Job Offer Guidelines for Students

For many years, the Career Center encouraged employers making employment offers to Cal students to abide by certain dates for student responses.  However, during the past two years, we have observed significant changes in employer hiring patterns for both summer interns and new college graduates from major universities nationwide. The combination of a very competitive marketplace for the best talent, a dramatic increase in early full-time employment offers extended to and accepted by successful summer interns, and employers’ general shift toward more on-campus recruiting in the fall rather than the spring has resulted in a markedly different recruitment landscape. Few employers are willing to conform to specific or varying deadline dates for student job offers as they manage their time-sensitive, complex recruitment processes across multiple campuses. Based upon our surveys and discussions with employers, we have learned that most employers are, in fact, operating under a two-to-four week response window for all student offers extended, with the majority expecting a two weeks’ response time.

Within this current context, the Center Career has established these guidelines to provide both students and employers a fair, transparent and up-to-date framework for managing the offer phase of the recruitment process:

  • For all offers extended for summer internships or full-time employment, employers should allow a minimum of two weeks from the date of the written offer, but preferably longer, for students to accept or decline any offer. 
  • The written offer should clearly state all appropriate terms and conditions, including, but not limited to, position title/description, location, benefits, start date, salary, bonuses, etc. 
  • All bonuses or other incentives are to remain in full effect for the entire duration of the offer period.
  • Students are encouraged to contact employers well before the offer deadline if they have any questions or concerns about their offers, including needing more time to make their decisions.  Refer to Managing the Job Offer Process section below for more information.
  • Employers should be flexible in granting offer extensions on a case-by-case basis if the circumstances warrant it.

EXCEPTIONS:  Per prior agreement, these are the offer deadlines for the Big Four accounting firms:

  • August 27, 2015, will be the deadline for Summer 2015 interns to respond to any Big Four offers for full-time employment after graduation. 
  • Nov. 20, 2015, will be the deadline for students to accept/decline all Fall OCR full-time and summer offers received from the Big Four during Fall 2015 OCR.

Managing the Job Offer Process

During this important phase of your job search:

  • Make sure that you have the terms and conditions of your offer clearly defined in writing (job duties, salary, bonuses and other benefits, starting date, work location and schedule, etc.).  If a formal offer letter does not follow a verbal offer or if you need further clarification about the written terms, follow up with the employer immediately.
  • Do not hoard offers.  If you are not interested in a particular offer at all, please let that employer know immediately.
  • Don’t be pressured by “exploding offers” (see definition below).  The Career Center’s two-week offer guidelines are intended to protect you from any undue pressure.  Notify the employer immediately if their offer does not conform to campus guidelines. 
  • Understand that offers may not be negotiable, even in a competitive market.  Be realistic about your expectations and conduct appropriate research before approaching an employer to discuss any terms or conditions of your offer.
  • Accept an offer only after careful consideration. Allow enough time to consult with family or others before your offer expires.  Don’t make rushed decisions, nor accept offers that you cannot fully support.
  • Notify organizations of your decision regarding their offers in the timeframe agreed upon. If you need more time, you may contact the organization for a possible extension. However, it will be the employer's decision whether to grant your request for more time.
  • After accepting an offer, you are expected to withdraw your applications and/or cancel your interviews with other employers.  If you are holding other pending offers, you are also expected to immediately notify those organizations of your final decision.
  • Do not renege after accepting an offer.  By not honoring your professional commitment, you create a situation that damages UC Berkeley’s reputation among employers.

If you have further questions about these guidelines or seek more detailed information about the offer evaluation or negotiating processes, refer to Interviewing and Job Offers or consult with your Career Center counselor.

Exploding Offers

The UC Berkeley Career Center defines an exploding offer as any offer which does not conform with the offer guidelines listed above.Students should not be pressured to accept offers “on the spot” or "early,” whether this is based upon a shorter timeframe for consideration overall and/or due to any special diminishing incentives attached, e.g.,  tiered or expiring bonuses, reduced options for location preferences, etc.   The Career Center expects all employers to refrain from such practices when recruiting Cal students and alumni.