A job offer is the final stage in the job search process. Companies usually inform candidates they would like to make them a job offer by telephone, or less frequently, by email.
After this, a formal written contract will be sent out, which is likely to be subject to a few final checks and measures, such as: your references being satisfactory; you pass a health/medical questionnaire; you pass a security/police check; your exam results are accurate; you have a UK work permit or the right to work in the UK; and even that you agree to relocate.
If you are not eligible to work in the UK but have not discussed this with your employer at any point previously during the assessment process, you will ultimately be found out and your offer will be withdrawn.
You do not need to rush to accept a job offer, particularly if you have reservations of any kind. It is far better to consider your options, compare offers, and take some time to reflect on your interviews and assessments than to rush in to accepting an offer.
Similarly, just because you have an offer does not mean this job role is necessarily the most suitable for you. There is nothing wrong with rejecting a job offer, if ultimately, you do not think you would be happy doing the job offered, or working at the company who have made the offer.
Employers are often quite flexible about start dates and even the financial package they are offering you. If you do not feel that the salary offered is adequate, or that you are worth a higher salary because of your specialist skills or attributes, you should say something.
Employers are open to negotiations on job offers, although you should be prepared for them to reject your suggestions. However, do not argue with your employer. If a firm tell you there is no room for negotiation on your job offer, accept that this is the case.
There will usually not be any room for salary negotiations for structured graduate schemes.
You should be absolutely clear about the hours you will be expected to work before signing your contract. Many firms will unofficially require you to work late several nights a week, but you should be aware of, and prepared for this, before you start working for the firm.
Watch out for any “opt out” clauses in your job offer contract, which infer you are opting out of your right to work less than 48 hours in the average week.
If you have been offered any of the above, be care to pay attention to specific details in your job offer contract. Accepting any “golden hellos” or “golden handshakes” offered to you upfront to encourage you to apply, may result in you also being given “golden handcuffs”.
This means that should you decide to leave the firm before the end of your training contract, or another fixed period of time, you will be required to pay back this starting bonus, either partially, or in full.
You should also pay attention to the particular details in your job offer relating to your training itself. Although your firm may be offering to pay for your training (e.g. ACA, ACCA, etc), you may be required to pay for any exams you fail, or need to resit.
Should you fail an exam more than once, you may actually be fired, in which case you may also be required to pay back all the money your firm has spent on training. Once again, should you chose to leave your firm before the end of your training contract, you may also have to pay back your associated training costs.