You’ve landed your first interview and performed brilliantly enough throughout the interview process to secure your first offer—congratulations! Before moving ahead and automatically accepting the offer, take a moment to consider the offer carefully to be sure the contract is really a good fit.
If you do decide to move forward, it’s equally important to understand the contract specifics and negotiate if you find anything missing or unclear. This way you’ll move into your new position on the strongest possible footing to have a positive experience on your first contract as a consultant. Consider the offer carefully Though it’s very exciting to receive this first offer, it’s important to take a step back and consider it carefully before accepting. Verbal agreements are binding and not to be taken lightly in this business—backing out of a verbal agreement will severely impact your reputation.
Before you move forward with an offer, ask yourself the following questions:
■ Is this a suitable role for my skill-set? Be sure you’re comfortable with the fundamental requirements of the job and your future role on the project team and the position is a good fit with your primary skills.
■ If some responsibilities fall outside my skill-set, am I comfortable with that? If you were careful to be honest and set the interviewer’s expectations appropriately during the interview process this shouldn’t be an issue; however, it is important for you to be comfortable with the scope of your future responsibilities and your ability to learn the skills you might lack at the start of the project.
■Are the working conditions and compensation acceptable and appropriate to my skill level? Don’t be afraid to aim high and negotiate, but do consider your relative expertise and existing market conditions to set realistic goals for yourself at this stage. Your recruitment agent is best placed to determine what the appropriate compensation should be for your skill level.
■ Is this a good career move for me? Your first offer may not necessarily the best. Deciding whether to accept any given opportunity is a very personal decision, but do keep in mind that no contract lasts forever.
■ Is the job in a good geographic location? Though this point is often overlooked when considering an offer, spending several hours a day or more commuting to work every day will impact your finances and quality of life. Now is the time to calculate your transit time as well as the cost of gas, parking, public transportation, etc. and figure these factors into your salary requirements. Though this point is often overlooked when considering an offer, spending several hours a day or more commuting to work every day will impact your finances and quality of life. Now is the time to calculate your transit time as well as the cost of gas, parking, public transportation, etc. and figure these factors into your salary requirements.
Consider the offer carefully
■ Do I understand the local taxation and legal requirements of working in the project location?
The first question to ask is are you legally allowed to work in the project location? Do you need a work permit or visa to enter the country?
If you will be working as an independent consultant, some type of legal structure is required, usually a limited company. Have you decided what type of structure to use? Is it suitable for working in the geographic location where the role is based? What are the tax implications in the working location? Are there any implications in your home country?
Typically working in another country will require significant up front investigation on these issues, as there is always some impact on your legal obligations. If you consider all of these questions carefully and overall, on balance, the role seems like a good fit; it’s time to accept the offer. The choice of consulting opportunity is dependent on many personal factors, but I use this list of things to consider when comparing a new consulting opportunity with my current role.
Additional from the frontline:
Sometimes accepting a role brings some unexpected benefits. I once interviewed for a role in another country. The interview was very informal, and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived on the project. By the end of the project, I had progressed to team lead level, moved to live in a different country, and was having the time of my life. I would advise you to look at consultancy offers not in just in terms of the role, but also consider quality of life aspects. It can be immensely rewarding to work in new countries and experience new cultures.
Accepting the offer Before you’ve let your agent know you’re ready to accept, it’s time to carefully review your contract. Look up any unfamiliar definitions in Wikipedia if necessary. It’s a good idea to ask another consultant or external resource to review the contract and look for anything unusual.
Be sure to answer the following questions as you review the contract:
■ Do you understand all the terms of the contract?
■ What is the notice (termination) period?
■ Is the pay rate what you agreed upon with your agent?
■ Are the start date and length of the contract what you agreed upon with your agent?
■ What are the agency payment terms?
■ Is your company structure ready, so you can be paid for your work?
Most contracts are fairly similar but it’s important to review and confirm the fine points before signing anything, as you’ll be expected to accept the contract terms once you start. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent to explain any clause you don’t understand, and seek independent advice if necessary. If you’re unhappy with any clause or you see something contrary to what you agreed, ask the agent to negotiate a change.
At this stage in the process, both the client and agent have invested significant time and money in selecting you, so minor changes can sometimes be possible. Remember your reputation with the recruitment agent is important so only request changes if necessary. Now is the time to make sure you’re 100% comfortable with your contract before beginning the job.