The Top Reasons Entry-Level Candidates Do (And Don’t) Accept Job Offers

It's not only about compensation.

In a tight labor market, there’s no guarantee that the offer you extend to your ideal candidate will be accepted – even when you’re dealing with entry-level candidates. From competing offers to location, there are countless reasons a candidate could decide to turn down a job offer. So what’s really going through a candidate’s head when they accept (or reject) your job offer?

A survey conducted by RippleMatch provides some insight into the decision-making process of entry-level candidates. The survey gathered information on the challenges of the entry-level job search, as well as the determining factors that led Class of 2018 graduates to accept or reject a job offer. The survey collected the responses of more than 700 class of 2018 graduates from universities across the country who now work in industries such as finance, technology, healthcare, and consulting.

We asked graduates, “What were the most important factors that led you to accept your job offer?” and gave them the option to select as many factors that applied to them from a provided list of reasons. The results showed that company culture, professional development, and salary play the biggest role in convincing a candidate that a specific job is the right one for them.

Looking closer at the results, it’s also clear that salary is more important to underrepresented minority (URM) candidates than it is to non-URM candidates, with 68 percent of URM respondents citing salary as an influential factor compared to 58 percent of non-URM candidates. For URM candidates, company culture is the most important thing when considering a job offer, but salary and professional development are equally as important. For non-URM candidates, however, professional development and company culture outweigh the importance of salary.

Our survey also asked Class of 2018 graduates if they turned down a job offer – and why.

The top reasons candidates turned down job offers were tangible and practical reasons. Nearly 50 percent of respondents who turned down a job offer said they did so because the salary they were offered was too low, while around a third of respondents said the location of the job was not ideal.

However, graduates still considered their long-term trajectory and fit with a company when making their decision regarding the job offer. Around 25 percent of candidates turned down an offer because of what they perceived to be a “bad culture fit,” while a third of candidates did not think the role aligned with their intended career path.  

One of the most compelling differences between URM and non-URM candidates turning down offers: 13 percent of URM candidates cited a lack of diversity in the workplace as a reason for turning down a job offer compared to 4 percent of non-URM candidates. Without a diverse team in place, some underrepresented candidates may have reservations about accepting a job offer.

Looking at the data, there are some clear takeaways: Compensation matters, but so do the intangible aspects of a workplace, like having an inclusive company culture and offering opportunities for professional development. If you want to increase the chances of a candidate accepting your job offer, beyond offering competitive compensation it’s important to educate candidates about your company’s culture and ensure they understand how they can grow with your company over time.

Want to build diverse teams, increase candidate quality and build a brand that lasts? Get in touch with our team today and request a demo here.


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Global Head of University Recruiting & Programs

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University Recruiter

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