New grads: Here’s what to do after getting a job offer

In the last of our series, college career counselors share crucial steps you need to take before you start your new job.

New grads: Here’s what to do after getting a job offer

This is part of an ongoing series of advice for new grads from career counselors.

For many of you new grads, it’s celebration time right now. In addition to graduating, you created a killer resume, networked like crazy, interviewed like a boss, negotiated for your very first salary—and now you’ve gotten an official offer for your first real job!

Hold the bubbly, though— there’s a little more housekeeping to take care of before you start popping corks left and right..

In this story, the experts share what you need to do after getting your first job offer.

Respond ASAP

“You will receive a written offer to sign, so be sure to read through the details and make sure it matches the verbal offer,” says Kristen McMullen, director of the Student Success Center at the College of Charleston School of Business in Charleston, South Carolina.

Once you’ve reviewed your written offer and verified that everything matches up, don’t sit on it. It’s important to respond quickly (within a day), especially if there’s more to accepting the offer than just signing on the dotted line.

“Most companies will also require some type of background check, so be sure to respond to all inquiries for information in a timely fashion—this is their first impression of you as an employee,” says McMullen. Also, these requests for information may come in a rolling fashion and take time, so the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish.

Close the loop on outstanding applications

Hiring people takes a lot of effort. And just as you’ve put in work to get a job, you want to be respectful of all the hiring managers out there to whom you’ve sent your resume, so they can look for someone else to fill the role.

“Once you confirm your offer, you should notify all other prospective employers that your application is to be withdrawn from consideration, due to acceptance of other employment,” says William Bailey, director of career and professional development at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania.

This shows integrity and respect, but will also leave a good impression with the recruiters—because you never know if you’ll cross paths again.

Complete your new hire paperwork

Yes, after your acceptance paperwork, there may be even more forms to sign and online documentation to complete. It’s probably the last thing you want to deal with after four years of term papers and exams, but it’s extremely important.

“You should carefully read and save copies of all the new hire paperwork you’ll be filling out—offer letter, benefits information, employee handbook, non-compete agreements, and more,” says Matthew Wheeler, assistant director of career services at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Create a folder for the hard copies and a folder in your computer for any online documents. “You should know what terms you’re agreeing to and be able to reference them,” he says.

Some new hire documentation, such as health insurance and retirement plans, could also affect you financially. “If the employer matches employee contributions [in your retirement plan], this is essentially free money that will multiply over time,” says Vickie Cox-Lanyon, career services director, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. If you have any questions, ask a parent, mentor, or your college career counselor before making important financial decisions.

Start a first job budget

While your bank account may not exactly be bursting at the seams, many college grads earn the most money they’ve ever made once they start working full-time. You’ll want to be wise with this new income.

“Now that you know the final terms of your offer, start making a budget—and don’t forget to include income taxes, rent and utilities, transportation costs, pre-tax retirement contributions, student loan payments, and savings goals,” says Wheeler.

Seeing that large number marked “salary” on your official written offer can be misleading since it’s pre-tax income over an entire year, which will have to cover a variety of expenses. So take 30 minutes to figure out monthly expenses with this new income, and it might stop you from getting into first-job debt. 

Go on a thank-you tour

You didn’t get this job alone. It took a village. So be sure to thank everyone involved with helping you get hired.

“Reach out to your network to share your good news and thank each of them for assistance offered throughout the process,” says Stephanie Kit, director of the Center for Career Development at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “This helps strengthen your network for the future.”

Go beyond thanking your interviewers and recruiters; thank anyone you went to for advice about the company or the job, thank family friends who recommended you, and thank roommates who proofread your resume. And last, but not least, thank the career services team that had your back throughout the application process.

Plan some well-earned time with friends and family

Wondering what to do in between graduation and starting your career?

“Go spend extra time with friends, family, and loved ones,” says Jim Allison, executive director of the Career Center at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina  “You will be quite busy year-one on the new job. And sleep in, if possible—those days may come to an end soon.”

Keep your career path clear

It's been a long time coming, so when you land your first job, you definitely have cause to celebrate. But obviously, this isn't the end of the line—you're just getting started! A first job is the place where you can help build the foundation for a great career. Need some help making your way up the ranks? Join Monster today. As a member, you can get career advice and job search tips sent directly to your inbox. From leadership skills, to time-management techniques, to negotiating your first raise, you'll learn how to takes steps along your career path that lead you to the top.

More from this series:

How can college seniors decide which jobs to apply for?

How to use your internship to find your first real job

How college seniors can get their resumes to the top of the pack before graduation

Networking tips for college seniors

A crash course for college seniors on how to nail the job interview

College seniors, here’s how to find a job with the right cultural fit

College seniors, here’s how to negotiate the salary at your first job