Signing an employment contract can be your worst nightmare if you don’t take the time you need to read and understand it.
So, don’t rush to sign without taking at least a few days to go through it to make sure you know what you’re signing and that you aren’t getting a raw deal.
Once you sign an employment contract, you’re legally bound by it, even if you weren’t clear on the terms. So, you may end up stuck in an impossible situation.
People signing contracts they don’t understand or aren’t satisfied with happens all the time. Sometimes they just really need the job and think they’ll jeopardize their chances by asking too many questions or trying to negotiate. But you should never do that. Contracts aren’t just meant to benefit the employer, they’re supposed to benefit you too.
So, take all the time you need to understand them and protect your interests.
You need time to understand what you’re getting yourself into
Combing through a contract takes time.
Contracts aren’t always as easy to understand as you’d think. Sometimes you think you know what something means, but you really don’t. All you can do is read. Read every word of the contract. Read the contract as many times as you can. Look up the terms you don’t understand.
It will take time, so take all the time you can. Don’t rush to sign anything you don’t understand.
Do as much research as you can.
Make note of what you aren’t clear on so you can get clarity on it from the other party, a legal professional or even a friend.
You may need a second opinion
After reading the contract the first few times, put it down and sleep on it.
Reading the same contract with fresh eyes may help you see something you previously overlooked. After you’ve looked it over with fresh eyes, write down any new concerns if you have any.
Another smart thing to do is to get someone else to look at it – a lawyer, a friend or anyone you think may understand it better than you do. They may help you understand the things you don’t and give additional notes to ask the other party about.
Your contract should benefit you too, so negotiate
Don’t sign the contract if it doesn’t benefit you in the ways you want. When looking through an employment contract you need to make sure you have as much leverage as possible.
And I’m not just talking about compensation. I mean the overall terms of the agreement. You need to see what you’re entitled to as an employee of the company and the level of control they have over you.
Look at the termination terms, vacation time, sick leave, sanctions, responsibilities. Make sure you’re satisfied with what they’ve laid out for it. If you aren’t, then don’t sign it.
If the terms on paper don’t align with what you were promised during the oral negotiation, say something. The contract should be mutually beneficial and fair.
If the end doesn’t justify the means, don’t sign.
Contracts can be intimidating, but don’t crack under the pressure. Never sign on the spot. Take the time you need to make sure you understand what the contract means for you. You also need to make sure you’re satisfied with what you’re agreeing to. Stand your ground and sign only if you’re clear and confident about the agreement.