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8 Important Things to Look for in an Employment Offer

Updated: March 28, 2023
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When an employer gives you an offer of potential employment, you have a right to negotiate the contract. This employment contract will be presented as an offer letter, which you are allowed to discuss before signing anything.

By understanding what to look for in an employment offer or freelance contract, you can protect yourself, ensure you’re paid fairly, and make the most out of your next career move.

Here are 8 important things to look for in an employment offer.

1. Salary

Salary is one of the determining factors for anyone considering a new job opportunity. While work environment and benefits also matter, salary has the greatest effect on your quality of life, only second to your health.

Negotiating a salary is a key skill that every worker can benefit from developing.

Your salary should reflect your experience, education, and skills. But, most importantly, your salary should reflect your value as an employee.

Check sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and Zippia to see what people in your prospective position earn on average. Then, make sure that you are being compensated fairly.

Here is an article that gives tips on how to negotiate job offers.

See Employment Offer Pricing by State

2. Benefits

Benefits packages vary greatly by employer, so you should pay particular attention to the perks of your job.

Benefits can include things such as:

  • Medical and disability payments
  • Retirement contributions
  • Health insurance packages
  • Paid time off
  • Paid vacation

Make sure you carefully review the benefits your employer offers and that they provide any legally required benefits based on the size of their operation and the hours you will work.

Laws through the Department of Labor protect employees from not being fairly covered by their employers.

Here is an article that explores terms of employment to look out for.

3. Bonus Structure

Job growth and a bonus structure to incentive employees is an important part of personal development and emotional well-being.

Having a fair and clear bonus structure can make you feel confident in your ability to develop your skills and achieve a higher role or title with time.

Bonuses tend to bring more than just additional compensation; they come with greater responsibilities you must meet to receive another promotion.

The bonus structure is an important part of a contract because it outlines an employer's expectations and objectives for their employees.

Here is an article explaining different employment bonuses and their benefits.

4. Paid-Time Off and Schedule Flexibility

Paid time off and flexibility help you achieve a greater work-life balance. Based on the size of your prospective employer’s company, they are legally mandated to provide you with a certain amount of paid sick leave.

Paid time off, however, is widely negotiable and can vary by employer. In addition, not all states are required to offer unpaid time off, so if this is important to you, you should openly discuss it before signing a contract.

If schedule flexibility and PTO packages are not included in an employment contract, you should ask why.

Here is an article where you can read more about the importance of paid time off.

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5. Job Roles and Responsibilities

To prevent exploitation and overwork, you should ensure that your employment contract has a detailed description of the roles and responsibilities in your new position.

After signing a contract, your employer cannot make you work additional responsibilities without a modified contract and additional compensation.

The details of employment should include items such as:

  • What is your position is
  • What tasks you are hired to perform
  • How your performance will be measured

A candidate applying for a specific position is not obligated to accept an offer for a job that spans beyond the scope of their original application.

Ultimately, an offer letter is an invitation from an employer, which you are free to negotiate or decline if it does not seem fair to you.

Here is an article where you can read more about how to clarify a job role.

See Employment Offer Pricing by State

6. Contingencies

Contingencies are types of protection to which an employer may ask an employee candidate to adhere. These can include signing a noncompete agreement or an employee confidentiality agreement prior to beginning work.

A non-competition agreement can prevent you from sharing any intellectual property or even working with a competing employer after leaving your current job.

While contingencies are widely common, they should not be taken lightly. For example, if the noncompete agreement attempts to bar you from working in the same county for a year after submitting a resignation letter, you should negotiate this.

You may also find that if an employer attempts to directly or indirectly influence all your job prospects after leaving their company, they may not be the right fit for you.

Here is an article where you can learn more about what to look for in a non-competition agreement.

7. At-Will Employment

An at-will employment allows the employer to terminate at any time, without warning or justification. It also allows an employee to leave their job without notice or justification.

While this can provide flexibility, it can also deny employees key benefits and protection.

Under at-will employment, employers can change wages, schedules, and benefits without warning.

At-will employment is not uncommon in employment contracts, but you should consider the impact this might have on your work life.

Just because an employer can terminate an employee at will does not mean they will. There are also still many laws in place to protect at-will employees from discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, and more.

Here is an article where you can learn more about what at-will employment means and how it might affect you.

8. Arbitration Clauses

Signing contracts with arbitration clauses means you agree not to sue the employer in court. Instead, you will settle any disagreements or disputes through a legal process called arbitration.

Arbitration requires meeting with an arbitrator to discuss the issues at hand. Eventually, the arbitrator will conclude and issue a written decision. For example, you cannot take your employer to court over a severance agreement dispute under this clause.

Not all arbitration contracts are legally enforceable, so it’s important to understand your rights as well as any employer’s limits.

Here is an article that explores the debate around the enforcement of arbitration clauses in contract law.

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