Your stellar resume got you that all-important phone call. And you hit a home run during the interview with the recruiter. Now it’s crunch time—negotiations for salary and working conditions. Here are some things you should consider before accepting that tech job.
Beware the Recruiter’s Hard Sell
Recruiters are salespeople. Driven by tight deadlines, they’ll often “square peg” you in the wrong post to make their commission. They’ll dance around the job description and promise you’ll get a raise or bonus down the line if you just accept the employer’s lowball offer. The “sell” is to convince you it’s the best you can get right now—since you’re a college grad with little experience. Software engineer Lukasz Kujawa says the real intention is to make you invest time and emotion into the role to increase your chances of accepting the offer. Using the right language can make or break an opportunity, notes Cynthia Shapiro, career strategist and author of What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here? “If they say, ‘what are you looking to make’ you would say, ‘I would be willing to consider whatever your range is’ or if they throw out a range, you could say ‘for this job that I’m really excited about, that is something I would be willing to consider,” says Shapiro.
The Options Overture
To make up for a lowball salary, some companies will offer stock options. This is a tactic often used by small startups. It’s a promise to let you profit from the value that you’ll help create in working for them. To fully enjoy this benefit, you’ll need to be "vested" in the company, which means you need to stay with them for several years before you can exercise your options and buy stock. What options are they offering? What’s the vesting period? What happens when you leave the company? These details need to be spelled out in writing.
The “Conditional Salary” Sidestep
If the employer offers you a conditional salary, consider it a red flag rather than long green. Conditional means the company expects you, your group or the entire organization to reach certain goals—before you get that bigger paycheck. If you take such an offer, says Kujawa, be prepared to never receive the money. Goals might change, investments might never come, and you have no control over that.
Check Out Your Workplace
Too few IT job seekers ask to see their workplace. Check it out. You’re going to be spending the better part of your waking hours in that cubicle, so consider your desk, meeting areas, kitchen, and potentially annoying co-workers. Does daylight enter anywhere? Are you right next to the bathroom? Or beside a noisy printer or water cooler where employees come to gab? While you’re at it, check out your computer. If it’s ancient, Kujawa suggests you ask for a new one as a condition of employment. Once you sign the employment contract, it might be too late.
There are many landmines young IT job seekers need to be aware of and prepare for. Some can be deal breakers, others can be negotiated to improve the job.
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