We only insult you because we want to hire you
It's Working employment column
A friend of mine called me from Nebraska. She had just received a great job offer, for a vice president of marketing position. The salary and the bonus package looked great. The company also planned to relocate my friend and her family out of state for the job. There was only one problem: My friend had asked for two additions to the offer letter, and had been turned down flat.
The first thing my friend -- we'll call her Amy -- had asked for was a relocation package. The employer said, "We will give you some cash to make the move." Cash is good. But if you're moving a family across country, you need to know exactly what the company will cover, and what it won't. In Amy's case, there was a house to be sold. The real estate market is not great, so Amy was concerned. The company said, "Well, selling the house is your problem." That was a bad sign.
Amy also asked her prospective employer for an employment agreement -- something that would guarantee her a soft landing if the company should suddenly go out of business, or eliminate her job three weeks after she started. She got a "No" on that request, too.
That's why Amy called me, to get my opinion. "This is not good," I told her. "What kind of company would want a new senior-level executive starting a job, with half of her brain devoted to worrying about a house on the market a thousand miles
As for the employment agreement, that worried me too. VP-level candidates routinely receive such agreements, to guarantee them a continuation of salary for some period of time if the company goes under or is sold. The worst part is that after turning Amy down on her two requests, the VP of HR had called her and said, "Gee, Amy, we had no idea you were so risk-averse! We pegged you as more adventuresome than this. All this worry about your house and the possibility of getting laid off -- don't you trust us?"
That was the final straw, as far as I was concerned. "You do not want this job," I told my friend. "Walk away. When the company starts insulting you, and blaming you for wanting to take care of your family, it's time to hit the road."
There is a certain kind of employer that thinks nothing of "rattling" a job candidate into taking a job, and this company sounded to me like one of those. I advised Amy to walk away from the job opportunity and wait for an employer who would respect her concerns and her financial stability -- and that of her husband and kids -- as much as they do their own. She's still
Sometimes, a job-offer negotiation can become so all-consuming that it blinds even a savvy businessperson to the risks they
are taking. You never want to fall into that trap. Look out for your own interests -- you can be sure the employer is doing the same thing.
Liz Ryan is a former Fortune 500 VP, a 25-year HR veteran and an expert on careers and the new millennium workplace. An award-winning entrepreneur and workplace adviser, Ryan is author of "Happy About Online Networking" and founder of the global online community www.AskLizRyan.com. E-mail Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.