Robin Bond (@RobinBond) notes in her opening lines of her book, How to Negotiate A Killer Job Offer: The Job “Secret Agent” Series, one seldom stated fact about life:
“Life is a series of negotiations. There is no getting around it. None of us is “too good” to negotiate. In fact, convincing other people to give us what we want is an integral part of every aspect of our daily lives and affects every relationship.”
Bond knows this perspective well. She is the Principal and Founder of Transition Strategies, LLC, an employment law firm near Philadelphia. For over 15 years, she has represented clients in a number of claims regarding civil rights discrimination, non-compete disputes, breach of contracts and compensation matters. She is also a contributing legal analyst and commentator for the CNN and FOX television networks.
A Twitter contact, PR expert Cathy Larkin alerted me to the book – Bond is one of her clients – and I was very delighted to read a solid book that made contract basics so clear.
Understand What a Contract is Without Becoming Ironside in the Process
In explaining contract basics in the first chapter, Bond creates a straightforward equation for what a contract should be:
K = O + A (Contact = Offer + Acceptance)
Bond then notes how each part of the equation should be generally structured. In the following quote, she explains the importance of consideration – the “quid pro quo” that occurs and is of value to the parties involved:
“Remember, there must be consideration given by both parties in order for the contract to be valid. If only one party to the contract gives something of value, then the contract is considered an “illusory” contract and can be held unenforceable for lack of mutual consideration. “
I admired how direct Bond’s writing style is, detailing the thought process behind what is acceptable protocol and what is potentially fraudulent. Bond has crafted one of the best legal books for non-legal minds. Her insights will redirect your efforts to understand strategic legal risks. I was up at 6 AM on a Sunday morning reading this, and after reviewing technical details for an analytics assignment, I felt I could get the gist of this book without a mental burnout. It inspired thought-starters for my contract needs. I think any business owner reading this book will feel equally inspired.
The middle chapters address the bulk of what an offer should look like and associated options: One chapter compares “Long Term Incentives” while another shows how to “Create Your Wish List.” Bond also sets the expectation behind the choices, like this comment about being a “change agent:”
“I’ve had clients go to privately-held companies who thought for sure they wanted my client to be a “change agent” — only to learn that the last thing those companies really wanted was change. You need to be prepared that this could happen to you, and negotiate for terms that protect you from this eventuality.”
Learning What to Expect from a Great Negotiator
Bond covers great specifics without the legalese – expected, given the small business reader audience for this book. But what she excels at with this terrific book is how she lays out clear options regarding offers, acceptances and other details. Readers ultimately get a sense of what the choice can potentially cost. Clearly her experience plays well in this book – she is used to clients who ask if a contact is legally sound, but really wants know if the offer match their dealmakers. She advise these first steps:
“First, have the attorney analyze the offer and tell you what’s good about it, what’s not so good about it, and what is missing from it. You want the attorney to recommend how the deal could be improved and to suggest negotiation strategies to maximize the pay, benefits, and protections available…”
How to Negotiate a Killer Job Offer is the first book in Bond’s Job “Secret Agent” series on how to succeed in the working world. If she continues her series with the quality and excellence she displayed in this first outing, professionals will have the right library for doing a little legal homework.
I’ll add this great quote that captures the sentiment better than I can write it:
“We all realize that you can rarely anticipate in advance and codify within a contract every possible event that can occur by and between two parties. But the ultimate goal of contract negotiations is that when you are done with the deal, both parties can just put the document away in a file drawer for reference because it is so clear from the negotiations what each is going to do and expect from each other that neither feels the need to refer to the document again.”