TAGS: ethics, principles, advisory opinion
Experience shows the best employment decisions for both students and employers are those that are made without pressure and with the greatest amount of information and transparency. Students given sufficient time to attend career fairs, participate in on-campus interviews, and/or complete the interviewing in which they are currently engaged are more likely to make good long-term employment decisions and may be less likely to renege on job acceptances.
Employers can use offer deadlines as part of planning a recruitment strategy. Offer deadlines will be influenced by the available candidate pool, the available recruitment opportunities, and anticipated staffing needs. Definitions of sufficient time for these offer deadlines will vary, given industry standards, students’ experience with the employer, offer timing, students’ career interests, and proximity to graduation date/start time. Some issues that employers may wish to consider when establishing their offer deadlines are:
In reviewing the issues pertaining to reasonable offer deadlines, it is appropriate to consult the NACE Principles for Ethical Professional Practice preamble, which clearly articulates that the Principles are designed to provide everyone involved in the career development and employment process with two basic precepts on which to base their efforts:
The NACE Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee understands that not all employers recruit at the same time of the year, nor do all colleges follow the same academic calendar. Therefore, recommending specific calendar dates for offers and acceptances would not be appropriate. Furthermore, many employers issue offers to their graduating co-ops or interns at the start of the employer’s recruiting cycle to provide those students priority consideration prior to extending offers to other students. Finally, shorter decision time frames would be appropriate if the candidate's graduation date and start date are very close.
Employers should assess their use of offer deadlines to ensure they are not placing undue pressure on a student. Pressure can arise not only as a result of the deadline, but also when there are financial incentives—a signing bonus or higher starting salary, for example—that encourage very early acceptance of offers. Today’s technology can significantly shorten the time from interview to receipt of complete job offer information. Although both students and employers benefit through this quick communication, it also can shorten the time available for students to make good decisions and increase the sense of urgency.
Career centers should provide guidance to students to help them make informed decisions when accepting or declining job offers. Career centers may provide guidance to employers and recommend that they consider extending deadlines when needed. Students should acknowledge that both what is best for their career and what the employer needs are to accept offers in a reasonable time. If employers don’t give a clear deadline upfront, career centers can help students work with employers to determine what might be a reasonable time.
NACE and the Principles Committee do not advocate enforcing a specific time frame, but rather encourage practices reasonable and appropriate for both employers and students. The Principles Committee believes that providing sufficient time for students to evaluate the employment opportunities offered to them allows them to make the wisest decisions for all concerned, creating a positive experience for candidates and employers, and ultimately reducing renege and attrition rates.
Reviewed and updated by the 2022 Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee.
Percent of institutions conducting First-Destination Surveys
Median number of professional staff
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
2021-22 Career Services Benchmarks Survey