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I am a year away from finishing graduate school, and the campus drives in my college are about to start. It's mostly big names that come to campus, but I am really interested in a specific small company.

I applied, and then after a series of telephone interviews and online tests, they seem to be interested in me. But, I don't want to start work until after I graduate.

However in the meantime, if I make a commitment to join them, they plan on providing training assistance and some small assignments, in exchange for staying away from future recruitment drives.

They want a written assurance from me that I'll join their company, but how can I be assured that after graduating, there will still be a job for me? For example, if they decide they don't need my expertise anymore or if they shut down.

Is it reasonable to enter into such an agreement with a company prior to the actual hire?

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If they gave you the projects like you say, would they pay you or is this all speculation? –  Jetti Sep 9 '11 at 14:01
    
They're willing to pay me something for some small projects - or "weekend" projects as they call it. This part is appealing me to think of them as a genuine opportunity, but then even freelancers get paid, but they're not on the payroll. Do you think I should mention this in the question? –  yati sagade Sep 9 '11 at 17:51
    
@Mark Trapp Excellent edit :) It's a lot clearer now! –  yati sagade Sep 10 '11 at 10:49

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Get a signing bonus. The training and small projects to work on are taking up your time, so they may not be as valuable to you. Both parties are better off if they give you an incentive (money) that is contingent upon your taking the job. If they go out of business, you get to keep the money. Go to other interviews, but if you take another job, you have to give the money back. You can spend it on training if this is part of the job, but I think their money offer should be a little higher if there are strings attached about spending. Otherwise, it should not take a lot of money to help a student in their last year.

If they tell you they can't come up with the money, this is a bad sign about their financial situation or seriousness about securing top talent. You better do your due diligence before taking this job.

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Get a signing bonus and a written agreement of employment that specifies salary and severance terms. –  Scott Wilson Sep 9 '11 at 15:45

You owe nothing to a company without a contract. Nothing. If this small company is willing to give you an employment contract (with a starting date in the near future), then behave with recruiters from other companies as you would do if you were employed. Otherwise, talk and try to be recruited by them since you want a job. Anyway, even employed, I'd talk to recruiters even if I wasn't willing to take an offer from them. Networking is never bad.

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Hahaa, +1 for "pass out" description, but here in India, "passing out" is a fairly common phrase, that is equivalent to "finishing" :) Thanks. One thing, should I frankly tell the small company that I will talk to other recruiters as long as I don't join them? –  yati sagade Sep 9 '11 at 9:30
    
@yati sagade I imagined it was a common idiom where you live I just thought the question would be clear exchanging this idiom for another. Maybe I should have posted that just as a comment, keeping it outside of my question. –  Vitor Sep 9 '11 at 9:32
    
edits saved, sire :) –  yati sagade Sep 9 '11 at 9:34

I personally would take up the offer AND go to the campus drives. You can then make an informed choice about whether to work for them later on down the line.

What they are asking is silly and insecure. If they are offering you a good opportunity it will still be good even after you have seen the other options. You don't owe this company anything until you have signed a contract and they start paying you.

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Payment? That's not necessary for a contract. There's a (proposed) written agreement, there's consideration (free training). Consult a lawyer if you plan to sign an agreement and then break the terms of the agreement. It may be legal if the terms are void, but that's a very specialized matter. –  MSalters Sep 9 '11 at 11:33
    
+1 for "You don't owe this company anything until you have signed a contract and they start paying you." –  David Peterman Sep 9 '11 at 14:13

The small company are NOT your boss now, and as such have NO RIGHT to tell you where to go or who to talk to. Even if/when you are with them, they STILL have no right to tell you who you might like to talk to regarding any future employment of yours.

What YOU do on YOUR time, is frankly none of their business.

This massive insecurity on their part is one big red flag for me. Stay away IMHO.

NWS.

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Under no circumstances would I agree to avoid recruitment drives. That's the best chance you've got of getting a good job if the deal with the small company falls through, for whatever reason. Small companies can change fast, as you've pointed out, and a desire to hire new people one year can turn into layoffs the next (been there, experienced that).

Moreover, it reduces your negotiating power right off. You're partially committing to accept whatever job they offer you, sight unseen. If they lowball the salary, you've got little recourse.

Make it clear that you are going to explore the field, but that you're very interested in them. Don't break your promises, and don't make promises that you can't or really don't want to keep. Job negotiations are not the time to break faith with a company.

If this is a genuine opportunity for both you and the company, it'll be there as you get closer to graduation, and you can pick it up then. Always be suspicious of people who try to get you to limit your options or make premature commitments: they may be acting legitimately, but there's any number of scams that work that way.

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thanks a lot. I hope with my fingers crossed that this is a genuine opportunity :) –  yati sagade Sep 9 '11 at 17:55

It sounds suspiciously like they're either low-balling you on salary, or they aren't planning to offer you a standard set of benefits. Whatever the reason, I definitely wouldn't avoid the job drives. How are you going to know what you're really worth if you don't shop around?

It sounds like you're very interested in working for this smaller company, so I'd recommend going ahead with your "memorandum of understanding" or whatever documentation they want. I wouldn't sign anything that forbids you from speaking to other potential employers, unless they want to guarantee you at least two years of employment. A hiring or retention bonus sounds nice, but IME small companies aren't likely to offer one, unless they're especially well-funded.

Good luck!

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thanks a ton :) –  yati sagade Sep 9 '11 at 17:52

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