Navigating the Offer

You ace the interview and get a call or possibly an on the spot offer for the job. You want to leap to a yes but make sure you know what you are signing up for. Use these tips to help you accept with confidence:

Set Expectations and Get A Written Offer.

You may have had many conversations with the hiring manager, or it may have been a whirlwind from application to offer. Either way, give yourself time to review and understand your offer.

  1. Begin by thanking them and acknowledge that you are interested in the position.
  2. Ask them to send you a written offer and/or a copy of the employment contract.
  3. Express that you will need a few days to review the offer before accepting.
  4. State when you would like to schedule a follow-up call or when your answer will be ready.

This may be scary to do, but it can help you avoid being surprised or having buyer’s remorse later. In an article from Business Insider, Debra Wheatman C.P.R.W. and certified careers coach at Careers Done Write states, “A company that's hiring for the right reasons will interview multiple candidates and will issue an offer to the person they want to bring on. Then, they'll allow you to take the time to think about your next steps instead of making you decide immediately.” In the end, both you and the employer should want this to be a good fit, so it is okay to take a moment.

What Should Be Included?

Your offer letter or contract will likely include:

  • Your job description
  • salary information
  • benefits
  • paid time-off
  • work schedule

It may also reference other documents or an Employee Handbook, be sure that you have a copy of all these documents before accepting the offer. Important details such as termination and non-compete clauses are often buried in these documents.

What To Watch Out For?

Make sure to read the contract but look for the following:

The termination clause is not the first thing that you want to think about when getting a job but not reading it can lead to challenges in the future, such as potential client abandonment. It is important to know under what terms you can leave a position and what ramifications may exist for not taking the right steps.

For instance, if you are taking a travel assignment. There should be clear language about the length of the assignment, under what conditions you can walk away, and what are the ramifications for ending an assignment. For some travel assignments, your contract may end at the end of the assignment. Be sure to confirm whether the contract continues, and you have assured placement after each assignment.

A salary and raise schedule will tell you what you will be paid and when raises are assessed. If you are hired as a Clinical Fellow (CF) or extern, make sure there is language that addresses if your rate changes when your fellowship or externship ends and when that new rate will go into effect. If you are paid hourly or per visit, see if there is a guarantee on the minimum number of hours to ensure a full-time salary, if employed full time. Also, there should be a clause that addresses what happens if the primary site of employment is unable to provide adequate work hours (e.g., due to low building census).

A non-compete clause can limit your options while you’re under contract and possibly for years after your contract ends. Depending on the non-compete clause, it may also prevent you from working with other clients or in a geographic area. If you are hired through a staffing agency, does the non-compete clause limit you being hire by your primary location directly? You might fall in love with your assignment and want to work for them directly, but limitations in the contract may prevent you from doing so. Learn more about non-compete clauses, new regulations, and ASHA guidance.

Probationary language may make you a temporary employee for a period before you become a permanent employee. It should list when the period ends.

Reviewing Your Offer

Once you have reviewed everything, make sure that the offer matches everything that you discussed and meets your needs. During the interview process, the interviewer may have made verbal agreements to salary or vacation time or offered a sign-on and relocation bonus, but it may not have made it to the final contract. This is something that should be in writing before you accept the offer. Ask the hiring manager to revise your offer and include anything you discussed earlier or anything that had been in the job listing but isn’t mentioned in the offer.

Then, compare the offer to your list of deal breakers. For instance, are the salary and benefits, what you expected? If not, do a little research to see if the salary offer is fair or if the benefits add to the value of the offer. There are times that salaries are dictated by union bargaining agreements, so make sure to review those as well.

Sometimes a salary offer is lower, but the value of the benefits offset the difference. According to Forbes, employer-paid benefits can increase the value of your wages by nearly 47%. An employee earning $24.72 per hour receives an average of $11.50 in benefits per hour. Receiving certain benefits could increase the value of your compensation package, as follows:

  • Health Insurance ($5,000 - $30,000)
  • Dental Insurance ($1,500 - $4,500)
  • Retirement Plan (2% – 6% of your salary)
  • Disability Insurance ($2,000 - $5,000)

Although the precise value of a benefits package varies from employer to employer, you can get a proximate value by multiplying your annual, pre-tax salary by the percentage value of your benefits package (ask human resources staff or the hiring manager for that figure).

Example: $67,569 (pre-tax salary) x 35% (percentage value of benefits) = $23,649.15 (cash value of benefits)

Total compensation package value: $91,218.15

When comparing multiple offers, this could be the tie breaker when salaries are the same, but one position offers benefits and the other does not.

Finally, make a list of questions you need to be answered. This could include job responsibilities or productivity expectations. You may want to ask, what is the expected productivity requirement if you are in your health care setting? Does that change if

  • You are a CF?
  • You are taking on a student or CF to mentor/supervise?
  • You have administrative duties as part of the job (e.g., scheduling the patients for the entire SLP department)?

It is important to be confident and prepared before making your decision or negotiating your offer.

Negotiating the Offer

If you are comfortable with the offer, accept and go celebrate! However, if there are a few things to clear up or ask for, it is time to negotiate. You don’t have to come in ready to fight, but you need to be ready to have an informed but firm conversation. The hiring manager will be used to this so don’t be nervous, just make sure to do the following:

  • Keep your tone conversational.
  • Stay on topic and organized.
  • Ask all your questions, don’t make demands.

If you are negotiating about salary or benefits, ask the interviewer how they determined the range and if they could increase the offer based on your experience, specialized training, or market value. In First Job Out of Grad School? Be Savvy About the Compensation Package, Michelle Garmizo suggests trying, “I am excited about this offer and am certain I will be a great asset to this team, but your salary offer is lower than I expected. What standards were you thinking about when you developed the salary offer? Have you negotiated salary with candidates in the past?”

From there, you and the hiring manager may edit the contract by hand. Make sure that the handwriting is legible on your copy and initial all handwritten edits or if you are speaking on the phone, make sure that you noted all the proposed changes and then double-check it against the revised offer.

Once you get to an agreement, always keep a copy of your signed contract.