When you finally hold an employment contract in your hands, euphoria can easily take over. It is important not to sign the contract immediately out of sheer joy, but to read it carefully first and check the offer thoroughly. If the contract contains vague formulations or deviations from what was discussed verbally in advance, you should definitely address and clarify these. Also take the time to check any attachments in detail. It can also be helpful to talk about the contract and possible consequences with close friends or family. Even if the contact seems great at first, you should allow yourself to sleep on it before signing.
Prepare well before going in for your contract negotiation. Don’t forget to take notes regarding critical details before and during the discussion.
- Compensation (Salary + additional service): You should have already thought about this point in detail and have a clear idea about it. Bear in mind that salary can vary depending on the industry, size of the company or region. Determine your lower and upper targets and keep them in mind during the negotiation. Prepare arguments to support your proposition (e.g. salary in comparable positions, experience, responsibility). If your counterpart counters your demands with an alternative offer, you should consider it and take your time to fully reflect on what it would mean for you. Keep in mind that not only the salary itself, but also any additional contributions such as covering of any transport costs or your mobile bill.
- Note: Most of the time you can expect to meet somewhere in the middle when negotiating your salary. Therefore, you can start out with a relatively high proposal, as long as you keep it realistic.
- Note: Remember that a salary commonly consists of fixed as well as variable parts. If that is the case for you, check how great any fluctuations could be and what that would mean for you.
- Purview: In this part of the contract, your future activities and responsibilities are listed. Don’t hesitate to mention any potential further education that is not yet listed, but relevant to you.
- Place of work and working hours: Working from home is very common nowadays. Nevertheless, you should clarify how often you are expected to be at the office and how flexible the working hours are. Don’t forget to check where you will be located and whether there are any plans to potentially relocate.
- Periods: Here, the probationary period and the notice period are relevant.
- Renegotiation: Renegotiations can be reasonable and it may be worthwhile to discuss at this stage when and under what conditions such renegotiations would be possible.
- Note: Before you ask for a renegotiation, you should consider who best to approach about it and when the most favourable time for such a discussion would be. When preparing for your renegotiation, you should also think carefully about how you can justify asking for a raise (e.g. performance, more responsibility, additional education). Also, think through what arguments your counterpart could put forward and how you would respond to them.
- Note: If the conversation was unsuccessful, it may be worthwhile to agree on specific goals and even to set a date for a follow-up conversation.
It makes sense to be aware of employment laws in the country one is working in. Especially if you are applying for a position abroad, we recommend doing some research regarding this topic.