The Insider's Guide To Job Search
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Patience In Negotiating - Reviewing Your Agreement
By Kevin T. Buckley, CPC
The most important time to exercise patience in the hiring process is in the final stages when an offer of employment has been extended to you. It is easy to rush the process in order to close the deal.
When you receive the offer and hiring agreement, take your time to go through your offer and hiring agreement (they are often two different documents) and consider what you are committing to.
Sometimes there will be pressure put on you to do so either by a recruiter who is representing the position, the employer who is eager for you to sign off so they can turn their attention to other priorities, or even a family member who wants the security that comes with a signed offer and hiring agreement.
If you receive pressure from the recruiter it is usually because recruiters want to close the deal and move on to the next priority. Some recruiters who are less than concerned with their client's welfare may try bullying tactics, essentially brushing off your concerns and strongly suggesting that you overlook points that you would like to question or discuss. This often will happen if you are between jobs and have expressed a degree of anxiety about being gainfully employed again. Stand your ground and send a message, documenting your way along, explaining what you would like to review.
Verbal agreements cannot be verified in the future because they are words and they are not recorded on paper. Discuss the situation with the recruiter or human resources representative but follow through to clarify your understanding by email.
- Is the salary noted the same figure discussed in an interview or with the
recruiter or representative?
- If not it could be a typo due to the document being prepared by a clerk
who made a mistake rather than the company arbitrarily making a change
In the sometimes charged event that an offer represents, little things can derail the process or affect the goodwill vital to securing a mutual agreement.
Salary review date:
- Is there one noted in the document?
- What discussion did you have with the employer or recruiter about their
flexibility in this area?
Some companies really do have certain salary scales for people coming into a given position. This level may not coincide with what you are looking for. One area of potential compromise is a shorter salary review date than the normal twelve-month period. If you have a six-month review period confirmed instead of twelve, this could reward the flexibility that you show on the base salary now.
- Some people consider vacation time more important than salary, this is
often the issue that employers will discuss in lieu of salary.
- How do you see the benefit of more free time versus more salary - what is
more important to you?
- What flexibility did they discuss with you in interviews or the recruiter's
- Some companies have very fixed vacation schedules and entitlements,
what flexibility do they have?
If you are accustomed to receiving 3 or 4 weeks vacation, and they are unable to give you that paid vacation time in the first year, are you able to obtain unpaid time off as a compromise? If the time off is more important to you than getting paid for it, this may be an area that you can compromise.
- How are the benefits premiums paid?
- What is the amount of pre-authorized withdrawal on a monthly basis?
- How do both the coverage and the cost of the coverage compare in
real dollar value and how does this reduce your take home pay?
As offers are usually brief documents, not every employer will clearly note the cost of their benefits program to you the employee. There may be a sentence saying that the details are to be found in the employee handbook. If you have access to a human resources representative then call that person and ask about the details. It is your right to know what you are committing to. Disregard the recruiter who tries to dissuade you from obtaining this information. Many hiring managers are unfamiliar with all of the details as well, the human resources department is your best source.
Probationary period waived for immediate benefits coverage:
- One compromise if salary and vacation are not open for further negotiations
is to have the customary 90-day probationary waiting period waived to go
on their benefits coverage immediately - especially useful for parents.
Statutory Holidays and Sick Days:
- Is the employer's coverage of statutory holidays noted?
- How does the sick days coverage compare with your present entitlement?
If you identify areas for discussion diplomatically you will rarely create a negative situation. If you sense resistance or experience outright negativity from the employer, this may be an indication of how they treat their employees and is food for thought when making a final decision.
In these economic conditions, it is tempting to overlook one or more issues in order to seal the deal. Wherever possible, try and clarify the terms of your offer and agreement. There may be more flexibility there for you.
Compromise and the willingness to be flexible is important in these times. You also owe it to yourself and those who count on you to explore whatever flexibility that the employer may have.