Handling construction job offers: accepting, rejecting and playing for time
Graduate jobs in construction, civil engineering and surveying are highly competitive to secure. But recruiters tell TARGETjobs that it isn’t uncommon for the most impressive candidates to receive more than one job offer or to need a bit of time while they wait for others to come through.
Many candidates say to us that they worry about how to handle these situations – can you ask for more time? Do you tell recruiters about your situation? Can you negotiate your salary? Take a look at our advice.
Quick links for this article:
Can I delay accepting an offer? | Can I speed up recruiters? | Should I pretend I have other interviews? | Do I tell recruiters I have multiple offers? | How do I decide which offer to accept? | Can I negotiate my salary? | How do I decline an offer?
If you are waiting to hear whether you’ve got a job with another employer, the most important thing is to be up front with the construction, quantity surveying or civil or structural engineering recruiters. Never accept the job if you believe you will decline the offer later.
Adam Phillips, a senior graduate recruitment lead from AECOM, says: ‘Don’t burn bridges with companies or recruiters. Remember that you may want to work for the company at a later stage, or may end up working with the organisation on a project. Graduate recruiters also often move around companies, so you may come into contact with the person again. You don’t want to damage your professional reputation.’
Rather than lying or ‘playing’ for time, simply ask for time and update your potential employers regularly with where you are in your decision-making process. Katy Chadder, an emerging talent manager at Skanska UK, says: ‘It’s an important decision you have to make and most employers will understand and respect that. Keep communicating with the employer and let them know a realistic timescale for when you can make you decision by.’ Agree a timeframe and stick to it to avoid losing the job offer.
If you already have a job offer waiting for you and you’re in another interview, it might be tempting to ask the recruiter to get back to you sooner rather than later. If you’re under time pressure, recruiters do want to be made aware so that they can plan their timing and avoid losing you to someone else. However, the key to remember is that it is their decision as to whether they speed up their process for you.
Rather than asking that they let you know by a certain time, it is advisable to highlight that you have to let the other company know by a certain time. That way, you haven’t demanded anything from the recruiter but you’ve pointed out when you need to know by.
Nearly all interviewers will ask you if you are interviewing elsewhere and you may feel embarrassed to respond with ‘no’. However, recruiters ask this question for logistical reasons – not to see if other companies think you’re desirable or not. There is very little to be gained from pretending you are interviewing elsewhere and, in fact, the construction, quantity surveying and civil and structural engineering community is fairly interactive so it’s best not to risk being caught out on your lie.
Companies know that the most desirable applicants are likely to receive multiple job offers, so don’t be afraid to let the recruiters know about your situation. Melissa Hopper, a graduate recruitment manager at Mott MacDonald, says: ‘We ask graduates to be open and honest with us. We want you to make the right decision rather than feeling rushed and potentially making the wrong one.’
Reflect on what you know about the company; you should be aware of the projects it is working on from the application process. If you have specific questions that you can’t find the answer to, such as the number of people that pass the professional qualifications first time, then ask the recruiter. Speak to family, friends and university alumni who work in the industry.
You should also check whether the employer has an Inside Buzz profile on their TARGETjobs employer hubs. Inside Buzz tells you what graduates at the company think of working there.
Weigh up the pros and cons for each job offer. You should consider a range of factors including:
- training – how will the employer support you through your professional qualifications? What training do they give on the latest technological developments? Will the company offer ‘soft skills’ training, such as presentation and communication, so you can advance your career?
- location and travel – to what extent will you be required to travel, eg across the UK or abroad?
- career progression – how did managers get to their current position? Do you want a long-term career with the company?
Although money can be a key influencer, Katy says: ‘It may be tempting for a graduate to focus on salary, multiple discounts and flashy cars they may be entitled to when making a decision between multiple job offers, but our advice is to look beyond monetary rewards. Think about the company’s values and ethics – do they align with your own? And what about work/life balance?’
If you are still finding the decision hard, think about where you felt most comfortable during the application process; fitting in with the team is important to the success of your graduate job.
The simple answer is no; you can’t use multiple offers to get a higher salary, at least at large employers with formal graduate schemes. Most graduate employers have a set salary scale, which it will not go outside of, to make sure it is being fair and consistent to all graduates who join its programme. Some smaller employers might have a bit more room for manoeuver but are unlikely to be able to match the big companies’ salaries.
You should email the recruiter to decline the position, unless they have stated previously how they would like to be contacted.
Follow these four rules in your email:
- be prompt – the recruiter will need to offer another applicant the position, so let them know as soon as you have made your decision.
- be professional – you may be declining a job offer with a particular company now, but you may want to be considered for future opportunities. Thank all the people that were involved in the application process. Make sure you end on good terms.
- be brief – keep your letter to the point; don’t list numerous reasons why you are declining the offer. Thank the company for the offer and state you are accepting the job that suits your career objectives, for example. There is no need to give over-specific reasons such as salary or company reputation.
An example of a job offer rejection email:
Thank you very much for your job offer. However, after serious reflection, I have decided to accept a different offer.
I’d like to thank you, Stephen and Lucinda for all your help during the recruitment process and I enjoyed getting to know more about the company.