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Requesting extension of deadline to accept or decline offer

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In some cases you may need more time than the employer has allowed to make a decision. What to do:

Inform yourself:
What is a reasonable time to consider a job offer?
Reasonable Offer Deadline Guidelines from NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers | Principles for Professional Practice Committee.
There are a number of factors to consider, and this set of guidelines will help you determine if it seems to reasonable to ask for an extension.

If you believe you have good reason to ask for an extension, you may ask; do be aware that the employer does not have to grant it.

Make sure you have a concrete and appropriate reason for asking for an extension. Expecting to hear soon from another employer with whom you've interviewed is a legitimate reason. If you just hoping to get more interviews, that's not a concrete reason.

Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for an extension; this looks like you don't think ahead and may indicate that you might behave the same way on the job.

Be tactful and diplomatic in your wording. You will need to explain your reasons to the employer. For example, if you have an upcoming, previously scheduled interview with another employer, you may explain that it is important to you to keep your commitment to the other employer, and that in order to make the best decision, you need to attend the other interview.

For the sake of speed, phone the employer to discuss the situation. For the record, you should follow up in writing. Since this is a request that needs to be handled quickly, e-mail is probably the best method to confirm your request. See sample letter below.

What to do when you have one offer, but are hoping to have another that would be your first choice.

Need help? Consult a Career Services advisor — via walk-in advising or an appointment. We are here to help you sort through these kinds of situations.


Sample letter: Request for extension of deadline to accept or decline job offer:

If this were sent as hard-copy, your address and contact info would appear at the top.
Since this type of request needs to be handled quickly, most likely you would communicate verbally and use e-mail for confirmation in writing.

(sample of e-mail)

(March 1, 20xx)

Dr. Thomas G. Jones
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
2300 Main Street
Portland, OR 90001

Dear Dr. Jones:

Thank you for your telephone call and letter that I received yesterday offering me the position of wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am excited about the opportunity this position offers both in terms of job duties and location, and I very much appreciate your confidence in offering me the job.

You asked that I make a decision by next week on March 7. This is an important decision, and unfortunately I do not have all the information I need in order to make this decision by that date. To confirm our phone conversation of this afternoon, I am asking you to consider whether it would be possible for me to supply you with my decision by March 28. I would very much appreciate such an extension, and assure you that I will be able to make a firm decision by that date.

Thank you very much for your consideration of my request.

Hannah Lenke
Fish and Wildlife Sciences & Biology double-major | Virginia Tech
343 Jefferson Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(540) 555-8754