When someone comes calling...
by Douglas E. Welch
May 19, 2000
© 2000, Douglas E. Welch
While most of us will never have to deal with job offers filled
with large stock options, company cars or housing allowances that
are used to entice tech superstars into jumping ship, we would
all do well to evaluate any job offer as if it where this dramatic.
Whenever another company courts you it is very important to perform
your "due diligence" before typing up your resignation letter.
Whenever you receive a job offer out of the blue your first goal
should be to find out as much about this company as possible.
This might mean dropping in on the new company unexpectedly, calling
the company in the role of a customer or visiting their web site.
If the offer includes large ticket items such as a signing bonus,
stock options or a company car you will need a clear understanding
of the company's finances. Are they making any profits? Do they
have a plan for becoming profitable? Are they planning an IPO?
When? How long will it be before your stock options vest? Through
your research you are trying to insure that the company has the
resources to follow through on any offer they make. A company
that is having trouble paying its bills will probably also have
trouble fulfilling its promises to you.
Talk to other knowledgeable industry people and get their opinion
on the company. When doing this, though, talk only about the company
not about your specific job offer. All of us have the capacity
to feel jealousy. You don't want someone's jealousy over your
"sweetheart" deal clouding their view of the company.
You can also turn to the Internet for one final dose of information.
While you will need to consider the source of anything you read
there, the Internet can help you gain a general feeling of how
the company is perceived by the public. A few customer complaints
can be a red flag that something is not quite right at the company.
Once you feel you have gathered enough information about the company,
you can start talking about the specific points of their offer.
As with any business deal, both sides must have a clear, unambiguous
understanding of each and every point or someone is going to be
unhappy. Don't rely on the goodwill of a company to protect you.
If you don't think an item is laid out clearly enough, rewrite
it until you feel comfortable.
Each and every item should include a detailed description of what
is to be accomplished (sometimes called a deliverable), when it
is to be accomplished, what the reward will be for meeting that
deliverable and when the reward will be paid. If the company has
guaranteed you a specific computer or other technology, when will
this equipment be available? The first day of work? In 2 weeks?
When? Will the company lease you a car? What make/model? When
will it be delivered? When must it be returned?
As job offers become more and more complex you might have to call
on someone who is more knowledgeable in these areas, perhaps a
lawyer or manager. Your goal, while somewhat impossible to achieve,
is to have no regrets about your decision 1, 5 or even 10 years
down the road. It may seem cliché, but dotting all the "I's" and
crossing all the "T's" can save you years of headaches down the
Finally, and most importantly, get everything in writing. Oral
promises lead to hours of employment litigation every year. While
written contracts can be contested they can prevent playing "he
said, she said" in front of a judge. It is always better to spend
the time today to insure that there are no misunderstandings tomorrow.
Whether a company is offering you a company car or merely a closer
parking space it is important to treat each offer seriously. You
will be making a large change in your life should you decide to
move to a new company. You want to be as sure as possible that
the perks luring you away are more than just high-tech hype.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/
He can reached via email at email@example.com