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Working Wise: Job Offers

Dear Working Wise,

I just turned down a job offer, because they wanted me to sign an agreement saying that I would not work for one of their competitors for 6 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

September 28, 2016

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? Some professions are exempt from overtime rules. Will you be required to use your personal vehicle? If so, will you be compensated for mileage and insurance costs?

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, for example, 1 or 2 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

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 How to Handle Job Offers article on the ALIS website.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/biffspandex

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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