Taking your time
by Douglas E. Welch
June 25, 1999
If you have been offered any high-tech job recently you will have
noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate
job offers. There are so many issues involved today. Everything
from health care to retirement plans to signing bonuses to stock
options. Too often we are so happy to be offered a job that we
fail to take the time to thoroughly consider all the aspects of
the offer. It is in our best interest to understand an offer fully
before we say "Yes."
Too often companies will play on your eagerness and try to force
a quick acceptance of the position. Resist making any commitment
until you understand what is being offered and any pitfalls that
might be involved. I have often used the excuse of having to confer
with my wife before making any decisions. This gives me time to
evaluate the job offer and also has the advantage of being true.
We should never make decisions without the input of our significant
other. They have to live with a new job as much as we do.
A company that is rushing you to accept the job is playing on
your insecurity. Don't allow them this advantage. If a company
wants you enough to make you an offer they can wait until you
are reasonably sure that this is the position for you. You must
decide if their rush is an eagerness to fill the position or an
effort to hide some flaw in the job offer. It is rare that a company
is directly trying to hid something but it can happen.
In the past a company either provided health care or they didn't.
There was no need to talk about deductibles, HMO's, Co-payments
and the like. Today these are all important issues that should
be known before you accept any job. In one case, I found out,
after accepting a position, that a full 10% of my salary would
be deducted for health care costs. This required me to re-negotiate
my starting salary the first week on the job. Not exactly a good
way to start out. I should have known this information before
I accepted but I was willing to make assumptions in my eagerness
to have the job.
Stock options are becoming a large selling point in many high-tech
companies. These options allow an employee to buy stock at a given
price (usually much lower than the current price) if they remain
at the company for a set period of time. You may have read about
the "Microsoft millionaires" whose stock options made them rich.
Unfortunately, there is a down side to these options. Not all
companies survive long enough to vest these options. Also, you
mind find yourself trapped in a job you hate just so that you
can "vest" your options.
Some employees of Qualcomm, Inc. recently found another downside
of stock options. When Qualcomm, Inc.sold a division of the company
some employees found that their options were rendered null and
void. The on-going legal battle may change that, but it should
remind you that not all job benefits offered may bear fruit.
Get my agent on the phone
Evaluating job offers is becoming more and more difficult every
day. When you add in the cutting edge offers including signing
bonuses, company cars and other perks it is almost beyond the
ability of your average person. When other industries became this
complex it led to the rise of agents. While I hope this doesn't
happen in high-tech careers for a long time there can be certain
benefits in acting like your own agent.
Try to evaluate job offers as if they were for another person,
a relative or a friend. Disassociate yourself and your ego from
the job offer and see what questions arise. Write those questions
down and call the person offering you the job. Work your way through
the list until you are satisfied that all your questions have
Most of all, suppress the worry that asking questions will cause
you to lose the job. In reality, if the job offer is withdrawn
it is a clear sign that it wasn't right for you. As long as you
make your decision within a reasonable amount of time (I would
say 1 week is probably maximum) the company should be willing
to wait. Conversely, if you know the job is not right for you,
tell the company as soon as possible. They will appreciate the
quick response and may still consider you for an upcoming opening
that better suits your desires and their needs.
The days of accepting a job on the spot are gone. High-tech companies
are becoming too complex to make snap decisions. You will be living
with a job for (hopefully) a long time to come, so make sure that
everything is arranged to your satisfaction. When a company makes
an offer they already believe that you are right for the job.
You need to take the time to make sure the job is right for you.
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