The Recruitment Process and Your Responsibilities

What you need to know before looking for an internship or job.

The College Recruiting Cycle

Employers recruit year-round, but there is a cycle to the college recruiting process. Many large employers put their college recruiting plans together during the summer. When classes resume in the fall, employers will begin visiting campus to start networking with students, faculty, and staff. The Fall Business Career Fair is held in September and is the official start of the recruiting season. The networking that is done at the fair will result in hundreds of interviews in the weeks following the fair. On-campus interviewing and nearly all of the recruiting activity for the semester ends the week prior to finals. The process begins again at the start of the spring semester with the Spring Business Career Fair.

Some companies try to fill as many positions as possible during the fall semester and then focus on a smaller number of harder to fill positions as well as winter internships during the spring semester. In the fall, they will be working to fill full-time positions with both fall and spring semester graduates, and fall, winter and summer co-op and internship positions. In the spring, they are generally looking for spring graduates to fill full-time positions and students to fill summer and fall experiential education positions. Keep in mind that companies have hiring needs that arise at all times of the year. New jobs are posted in Handshake @ Illinois every week of the year, so it should be checked regularly.

Annual Campus Recruiting Timeline

Before beginning the internship or job search process, it's useful to be aware of key times when employers are seeking to engage with students. This graphic highlights the typical process and timeline for campus recruitment activities. It's best to be prepared to kick off your internship/job search in the fall semester by attending the career fair and employer showcases, but understand that for some roles and industries recruitment continues well into the spring semester as well.

This image highlights the typical recruiting activity by industry, though hiring does happen year-round!

Know the University of Illinois' Recruiting Policies and Expectations

Whether you are interviewing through On-Campus Recruiting or not, be sure to know your recruiting rights and responsibilities before you interview. You should also be aware of the recruiting policies and procedures expected for employers. If you have questions about our recruiting policies or how to handle a difficult situation with an employer, let us know.   We understand that it is in the students' best interest if they are granted ample time to make informed decisions. We encourage employers to set reasonable deadlines for job offers.

Expectations and Responsibilities During the Recruitment Process

If you find yourself in a unique situation or want help creating a strategy on how to respond to the employer about your offer, visit the Office of Career & Professional Development to design a customized plan just for you.

Providing accurate and truthful information

In the job search, ethics can begin to go south when it comes to resumes and interviewing. Ethical considerations aside, there's a good chance you'll get caught if you "customize" your resume beyond the truth or "fudge" the outcomes of a project.   For example, if you're reading a job posting and your GPA is below the required GPA, you may be tempted to make your GPA appear better than it is by "rounding up". But if you misrepresent your GPA and make it through the interviewing process, your offer could be rescinded by the company for not meeting their job requirements. Best practice is to accurately report your GPA on any job application materials.  The only approach to take when writing your resume is to be honest.

Interviewing only with employers for whom you're interested in working

During high-time recruiting season it's often likely that you can submit your résume to multiple opportunities. Before applying, take a moment to read over the job description and make sure it's a fit for what you're looking for. We encourage you to explore and keep your options open! The interview is the time to learn more about what the position and team you'll be working with. However, if you know the job isn't the right fit, don't waste your, or the employers, time by submitting an application or taking an interview for something you know you don't want. Not only does it become time-wasted, you could be taking away an opportunity for someone who is truly interested. When looking for opportunities, cast your net wide and choose options that are the best fit for you.

Don't Ghost an Employer

When you have an interview scheduled, make sure that you honor the commitment that you've made. No-showing or cancelling an interview at the last minute makes a bad impression on the interviewer and hurts not only your reputation, but that of the College as well. In addition, you have taken an interview spot from another student who may have really been interested in the opportunity. If you wake up sick and you're not able to attend the interview make sure to email the recruiter as soon as possible and also email or call the Office of Career & Professional Development, if the interview is on campus, so that we can help relay the message to the recruiter on your behalf. The Office of Career & Professional Development does have a policy that your Handshake account will be blocked for any no-show interviews.

Accepting, Declining and Responding to Offers

If you find yourself in a unique situation or want help creating a strategy on how to respond to an employer about an offer(s), let the Office of Career & Professional Development coach you through the process.

Acknowledging an Offer

When receiving an offer for employment, it's important to maintain professionalism whether or not you plan on accepting the offer. You should always respond in writing to acknowledge any offer you have received and indicate whether you plan to accept, decline or need additional time to consider the offer.

SAMPLE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT EMAIL: "Thank you so much for the offer of (position title) at your organization. It is a great opportunity and I am very excited to receive your offer. This is an important decision and I will respond to your offer by the deadline of September 30th.

Requesting a Deadline Extension

If you are undecided on an offer or are anticipating other offers, ask the employer for an extension if you will not be able to make a decision before the stated deadline. Generally speaking, try to do this 3-4 business days before the stated deadline. Here is sample language you can use:

SAMPLE REQUEST FOR EXTENSION: "Thank you so much for the offer of (position title) at your organization. It is a great opportunity and I am very excited to receive your offer. This is an important decision and I would like to have sufficient time to thoroughly consider the offer. I would like to request an extension of your deadline of September 5th to September 19th. Would this be possible? Thank you for your consideration."

Declining An Offer

If you are not planning on accepting the offer for any reason, let the employer know right away. There are others out there who are waiting for that exact offer, and the company is depending on you to let them know in a timely fashion.

SAMPLE DECLINED OFFER EMAIL (Return Offer): "Thank you so much for the opportunity to work in your organization as a (position title). Though it was a difficult decision, I am unable to accept your offer. I sincerely enjoyed my work this past summer and appreciate the relationships I developed. Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success, and I hope our paths cross again in the future."

SAMPLE DECLINED OFFER EMAIL: "Thank you so much for the opportunity to work in your organization as a (position title). Though it was a difficult decision, I am unable to accept your offer.  I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about your organization throughout the recruitment process.  I wish you much success in the future."

Juggling Multiple Offers

It is common for candidates to be in the middle of a recruiting process or to be negotiating offers with multiple companies before deciding to accept an offer. One common question that candidates ask is "what do I do while I am waiting on offers but have already received one (or more)?"

If you have received an offer but are undecided on the offer or are anticipating other offers, confirm your interest in the offer in writing and confirm that you will respond with a decision by the deadline (see above).

If the deadline doesn't allow you to consider additional offers that you are expecting, ask the employer for an extension. Generally speaking, try to do this 3-4 business days before the stated deadline.

Once you have received an offer, inform those who you are still in the recruitment process with that you have received an offer and ask if they are able to expedite your interview or their decision process. You should ask their timeline for notifying you of your status to ensure that you can meet the deadline to accept/decline the offer you have already received.

Accepting an Offer

First, be certain to accept the offer in writing and receive confirmation from the company that is hiring you before exiting the recruiting process with other companies. However unlikely it may be, you want to be certain that the company you have chosen has not decided to rescind their offer for some reason before you officially accepted.

See below for resources on negotiating your offer.  Once you have accepted and confirmed the offer, it is important to exit the recruiting with all other companies quickly and professionally. (See below for consequences of reneging!)

SAMPLE REQUEST FOR ACCEPTANCE:  "Thank you so much for the offer of (position title) at your organization. It is a great opportunity and I am very excited to accept your offer.  As mentioned in the offer letter, I will join your organization on August 1st."

Exiting the Recruitment Process

Once you have accepted an offer with an organization, it's time to exit the recruitment process.  If you have received additional job offers, it is important to email the other companies, thanking them for their time and letting them know that after much consideration, you have decided to accept another offer and are no longer available for their position.

For companies that you have interviewed with, but not received an offer, it is equally important to email them and let them know that you are no longer available for the position. The earlier the recruiter knows you are unavailable, the more time and energy they can spend evaluating other candidates. Your prompt and professional communication will be appreciated by the recruiter.

If you have an interview scheduled with any other company, it is important to let that company know that you have accepted an offer as soon as possible for the same reasons.

You should decline all future interview opportunities and should not submit applications for any other jobs.

Offer Negotiation

Salary negotiations involve discussing a job offer with a potential employer to settle on a salary and benefits package that's in line with the market (and hopefully, that meets or exceeds your needs). The most productive salary negotiations occur between people who realize that they have a common goal: to get the employee paid appropriately for their skills and experience.

Negotiations needn't be adversarial, and no one has to get aggressive. If you're a reluctant negotiator, it might help to keep in mind that you're on the same side.

Offer Negotiation Tips

  1. Wait for the Appropriate Time: Once you know what you should be earning, how do you go about getting it? Start by being patient. When interviewing for a new position, do your best not to bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer.
  2. Resist Throwing out the First Number: If you're asked what your salary requirements are, say that they are open based upon the position and the overall compensation package. Or tell the employer you'd like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job prior to discussing salary.
  3. Base Your Salary Request on Data: If you're forced to give a number, provide a salary range based upon the research you've done up front. Use this research to inform your negotiating technique. Talk about what's appropriate for the role, based on your experience and what you have to offer. Resist the temptation to talk about your personal financial needs.
  4. Give a Salary Range:  During the negotiation, avoid providing the employer with a single number (say, $65,000) instead provide a range with your goal salary at the bottom of that range.  For instance, if your goal is to make $65,000, you can use the range of $65,000-$70,000 in your negotiation discussion.
  5. Take Your Time: Once you've received the offer, you don't need to accept (or reject) it right away. A simple "I need to think it over" can get you an increase in the original offer.
  6. When considering your numbers, you should also come up with a "walk-away point"—a final offer that's so low that you have to turn it down. This could be based on financial need, market value, or simply what you need to feel good about the salary you're bringing home. Walking away from an offer will never be easy, but it's important to know when to do it—and powerful to be able to say "no."
  7. Negotiate Benefits: Consider whether there are employee benefits and perks that might be negotiable, even if the salary isn't. For example, the employer might be willing to offer you telecommuting privileges once a week, or an alternate schedule. Depending on your preferences and situation, arrangements like that might be worth accepting a slightly lower paycheck.
  8. Once you have negotiated and accepted the offer it's too late to back out.  Honor your "yes".
  9. Know when not to negotiate: Maybe the recruiter told you flat out what the salary would be, that they have done market research, know that their compensation and benefits packages are more than fair and that they do not negotiate salaries. If that's the case and they have made it very clear that they are not opening to negotiate – don't push. If you feel like you really need to ask once you can do so but accept the answer. Do you have to accept the offer? No, but this is not the time to play hardball.

Salary Research and Calculators

Reneging Has Consequences

What happens if you have already accepted a job offer when a better one comes along?

Can you back out of the first offer?  Here are the potential consequences if you do . . .

Say goodbye to future offers

Reneging on an offer is a quick way to ensure that you will not able to work for that organization in the future. Employers have long memories and you will likely have a black mark on your file.

In addition, this may affect your chances of working at competing organizations.  Keep in mind that many industries are relatively small and that people you angered by reneging may warn others in the industry about you. And when the offer came through on-campus recruiting where recruiters from competing organizations all know each other, this can be particularly damaging.

Who You Hurt In the Process

Reneging on an offer damages the University of Illinois reputation and the Gies College of Business reputation.  Just as you have benefited from the great reputation of the college, you are responsible for living up to this reputation.

When you renege on an offer the employer doesn't just think negatively about you, they also think negatively about the Gies College of Business. It may only take one instance for an employer to conclude that this is "just the way Gies students are" and be less inclined to recruit from Illinois in the future.

In addition, you have cost another student an opportunity for a desired professional experience working for this company.   Not to mention, the employer invested time and effort into hiring you and may not be able to replace you, especially if you renege late in the recruiting season.

Consequences of Reneging

There are consequences for reneging. Students who renege may be blocked from using Handshake @ Illinois for a minimum of one semester or longer.