely to be any scope for negotiation. It’ll be a “take it or leave it” situation. If you’ve been offered a post by a small organisation which only takes a very few graduate employees and doesn’t have a formal scheme then go for it! Do your homework and try to get an understanding of what other comparable employers are paying. If you’ve been offered a paralegal job, then know the going rate for paralegals for the particular location you’re looking at. Salaries vary around the country. There’s no point in trying to negotiate a London salary in Manchester. Don’t restrict your negotiations to salary though. Maybe an employer won’t put any more money on the table but will offer you some extra holiday. Work out what matters most for you and try for it. You never lose anything by asking.
Go out and celebrate. Getting a job is hard work and you just succeeded!