Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Signing Your One Way Ticket Out of Sleep Deprivation

This week I'd like to cover a few extra details about making your final decision for a full-time job (or internship/co-op). There are few things to consider before and while you sign on the dotted line of your acceptance forms.

First of all, when negotiating your final offer, you need to look at your salary, benefits, and start date/location. While salaries with most larger companies and development programs are usually mandated by a strict pay structure policy, some companies will be flexible with salary negotiations. While negotiating salary think about several things:
  • Unless a company says that a signing bonus will be a certain amount after taxes, assume that 30-40% of your signing bonus will be taken in taxes.
  • Check the cost of living and search a few apartments in the area you are planning on living. $50,000 a year in Lansing goes a lot further than $50,000 a year in New York City or Washington, DC.
  • A good set of benefits are worth big $$! Having low co-pays and great medical benefits will help in the long run, especially if you plan on staying with a company for many years. It may seen small now, but having good medical, dental, and vision insurance will literally save you thousands of dollars in the future.
  • Companies with solid investment and savings programs get an A+ because they help their employees made the most of their investment and savings strategies.

When it comes to your start date, it's always a good idea to discuss your options with your company of choice. Having a few weeks to recover from school and possibly travel may be the difference between you being a happy camper or being a burnt out camper after a few months on the job. Keep in mind that most companies only give you 10 days (2 weeks) vacation starting out so the odds of you being able to take 3-4 weeks off to travel around the world are slim to none for your first few years of work. If you are dead set on starting out at the your job right away, that is fine, but know that you may be missing out on an opportunity to relax, spend time with family/friends, and feel like a human being again before having to start work. Even though making money is a very good thing, if you can afford to take some time off it may be worth every penny you have to earn back to cover your expenses during that time.

When Things Go Bad

Given that the current economy is pretty sad, it is important to consider the worst case scenario. Several companies in the last few years have been forced to rescind job offers or make significant cuts to their younger work force. Just because you have a full-time offer doesn't mean it's going to be there forever. Make sure to work hard and get noticed at work, but also make sure to keep your resume updated and continue training to develop your skills.

On the other hand, there may be a point that you decide that you no longer wish to work for a company. If you decide this before starting your job, but after sending in your final acceptance, it is important that you understand something. If you decide to rescind your acceptance, you are burning a bridge with a company. There are NO take-backs. It is generally safe to assume that if you accepted a job then decide 2 months before you start that you want to back out, you have officially burned a bridge with that company. Do not expect them to go out of their way to get you back if you decide that you made the wrong decision. There's a big different between declining an offer right away and backing out at the last minute.

On the topic of burning bridges, it is very important that when accepting and/or declining offers, you be as polite and professional as possible. Throwing an offer in a company's face because it is "too low" or "not competitive enough" is a solid way to torch any relationship you had with that company. Behaving like that is immature and not one bit professional. Let's put it this way, treat a company giving you an offer like your grandmother trying to give you a cookie. You wouldn't tell your grandmother to shove the offered cookie where the sun doesn't shine. If you would, well, then you're just not a nice person. Keep this idea in mind when declining an offer from a company. Be polite and concise with your rejection. Tell them that you appreciate that they took time out of their busy day to help you and that you wish them all the best. Even though you may be closing the door on a company for now, it's a good idea to make sure that door is not bolted and boarded shut for the future when that company may be a good choice for you.

That's all I have for this week. Hopefully this is helpful to any of the seniors out there who are trying to decide on their future employers. If you have any additional questions, please send them to me at

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

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