The Placement Exchange is now over and on campus interviews are flowing in. It feels great to accept those interviews and think about next steps. And then anxiety hits…. Your first job offer is extended, and you have to make a life defining decision. Take a breath and listen. Only you can make that choice but there are a few tips that can help candidates feel confident in their decision-making process. 

Set your priorities. What are your non-negotiables? Put this list together before an offer is presented. This will allow a clear mind and a list to be generated without prejudice or bias. These are your priorities so they should be important to YOU. Think about location, salary, benefits, professional development, education stipend, or other pieces that will affect your choice to say yes. Write them down and make sure you look back at it whenever an offer is presented.

Be confident in your education, work, and experience. Speak the truth about the work you have done and be proud of what you have accomplished thus far. YOU ARE AMAZING! You do great work and the employers need to hear about it. Think about the experiences and skills that you possess that are different from everyone else in the room. Use these experiences to boost your interview to the next level. This will help those offers come from your preferred schools. 

Don’t be afraid to decline an offer. From my experience this is the hardest part. When an offer is given, but you know this is not your optimal job offer. Take the information, think about it but communicate back to the college or university about the offer. I was offered a live-on residence life position living in a fraternity house that had the refrigerator in the living room. The salary was amazing (I had to ask twice to verify they said the correct amount) but I know this position was not going to help me professionally or personally. There were more yellow or red flags, and my priorities were not being met. I had to turn down my first professional job offer without another offer on the table.

Don’t believe in “fit.” During an interview, the interviewer should be interviewed just as much as the interviewee. There are some campuses or environments that will be more comfortable and allow for a more welcoming space that allows you to be your authentic self in the position. That does not mean you need to fit into their mold or prescribe to their definition of “fit”. According to Mariam-Webster, fit is to “conform correctly to the shape or size of.” No one should have to conform to be welcome or comfortable.

Both candidates and employers can take this information and be more thoughtful in their approach to interviews and offers. Take the time to figure out the needs of the department, of yourself, or your community to flourish and set yourself or your office up for success.