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10 Terms to Look for in Job Offer Letters

10 Terms to Look for in Job Offer Letters

You have gone through 7 circles of hell, or in other words, interview stages, and a desirable job offer is finally right in front of you! Your vision is blurred, you are on your last fight to sign the paper and breathe a sigh of relief. However, do not rush! A job offer is a legal and critical document, so you should be reading it carefully before signing. Firstly, employers are often reluctant to make changes in the job offer after it is signed. Secondly, although a job offer is not an employment contract itself, it still can provide employees with some guarantees regarding bonuses or downgrading your duties after taking the job. We have collected ten terms to look for in job offer letters to help you avoid pitfalls after accepting a long-awaited job offer.

Basic job information

For many people, this part seems simple and obvious. However, we do recommend reading it thoroughly, too. Basic job info has to include: the job title, all the responsibilities, the reporting system, and the date of your start. Besides, do pay attention to the expiration date when you should give your answer because we should all be respectful and appreciate people’s time.

Dates and times

Nothing can spoil your first impression more than if you miss your start date and time. Check it carefully, put it into your calendar, or set a reminder to be sure nothing will prevent you from achieving the destination on time. Furthermore, if you have any other arrangements planned, it would be a good idea to inform your employer and ask them to push the start date a bit forward.

Job responsibilities

If not to mention the salary, this is the core of a job offer. It is something you will have to be doing regularly, so it is not the time to kick back. Sometimes, recruiters misrepresent the responsibilities during the interview stages to get you more interested. Sometimes, the future boss might decide to downgrade you for personal reasons. Anyway, if you do not want to wake up one morning and deal with unexpected innovation, you should not neglect it at the very beginning.

Base salary

No doubt, this issue has been discussed numerous times during the interviews. However, watch out and stay vigilant till the end. The figure you have negotiated has to match up with the one on the paper. It is crucial to ensure that remuneration lives up to your expectations, so never turn a blind eye to any discrepancies in your offer. It might just be a mix-up from HR with no malicious intent, but you will be able to protect yourself from undesirable difficulties or proceedings in the future. In case the salary has not been fixed yet, but after seeing it in your offer, you feel disappointed or undervalued, the plan should be the same – speak up and let them know you are worth far more.

Guaranteed bonuses

In some organizations, the bonus system might be more appealing than the salary itself. In case it is not, still have a look at the guaranteed bonuses and make sure all the information is presented clearly and transparently. Any vague descriptions can cause a lot of hassle for you later, so do not hesitate to get them clearly stated. It is reasonable to ask HR to include the basics of target percentage, timing, and the main terms which guarantee the bonus, either annual or monthly. It is way easier to battle out your money if you have them written in your document.

Discretionary bonuses

The main difference between a discretionary bonus and a guaranteed one is that it is up to the boss to decide whether to give it or not. There are no specific terms, like exceeding the productivity plan or performance, which a worker should fulfill to qualify for this bonus. Besides, an employee is not usually expecting it to be given, therefore it is a pleasant addition rather than a goal. One more distinguishing feature of discretionary bonuses is that they, as a rule, do not need to be included in overtime pay, thus eliminating the burden of additional recalculations.

Deferred compensation

Great opportunity for those who would like to have some tax benefits! Deferred compensation provides a possibility to hold some portion of a salary for some time and get it in the future. It usually happens to employees who retire as they have a chance to get in a lower tax bracket and therefore save some money. However, there is another side of the moon. Firstly, such compensation plans work better for high earners. Secondly, if a company faces bankruptcy, a person is highly likely to lose all the money.

Other benefits

Different companies try to stand out with the help of really quirky benefits. Does anybody still get high from free snacks and exotic fruit on Fridays? We bet nobody. You’ll probably love unlimited sick leaves, financial literacy programs, sleep pods after lunch, diaper subscriptions, and even “fur-turnity” leaves! These companies seem to relate to their employees, don’t they? You should find something like this in your offer; otherwise, why would you like to work for them?

At-will employment

This one is tricky. It authorizes your boss to get you sacked at any moment. And it may not even have any grounds at all. Luckily, there are some exceptions like discrimination, revenge, prejudice, and other illegal things. On the flip side, you have the same right, as your boss, to quit anytime and for no good reason.

Mandatory arbitration

Do you tend to be a peace campaigner or fight for justice to the bitter end? Anyway, mandatory arbitration is designed to bring peace to a conflict by the assistance of a neutral third party, instead of applying to court and suing. Might sound good, right? However, watch out because you can be dragged into some legal hassles and face a case when your employer is being reluctant to solve the issues which arose between you two. Just ensure that you clearly understand these agreements and their possible implications if they are in your job offer.

Non-compete clause

A non-compete agreement is more about the employer, not the employee. This term implies the employee’s agreement not to compete with the company for some time after having quit it. It can be applied either to the field or a specific region where the ex-employer is located. Yes, you got it right. A non-compete clause deprives the ex-employee of seeking new employment opportunities in their field until the contract expires. However, they can move to another geographic area or change their specialization. What can be done about it? Take this term very seriously and make sure it does not cross your boundaries.

Non-solicit agreements

One more issue that benefits the employer, not the employee, though it is not as severe as the previous one. Everything depends on your personal goals after leaving your workplace. If you got sick and tired of working for somebody and handling numerous boss’s quirks, you may consider setting up your own business or turning into a freelancer. For the past several years you have established trustworthy relations with the clients or your colleagues, and why not try continuing your cooperation with them? A wonderful choice! Still, remember to check your previous contract for this term. Otherwise a fine will not keep you waiting.

Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements

This basic thing guarantees confidentiality. We are sometimes tempted to share some spicy details regarding the project, financial nuances, or other internal matters with our friends or relatives. It might be just innocent fun for us, but a tiny-tiny leak of confidential information can end up your company having hard times. Are you ready to shoulder this responsibility? If the answer is no, you had better read the NDA part carefully and at least figure out which aspects of your company’s disclosure should be kept under lock and key. The outcome of you being that reckless may well be the same as in the previous paragraph.

Date: 25 March 2022
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