SECURE THE JOB YOU WANT & EXCEL
When the person conducting the hiring and you have agreed on the details of the job offer, it is usually a good idea to request that your duties and compensation be outlined in a letter or e-mail to you. If you are keen about the job, accept it with enthusiasm as soon as you receive such a letter or e-mail. Shake the person’s hand to accept his or her offer when you meet again in person.
In the event you are undecided about whether to accept a job offer, ask for up to one week to think it over. Before committing, you may want to request to meet the person you will be reporting to. Even after you have done all your homework and due diligence, the decision to accept a job offer still requires a certain leap of faith and courage on your part. You have to trust your instincts and judgment when you have done everything you can to make a well-informed decision.
Some organizations will ask you to sign the bottom of their job offer letter to acknowledge that you are accepting the position. For more senior jobs, you also may be asked to sign an employment contract that includes a confidentiality clause, an arbitration clause that requires both parties to resort to arbitration instead of the courts in the event of any disputes, a non-compete clause restricting your ability to work at a competing company in the future, and a termination clause covering the severance you are to receive in the event you are fired or laid-off. As you should do before committing to any legal agreement, ask a lawyer to look over the contract before you sign it so you fully understand its contents and the extent to which any restrictions are in fact enforceable or legally binding.
Be wary if you are being pressured to sign an employment contract on the spot. It may include clauses and restrictions that are unreasonably one-sided in favor of the employer. You may even want to attempt to request that a clause be changed or deleted. Also, be sure that the contract includes any major promises that were made to you, especially regarding your compensation and the reimbursement of any expenses.
Embarking upon your career is like going on a long journey with many destinations along the way. Hopefully, you have thought through how the job will help position you to be where you want to be career-wise three to five years from now. Ideally, you will be offered worthwhile opportunities for advancement in the future at this organization if you demonstrate excellent performance in your position.
Apart from gaining an income, the decisive factors for taking a position at an organization usually are one or more of the following:
The level of your starting salary should not necessarily be the most important factor in your decision, especially when you will be able to earn additional incentive compensation. If the starting salary is low, ask when performance and compensation reviews are held for your position. If the answer is annually, then request that your performance and compensation be reviewed in three or six month’s time. Also, attempt to gain some understanding of the organization’s compensation philosophy and the promotion opportunities available to you. Often, more important than your salary is whom you will be working for and the type of work and projects you will be engaged in.
The starting salary of my first job following completion of graduate business school was exactly one-half the average amount being paid to my peers but my new employers promised to review my performance and compensation at the end of each month. I took the job as I wanted to become involved in the field of real estate and was extremely impressed by the firm’s two partners and their approach to running the business. One year later, my salary was 200% higher.
After graduating from the same business school, a friend of mine decided he wanted to go into the cable TV business for himself when it was in its infancy. To learn the business, he took a relatively low-level position in the then-fledgling cable division of a major U.S. media company. His salary was negligible but after one year he had gained enough knowledge and experience to start up his own cable TV business in Canada where virtually no one knew anything about the industry. He used this advantage to build an extremely large and successful company. To say that he started out being totally committed to being a success in the cable TV business would be an understatement.
Two final notes of caution — it is rarely a good career decision to take a job which is not a good fit with what you want to do and the type of organization you want to work for. In order to perform well, you need to be excited about your job and what you can contribute to the success of where you work. Similarly, do not take a job if it involves having to work for someone you do not like, respect or trust. If your instincts warn you that such is the case or that you are going to have a difficult time working for someone, look for another job. Life is too short.
Appendix 1. Personal Worksheet Sample
Appendix 2. Résumé Sample
Appendix 3. Covering Letter Sample
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