Finding the right job can take a lot of time and effort. Although many positions result only in a job offer, others can come with a proposed employment contract.
When this happens, you need to understand what is in the contract. You do not want to be taken advantage of. You also do not want to put yourself in a position where you can unknowingly breach the contract.
Employment contracts are negotiable
An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer.
In short, you agree to work for your employer and your employer agrees to pay you. But employment contracts are often more complicated than that. They can include provisions that should be negotiable. Before you sign, keep these issues in mind.
- Your pay: It sounds simple enough, but if your job is important enough to warrant a contract, there is probably room to negotiate. Know what you are worth based on your education, training, and experience so you know how aggressive you can be.
- Your benefits: Benefits can increase the value of your job. Retirement accounts, vacation days and exceptional health coverage can make up for a lower-than-expected salary. Inform yourself about what similar companies offer their employees so you can negotiate as needed.
- How and when you want to work: With more companies trying to provide their employees with greater work-life balance, consider whether you want to negotiate a specific schedule or work arrangement. Remote work, at least for part of your schedule, may be a realistic ask that an employer is willing to accommodate. The same may be true for a shorter workweek with longer hours over the span of three or four days.
- The length of the contract: This will dictate how long you will be subject to the contract’s terms. Be realistic about your aspirations and where you see yourself in the future. Do not agree to something you’re uncomfortable with simply because you need a job or want a job with a particular company.
- Job duties: This is where the employer is going to specify what it wants you to do over the course of the contract. Understand the duties and clarify anything that seems overly general or burdensome. Clarity here can be beneficial to both you and your employer.
- Non-compete clauses: Many employers create employment contracts to restrict their employee’s use of confidential information. In many instances, a non-compete clause will disallow you from working in a particular field, within a certain geographic scope, for a specified period of time. Again, keep your future in mind. If a non-compete clause seems too restrictive, you may want to negotiate it or even turn down the offer.
- Dispute settlement: Contracts often specify how disputes will be resolved. It may specify arbitration or mediation.
It can be exciting to land the job you have been seeking. Do not just jump at the first offer you receive. Instead, think about how you can negotiate and receive what you deserve.