After the resumes and the interviews, it finally happens – you get the job offer for a loan officer. You’re excited to sign on the dotted line, but not so fast. You need to take a long hard look at your employment contract.
An employment contract defines the obligations of your specific job as well as the expectations of your employer. These contracts can range from a simple one page document or 10 pages of legalese. You need to understand what exactly you are signing. Key details of your employment contract should include the following:
- Fundamental aspects such as your job title, start date, starting salary, vacation allotment, number of available sick days, and any medical and retirement benefits.
- The scope of your responsibilities, including details about what happens to your loans and your leads if you need a leave of absence or unable to handle your current responsibilities.
- Severance details, including how much you are entitled to receive, when you are eligible to receive them, and under what circumstances.
- Information about the fate of your pipelines and ownership of the database should you leave, be laid off, or are fired.
- Any commissions, bonuses, or stock options that are available to you, as well as when you would, and would not, receive them while employed and what happens if a loan closes after you leave the company.
- General company policies regarding breaks, lunches, social media, client data and privacy, and situations leading to termination.
- Special considerations for you specifically, such as a job review with a possible pay increase in six months, who pays for marketing, and acceptability of communicating with underwriters and processors.
- Non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, and other post-employment restrictions.
With the sheer amount of details, you may just want to sign your contract and get started. But you don’t have to accept every aspect silently. You are allowed to negotiate aspects of your contract so that both you and your employer are content with the details of your employment. When negotiating an employment contract, below are some tips to make the process smoother and quicker:
- Think before you react: As you scan your contract in front of your prospective employers, you may find parts that you want changed. Instead of reacting immediately, request a grace period to digest the details in a more relaxing atmosphere.
- Take time to review: Read your contract carefully and note any parts that you would like to adjust or that you do not understand. Obtain legal advice if needed.
- Priorities: Rate the items you want to negotiate so that you can determine your deal makers and your deal breakers.
- Offer options: To keep the dialog positive and moving forward, make sure you provide options to your areas of negotiation, if possible. For example, you may be willing to accept a smaller severance in exchange for more sick days. This allows for flexibility in the discussion and shows that you are a team player. Try to provide documentation to back up your options and make sure to communicate professionally.
- It’s ok to walk away: Not every contract will result in a meeting of the minds. If an employer is not willing to budge on one of your top job priorities, then you can decline the contract politely and walk away. You don’t want to regret taking this opportunity soon after starting.
When presented with an employment contract, it’s understandable that you want to accept it right away or feel pressured to sign it at the moment. But remember – you spend much of your waking time at work. It is in your best interest – and your employer’s – to ensure that you both of you feel comfortable with the details of your contract. Take the time to read the document thoroughly and never hesitate to ask for clarification or advice – those few extra minutes can prevent a huge headache down the road.