Category Archives: job offers

The dilemma for daddies to be (and some mommies too), part 2

momdadbabyI guess I should have called the first post, “The dilemma for daddies to be, (and some mommies too), so I corrected my error. In the last post we talked about how impending fatherhood can be as much of a tricky dilemma as  for expectant mothers. Obviously it is easier for dads to delay the discussion a little longer than moms and not be subjected to any possible discrimination in that regard. The exception of course are moms to be who are adopting, and hopefully they can get some useful information out of this too.

Let’s break down some scenarios and talk about what may be some solutions:

You are expecting a child fairly soon and are interviewing for a position. When do I tell the prospective employer?

If you are having the initial discussions with people (recruiters, hiring managers, etc) and have not gotten into serious interviewing and they tick off some standard questions, one of them is usually “if you were to be offered a position here and you decided to accept it, when could you be available to start?” Things are in the early stages here and I see no reason to show your hand about anything yet. I would respond with what you would normally respond with, depending on your current work circumstance. If you are working, you must say you can’t start for at least 2 weeks after you accept and give notice. If you say anything less, it is a red flag for future employers about your professionalism and loyalty, but that’s a different discussion.

If through further discussions, you find that there is a very good chance the timing will coincide, you will need to evaluate telling versus the opportunity and how you feel they may react.

When I do think it is appropriate to bring it up is when you have completed first, second or more rounds of interviews as dictated by their process and the feedback is all pointing to you getting an offer. They will usually start talking about more specific start dates.

How do I bring it up?

You want to make it seem like an easy issue to resolve, first and foremost. I would say “since we started speaking about the job, some timetables have come into play with regard to my (partner/wife/birth mother) giving birth. As we all know the due date is not always accurate but I will need x time off prior to the baby arriving and x time off after the baby arrives. I am very interested in the position and believe I am a great candidate. I also will do as much self-learning about my duties while I am out as I can (don’t commit if you don’t think you can do that!) as to minimize my ramp up time. I hope this does not affect my candidacy for this position”

It would be best if you could also get this statement and their response in an email. Although it would be hard to prove that they passed on you because of this, it’s harder to do so if they emailed you their commitment to be OK with your situation.

Shouldn’t I just wait for when I get the official offer, that way it would be harder for them to pull it back?

Yes, it would be harder and they could open themselves up for discriminatory practices claims if they did, but is this the way you want to start things off with them? They will feel slightly deceived but will still commit to the offer and that perception may not go away ever. Will this affect future opportunities from within the company? Once there is a little distance from you getting back to work, will they start the search again because they have trust issues with you? Just some food for thought.

OK, next post will be the dilemma about accepting a less than desirable role because you feel you need to be working at all costs!


Hey Recruiter, I thought you were on my side! Part II of III

perplexed2We have spoken about the circumstances around recruiters being less than cooperative with candidates and the many reasons. Yes, sometimes it is just perception on the candidate’s part that a recruiter is not acting in good faith as I outlined in the last couple posts, but  sometimes there is shared culpability.

Today let’s talk about the candidate taking preventative steps to insure themselves against an unresponsive or adversarial recruiter.

The first step is pretty basic but not always easy. When you have initial recruiter conversations, try your best to identify from the recruiter who will make the ultimate hiring decision. This is not someone in HR (unless you are going for a job in HR or a dept. that is overseen by HR) who may approve the amount of the job offer, but the person who truly has the power to say “let’s hire her/him!”

Recruiters will sometimes keep this info close to the vest for a couple reasons: A. They are doing their job in protecting the hiring manager from being harassed by candidates too early in the game when they haven’t yet been identified as viable or B. They have the fear of being circumvented and risk their performance being called into question.

So either way it’s not easy to get if you are only at the phone interview stage. It gets easier if you move into the in-person interview stage where you will usually get a lineup of who you will be meeting with and if you don’t get a direct answer you can usually figure it out from titles (whomever the senior most manager is usually the ultimate decision maker.) If this doesn’t work, the next way is ask who you phone interview with from the hiring team, they will be more apt to be forthcoming about the info. Maybe not the actual name but title. If you don’t have a phone interview and go straight to in-person, identify someone on the interview team who you seem to have a good rapport with to ask.

OK, I am going to leave it there. My wife has correctly observed I have the tendency to go long so I will finish this up tomorrow. I’ll talk about what to do with the information you obtained (the real decision maker), and also having an honest conversation with yourself to see if it warrants trying to go above the recruiter.

The “Counter (offer)” Punch

punchYou have just dropped the bombshell news on your boss that you are leaving. After they pick themselves up off the floor, there will usually be one of three reactions:

  1. Congratulations, good for you!
  2. Traitor! Pack your stuff and get out (or work through your notice and endure my constant looks of contempt)
  3. Sorry to hear that, is there anything we can do to keep you here?

1 is the best outcome. 2 is not comfortable, but you are a grown up and can deal with immature people. 3 is the worst. It means that they are not accepting your resignation and think that this is just an invitation to negotiate.

When you resign you need to say unequivocally that you thought long and hard about this new opportunity – you ARE taking it and you ARE leaving. No ambiguity, no mincing of words and no backpedaling! If the boss still throws option #3 at you, you must make it clear that your decision is final and you would not entertain a counter offer. If you don’t do that, that will create the opportunity for them to guilt you into staying. If you are thinking of opening the door to a counter offer, think about these points then decide if you want to listen to what they have to say.
I would be amazed if you could.

  • You looked elsewhere for a reason, will whatever they counter with (money, promotion, etc.) really make you happy and satisfied with your career?
  • Are you going to have to find another job and threaten to quit every time you feel you deserve a raise or some other recognition?
  • You have let it be known that you were looking elsewhere, they know you are a flight risk and are going to try and keep you around until they find a replacement.
  • The great majority of people who accept counteroffers are not working at that job 6 months after accepting the counter offer (either voluntarily or not.)
  • You accepted another offer somewhere else and now have to go back and retract your acceptance. Are you ready to burn that bridge? More than likely if you try to go back after rescinding your acceptance you will be turned away. You have revealed a character flaw and there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle.

Just some things to think about. Like ending any relationship, or pulling off a band-aid, you need to get through some initial discomfort. This will quickly pass and you will see that you did the right thing. Just remember why you did all this, and that will keep you guided in the right direction when confronted with the counter offer discussions.

I got a new job! Oh, I have to tell them I’m quitting this one?

resignThat euphoric feeling of accepting a new position can quickly leave when you start to think about the prospect of having to go to your current boss and give notice. Mostly because you probably have a decent relationship with she or he and your co-workers, so it will be a bittersweet departure. Even if you absolutely despise everything about your job, it still can be tough.

The best way to approach this is head on. Make sure you are giving proper notice time of at least 2 weeks. Schedule a meeting with your boss the very next morning from when you finalize the new job if it is going to be just 2 weeks notice with not a lot of time to spare.  Let them know when you ask for the meeting it is time sensitive and that you need to speak that day.

When meeting with your boss, keep it professional and upbeat. Explain that you have accepted an offer with another company and will be leaving on said date. Be unequivocal in your tone (I have accepted and I am leaving, this is my final decision.) Don’t dance around it to soften the news of you leaving: “I am thinking taking this offer”,or “I got another job offer and it looks pretty good.” This leaves the door open for them to try and convince you to stay, or worse yet that you are not actually giving an official notice just “thinking out loud.” I will talk about that in the next post (counteroffers.)

There is no real need to give any more explanation than that. If they ask, you can decide what you want to divulge. I usually kept it vague. The new company is giving me a better opportunity to reach my career goals, the hours are flexible, commute is more desirable.  Do not make disparaging remarks about the company you are leaving, co-workers or boss of any kind. Do not reveal salary information. If you have things you want to share that are negative, that is a separate discussion with HR in an exit interview or a one on one with them.

If you feel your boss is putting you off or taking too much time to schedule a meeting, then you should compose a resignation letter and give it to HR. You should do that anyway, but I usually give it to them after the discussion with my supervisor. You can email your boss and explain that time was of the essence in order to do the right thing and that you had no choice since you couldn’t meet with them. Your resignation letter again should be short and sweet:

Dear HR Person,

I regret to inform you that I am resigning my position as Sales Representative at Acme Widgets, effective xx/xx/xxxx.

I have truly enjoyed my time here and wish Acme Widgets the best of luck in the future.



That’s all you need to write.  After you give notice, your boss may try to convince you to stay. I will talk in the next post how even entertaining that discussion is a bad idea.

How to Handle “The Offer”

offerAlright, you have cleared all the hurdles and the company calls you and wants to tender an offer. “How should I handle this?”

Well, most of the time the person authorized to offer you a job will give a verbal offer over the phone. Basically it will be a high level summation of the offer:

  1. Job Title
  2. Base Salary
  3. Bonus Plan
  4. Anticipated Start Date

These are usually the biggest sticking points to whether an offer is accepted or not so they like to get these things agreed to “in principle” before writing out the official written offer letter. If these 4 points are agreeable to you, then you need to enthusiastically say “I conditionally accept, but would like to see the written offer and any other documents I need to sign.” If you haven’t seen a detailed benefits sheet of what the company offers and what any out of pocket costs there may be, get one because they affect your total compensation. For example, you are getting a bump in pay of $5000 per year but your health insurance is going to cost you $500 a month more, it is a net decrease in compensation of $1000 a year. Also see what the company matches for 401(k) vs. current match. Maybe any new costs that you don’t have with your current job:

  • Longer commute
  • Pay for parking or public transportation
  • New child care expenses because of new hours or longer commuting distance
  • Current employer was paying for your education and new company offers no tuition reimbursement
  • If you are relocating, relocation reimbursement and cost of living differences

There are a bunch more but these are some major ones. I know it is an old fashioned thing, but write down all the pay and cash value of current benefits on one side of a piece of paper and one for the new offer on the other, or do some excel spreadsheet comparison and see what the total compensation would come out to be. Sometimes you can live with a net decrease for the right opportunity, and sometimes not.

If these 4 major points are not agreeable, you need to discuss it right then and there. The whole “can I think about it/talk to my spouse/discuss with my dog and call you tomorrow” and then come back with new demands is a little off putting for the hiring company. If you know what you want and everything looks good or could with a minor tweak, say it then and get it finalized. The last thing you want to get into is a contentious negotiation with people you are going to be working with/for. The thing that companies will be most flexible about is start date, as long as it is reasonable. Don’t come back to them and say, “oh I forgot to tell you I am going on vacation to the Himalayas for 2 months next week.”  Sometimes there are acceptable reasons for having to be highly flexible about start dates due to circumstances beyond your control:

  • Birth of a child
  • Critically ill family member

The thing they are least flexible about is pay. You should have been on the same page as them on pay before you even got to the offer stage, so if the offer is way low, there is a mis-management of expectations on one or both sides. If it isn’t going to kill you, don’t come back and ask for another 1 or 2K in base pay a year. It looks like they gave you a fair offer and you are just trying to squeeze every dime you can. I have more than once pulled offers on people who tried to “wheel and deal.”

Alright, so let’s go on the assumption we are agreed in principle to the verbal terms of the offer. Ask them to email you a recap of the verbal offer (not an official written offer, but just a reiteration of what you discussed) to make sure there is no mis-communication on the phone as to the numbers, etc. As soon as that is done and everything matches up, get right back to them and ask for the the written offer with all the other necessary paperwork to sign:

  • Non Compete or Non Disclosure agreements (don’t sign an offer letter before reading this!!)
  • A release for a background check and what exactly is checked (credit, work history, education, criminal, drug) all of these are perfectly acceptable for an employer to investigate, with your approval.
  • Any other documents about patents or inventions that you previously claim and your continued ownership therein

Make sure that the non compete is not super-restrictive or unfair in case you should be let go or leave on your own. What they usually want to protect themselves from is you going after their competition, revealing confidential company information, recruiting their employees. This is OK and fair of them to ask you to agree to. What they CANNOT do is restrict your ability to earn a living in your chosen line of work. For instance, you sell a software product. That’s what you have done for the last 15 years. They can’t make you sign something that says you can’t go to work for a company that sells software; it is too broad of a brush to paint. They may say you can’t sell software to our clients that you learned about while working here or hire our sales people to work with you for 2 years after you leave. So make sure you read the details of the NCA or NDA. If possible ask someone who knows employment law or law in general to peruse. Most lawyers, no matter what their specialty can read any contract and interpret the legalese to ascertain its true intent.

If it has objectionable language as to any prior inventions, patents, etc. you need to discuss that. Usually they will acquiesce to your requests. Know that most companies view any inventions you came up with when you are employed by them as their ownership and usually will prevail on that if it came down to it.

On the background check, understand exactly what will be checked and how long they go back in your sordid life :-). The average time is 5-7 years. If you have been out of college for 10 years and got rounded up with a bunch of other drunken fools in Fort Lauderdale on spring break it is probably not an issue. If you have something that you feel will come up (DUI, felony conviction), get it out in the open before the check is conducted so there are no surprises and you know it won’t be a deal-breaker. Do not lie on your work history or education, most good checking companies will find it out. If it is a simple misunderstanding you will usually get a chance to explain should it come up.

As to credit checks, a lot of people ask me why companies do this and why is it their business? It actually makes good sense to run a credit check as long as there is ample opportunity for the employee to explain the negative marks. If you are going to be in a position of having access to the company’s finances or you have power to make big money decisions, an adverse credit report that states significant debt or financial hardship could make you a candidate for bribery or embezzlement. Companies have been burned many times by this so they are justified in their request to check this. What they should let you explain is the reason for debt or default on loans, etc. You lost your job, you had to leave your job to care for an ill family member, you yourself got ill and couldn’t work or had to pay for medical treatment out of your own pocket because it was not covered by health insurance. There are a lot of legitimate reasons for a bad credit report and being up front and open is the way to make it a non-issue.

Finally, the offer itself. It may seem like there is a lot of scary language within the offer itself,  but most of it is just boiler plate. In Massachusetts, where I live, it is an “employment at will” state. That means that a company can terminate you for any or no reason with or without notice. The offer letter is not an employment contract either explicit or implied unless otherwise stated in the offer or separate contract. This is normal.  Of course, if you feel a company let you go unfairly or in a discriminatory fashion, you are perfectly entitled to pursue a claim with the State. Many people say “They can axe me anytime without notice, but they want me to give 2 weeks notice. That’s not fair, is it?” Yes and no. Sometimes they feel giving notice of termination to an employee can be detrimental to the company, if it is performance related. They could cause many problems. Voluntary resignations to go to another company usually don’t cause that kind of  risk, and that’s why they ask for the 2 week notice to transition and fill your role.

Just know, they only request you give 2 weeks notice. You are under no obligation to do so but I highly recommend it. You don’t want to burn references with co-workers. In many sales positions, most companies will show you the door anyway when you give your notice – so be prepared to pack up your desk and leave your email inbox behind right then. Also know – it is completely ILLEGAL for companies to withhold your pay if you don’t give notice. Any pay you have earned cannot be withheld unless you made an agreement to pay back any signing bonuses or relocation expenses should you leave voluntarily within a stated amount of time.

Note, all these things are just “general guidelines”, every state has their own employment laws and you should know the laws of your state or consult an employment law attorney if you have questions.

I know we got into a lot of deeper subjects, but offers are important things and need to be approached with the scrutiny you would use to buy a car or house.

Next time we will discuss giving notice and how to handle counter-offers.