Think before you say yes

By Charles Strachey

October 6, 2016 12:00 AM

Dear Working Wise:
I just turned down a job offer, because they wanted me to sign an agreement saying I wouldn’t work for one of their competitors for six months after leaving the company. This is the first time I’ve been asked to agree to these kinds of terms. What else should I be on the lookout for when negotiating a job offer?
Signed, Cautious
Dear Cautious:
Before you sign a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, you may want to consult with a lawyer to ensure the employer is not unfairly restricting your future career options.
When considering a job offer, you should also ensure you understand the offer and consider all the terms of employment such as hours, salary and benefits.
Get the offer in writing or take detailed notes of a verbal offer and then have the employer confirm the details via email or fax.
Find out when you will be working and for how long?
Will there be any shift work, overtime, or travel?
Is the overtime paid or unpaid?
Compensation
What is the salary or wage?
Are you eligible for any performance bonuses or commissions?
Are tips involved?
If so, will you be expected to share your tips with anyone else?
Are there scheduled salary increases and cost-of-living raises or do you have to negotiate each one? 
Other benefits
What about health and dental coverage, pensions or retirement savings programs, vacation, sick days, personal days, severance pay, employee wellness programs, vehicle allowance, daily living allowance (if travel is required), and parking?
Most employers expect you to think about the offer before you decide.
Let the employer know that you are interested in the job, and that you will make a decision within a specific period of time, e.g. one or two days maximum.
Evaluate the offer
If you are not sure how good the offer is, you can check it against industry standard salaries, benefits and working conditions by:
• Reviewing the Alberta Occupational Profiles available on the ALIS web site at www.alis.alberta.ca; and
• Looking at the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey on the ALIS web site.
If you are unsatisfied with the salary offered, but are still interested in the job, you might want to counter the employer’s offer.
Try suggesting other benefits like an extra week of vacation, free parking, or a better job title.
Careful, once you have accepted the job, it will be tough to negotiate changes to the offer.
If you are making a counter-offer, be prepared to explain why you are worth the extra pay or vacation time.
For more tips, read the Handing Job Offers tip sheet on the ALIS website alis.alberta.ca.
Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services.

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