You’re in demand and the offers are flying. Now it’s time to tie up all the loose ends.
You’re skilled up in how to negotiate a great salary package. But should you actually take the job? And, what about the contract? The last thing you want is lawyers at fifty paces when it comes time for you to leave.
There are critical issues to consider here and career ‘life skills’ to master. Don’t drop your guard just yet.
A few years ago, I worked with a client, Dimitri, who won a role with one of the most notorious organisations in Adelaide. He received plenty of warnings but he chose to ignore them and accepted the role. Dimitri lasted just under 3 months there and then had to start his job search all over again. He was not a happy chappy, as you can imagine!
Don’t let your excitement over receiving an offer keep you from seeing it objectively. Job change decisions are complex. The immediate results of a choice are easily identified and quantified, but the more important long-term ramifications require research, interpretation, and a bit of conjecture.
Then, once you’ve decided, don’t fall at the last hurdle. An employment contract is an essential part of protecting the interests of both you and the organisation. You need to get it right!
TIP #1: MAKE SURE YOU’LL BE WORKING WITH GOOD PEOPLE.
This is not as obvious as it seems. Few job candidates insist on exploring an organisation in enough depth to get a good idea of who they’ll be living with day in, day out.
Too often, the person who hires you is one of only a few people you meet at an organisation before you start to work there. Never assume an organisation’s personality and character match that of the manager who’s hiring you. Once hired, you’ll probably spend more time with people you’ve never met than with the person who hired you – and you’ll be affected by the decisions these people make.
To assess the ‘fit’ of the people in the company, dig deeper. Explore the depths. Taking a job is a little like deciding whether to marry someone. The more of his (or her) friends you meet, the more likely you’ll know what you’re getting into.
1. Tap into your networks and do a search online for the key players in the organisation.
LinkedIn is an excellent starting point to identify contacts who can give you valuable information about your target.
2. Ask to meet the key players before you accept the role.
Many organisations will be surprised when you make this request prior to accepting an offer. That’s why it’s sometimes best to wait until they’ve made a solid commitment to you. Once you have the offer, you have more control and they’re less likely to refuse.
3. Probe for character.
Meeting the key players will quickly help you see what life will be like on a job. You don’t want to accept an appealing job, only to find that the people you work with are inept, unmotivated or unenthusiastic – or that they have a completely different work ethic.
TIP #2: DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE ON THE ORGANISATION
Complete your due diligence to assess whether it’s the right place for you to work. Separate fact from opinion. Don’t gamble on your first impressions.
1. Talk to the people who depend on the organisation for their own success.
Track down and talk with the organisation’s customers, vendors and competitors. Each of them will give you a different perspective on the business.
2. Search the professional and business media for information.
See what the press has to say about them. You’ll quickly identify the trends, and you’ll develop questions to ask management. Web sites like Glassdoor.com which provide you with insight directly from former employees are a great source of information.
3. Assess the match with your values.
Take some time to think about your personal values and those of the organisation. What qualities are important to you in a prospective employer? Do your values align with theirs? Is your prospective employer active in supporting the causes that matter most to you?
Most organisations provide information about their vision, values and principles on their website. It might also be a good idea to check out their corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, which outlines what it’s doing to maintain its values.
4. While you’re talking to employees, probe the organisation’s character.
Ask each employee how well the organisation lives up to its espoused values. Check about management’s ‘reward’ practices – do they acknowledge good performers with raises, promotions, new projects and exciting work?
5. Do an organisation health check.
Post-Covid, flexibility is the new Black. Whether it’s working from home, a compressed week or variable start/finish times, many of us want flexibility in our schedules.
It is also important to feel comfortable in the environment that you’re going to be working in. For example, one of my clients realised there was no way she could accept a Customer Service role, despite the decent salary, when she was told that she had to ask permission to use the bathroom.
TIP #3: CHECK THAT THE ORGANISATION PRODUCES A GOOD PRODUCT OR SERVICE
Judge an organisation on what it delivers and on how happy its customers are, because that’s what will pay your salary and provide you with more work. If the product or service isn’t a good one, neither is the job offer.
1. Compare the service or product to similar products.
You can also try to benchmark the product against itself. What did it look like a year ago? How has it evolved to meet the needs of customers? Does it demonstrate that it’s a long-term player in its industry? Go back over recent Annual Reports to spot trends.
2. Check the support.
How much does the organisation spend on R&D? On training? Does the organisation develop its ‘people assets’ as aggressively as it develops technology?
TIP #4. RESEARCH THE ROLE
Read the job description and person specification again. You need to feel confident that the work itself is something that you want to do, and that it will give you satisfaction.
1.Check their expectations.
It’s important to be certain of exactly what will be expected of you, and that those expectations are realistic. If the job specification seems too long or too short, or if it doesn’t match up to the job title, you might need to go back to the HR department for further clarification.
TIP #5: DELAY YOUR RESPONSE AND MANAGE AMBIGUITY
Don’t accept an offer on the spot. Express your appreciation and strong interest in the job. Request at least 24 hours to consider it, even when you intend to say ‘Yes.’ Job Search is not always straight-forward. You may have queries, multiple offers or you may want to turn down an offer. Finesse is the key here.
1. Make a list of the pros and cons of the job offer.
Assess the job offer in terms of your needs, benefits, and long-term career and life goals.
2. Communicate with clarity.
If you want the job, make it clear. If you’re uncertain, state there are some items you’d like to discuss before you can accept the job. Suggest a further meeting to talk about the offer.
3. Juggle multiple offers skillfully.
Unless the immediate offer is for your ideal job, this is the time to get on the phone and obtain an up-to-date reading on all the situations that are in flux. If your skilful push accelerates negotiations with one or more of your prospects, then the question is whether it is practical and prudent to delay your response to your first job offer while you bring one of the others to a close.
4. Keep the door open with the first employer.
The organisation that has made you an offer may take offence if they sense that you are negotiating with others. However, sometimes a prospective employer may be willing to let you have plenty of time to make a final decision.
5. Factor in the risks.
This sort of delaying action requires judgement and a bit of luck. At some point, you may have to accept or reject the offer in hand and bear the consequences.
6. Refuse gracefully if you decide to decline the offer.
Even when saying ‘No,’ leave the door open to negotiation. (Do not use this to negotiate a higher wage. When you decline a role, be ready to lose the job forever.) It could be that six months from now, they will remember you favourably when a different job comes up.
TIP #6: GET THE EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT RIGHT
Once you’ve decided on a role, the final critical skill relates to your employment contract.
Don’t shy away from fighting for an employment contract that fully protects your interests. The whole point of having a contract of employment is to provide certainty in what is invariably a complex business relationship.
Indeed, an astute employer will recognise that your ability to look after your own interests will hopefully translate into an ability to fight for the organisation’s interests.
1. Check whether the terms and conditions are reasonable.
Many employment contracts are constructed to protect the employer and may cause you considerable harm e.g. what prohibitions or penalties will prevent you from joining a competitor? If the contract provides for termination ‘for cause’, what would constitute adequate cause?
2. Protect yourself from takeovers, redundancy or acquisitions.
Aim for your employment contract to contain a clause which guarantees you a relatively painless landing if you get merged out of a job.
3. Consider other professional advisors such as an accountant or tax lawyer.
If your package includes complex programs (stock, benefits, etc.), it’s advisable to check with experts before you make your final decision.
Choices have consequences
Whatever decision you make will have a ripple effect on most areas of your life. You’re likely to switch jobs every four to five years on average. So, being able to identify whether a role and an organisation is right for you and then negotiating a favourable employment contract are critical skills:
- When it comes to evaluating the offer, don’t fall in love with being loved. Separate out any wooing you receive from the prospective employer. Do your homework, stand back from the situation and talk to wise people in your life. And then make a sensible decision.
- And, in regard to contract negotiation, the only safety net is the one you negotiate yourself.
Putting an employer and a complex employment contract under this kind of scrutiny takes a lot of thought, research and time spent talking with the people who will affect your future.
Moving to another employer will invariably involve certain risks. You need to do what you can to minimise these risks and optimise the benefits.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here. You’ll be the first to hear about our updates once a fortnight!