Securing a graduate job can be a wonderful feeling as well as providing tangible recognition of your hard work and determination. However, it can also be a source of confusion and some difficult decision making! It is not uncommon to receive one offer while still awaiting the decision of another recruiter. Your preferred employer may have just invited you to an assessment centre; how do you keep your options open?
There is no easy answer to this conundrum. Negotiation is key in terms of giving yourself additional time to consider the offer, although you need to think carefully about your reasons for needing this extra decision-making time. Graduate employers do appreciate that you are applying to different organisations but a reluctance to accept a job offer because you are considering other opportunities might be interpreted as a lack of focus or commitment. It is important to present your reasons for delaying your decision very diplomatically so as not to jeopardise the existing job offer. This is particularly important if the job offer in question is something that appeals to you in terms of both the role and the employer.
There is a temptation to say 'yes' to a job offer, especially if it is your first, but even if there are no other potential offers it is really important to take some time to make such a significant decision. Obviously, securing a graduate job is very important and can't be taken lightly but before committing ask yourself if it is really what you want or what you expected. It is okay to say no. Accepting a job offer does enter you into a legal contract with that employer; the decision to renege on an offer in order to take up a more favourable post an employer can insist that you work notice for resignation.