Host: Should I ask an employer to put a job offer in writing?
Karen Chopra: Always get the job offer in writing and this is, for me, a hard and fast rule. It doesn't need to be a letter from an attorney; it just needs to be an email clarifying what the terms of the offer are. Make sure that you get it in writing in some form. Either they will send you letter or they will send you an email with the title, the salary, the start date and often the benefit packages just attached but you want that in some written form so that you have it to refer to later. I've seen lots of clients take a job and within weeks of taking the job, the boss that hired them, the person who negotiated the deal, has left the company and somebody new comes in and because the deal that was negotiated was not your standard compensation package, the new boss doesn't want to honor it. The employee says, well, but that was the deal and the new boss says, well where is the letter, show it to me in writing and there is no written record of that and this has happened to more clients than I care to think about.
So I always encourage people to get in writing. Something can happen, people change, employers change, things change and people forget what the deal was or it gets fuzzy in people's mind. This is especially true if you negotiated extra leave or a signing bonus or something, flex time, anything that's a little unusual and not standard, make sure that there is a written document of that.
If they don't want to do it, you could simply say, well why don't I send you an email elaborating my understanding of what we have worked out here and all you need to do is either tell me that I have got it right or correct whatever you don't agree with and then send it back to me and print off both those emails, the exchange of emails, put them together. Put them in a nice safe place and when someones has got, "I am not sure that's what we agreed to", "Oh no, I have an email exchange that proves that this is what we agreed to.
" That is all the documentation that you need. Normally human resources isn't going to want to push it. If they have got a written documentation of what was agreed to, they will usually give it to you. If there is nothing in writing though, it could all go away.