Six months ago when we talked about preparing for a
screening interview, he had hoped to be able to be offered
a position. Now he has the offer in hand, literally, has
taken another promising screening interview with another
top-flight firm and interviewed with a third firm.
What should I do, Dan, he asked since the first firm desires
a reply in less than a week?
So, he provided the substance of the offer letter and benefits
package and we spoke about it. The offer describes the title,
yet does not indicate the responsibilities, assignments and
project work in a job description. It is coded in a cryptic
job description, like Structural Engineer 4.
Find out specifically what the job entails and who you report to.
The offer letter also points out that the job is for “at will”
employment. All that means is that the end date is not formally
established, according to employment law expert Al Sklover.
Mr. Sklover also provides in his information loaded webpage
key insight into the terms to look out for in an offer letter.
The offer letter indicates a salary and
“Documentation of acceptable work authorization and identity
document(s) to complete the I-9 process as required by the
Immigration Reform and Control Act.”
In order for him to sign the intention to commit to working
with this firm, he needs to know whether the firm will assist
him in getting appropriate working permits to work full time
in the US; salary aside for the moment. This commitment is
time consuming and will cost the firm legal and administrative
expense. A call to the hiring representative before signing is
In the conversation (before the deadline date), he needs to
consider asking for immigration permit support and that it
be incorporated into the offer letter.
It is also beneficial to state that he has high interest in
accepting the offer.
Now the salary. The salary offer represents the initial
negotiating position for the company. It is at best at the
40th percentile of the range of positions and is low. So,
we practiced how to artfully ask if there is anything that
could be done to bring the salary up past the 50th
percentile. The company after all is one of the leaders
in its field.
So, (1) understand what the position entails and who he will
report to. (2) Seek a commitment in writing to obtain a
permit work in the US. (2a) One approach is the OPT/CPT
route through the university which requires tuition payment.
(2b) Ask if the company will pay for this. (2c) Ask it to
be put in the offer letter, as well.
(3) Then a fair compensation needs to be negotiated.
Report to the company that you have read the details of the
benefits package and find many components to be quite
generous. But a few questions remain regarding
requesting (4) relocation reimbursement, (5) househunting
trip, (6) 401K match, and (7) vacation. (These are not
mentioned in the benefits package document.)
So, it is quite important to seek the help of a mentor who
understands what is involved and what you can specifically
In terms of competing offers, understand that even after you
have submitted a signed offer letter with the terms that are
acceptable for you and your family, other offers or situations
can intervene. This might bring about a request to end the
agreement which is something either party can do as an at will