So, you’ve finally landed your first job offer after attending dozens of interviews and sending out countless copies of your curriculum vitae (CV).
Congratulations! It’s a tough job market out there and you have stood out amongst the sea of fresh graduates.
But before you rush to accept what may seem like a golden opportunity, here are some important things for you to know (and do!) before saying “Yes!” to the offer.
#1. Get a letter of appointment (or offer of employment)
It can be thrilling to receive that phone call saying, “You’ve got the job!”, so much so that you may be tempted to accept the offer immediately. But hold on to your hats!
Make sure you get a written offer before proceeding further.
This is where a letter of appointment or an offer of employment comes in, as highlighted by Brendan Tang, APAC Resourcing and Talent Acquisition Specialist in BSI Group.
“Companies should have the ethical obligation to underline what was discussed during the interview in writing. This includes base salary, job scope and/or description, employee benefits and the start date of employment,” explains Brendan.
“It is every employee’s right to ask for a written offer, which is legally binding.”
#2. Know your benefits
Once you have your offer of employment, it’s important to go through your salary, compensation and benefits stated in the offer letter.
While perks may vary between companies and type of work, you should ensure that you are entitled to some of the standard employee benefits.
For starters, here are the statutory benefits that are required by law:
- Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP)
- This is a compulsory savings plan to ensure that you save a portion of your monthly salary so that the money can be used when you retire.
- Contribution is compulsory from both employers and Malaysian citizens employed in the private sector, including part-time, temporary and probationary employees.
- In general, you will need to contribute between 8% and 11% of your salary while employers contribute 12% to 13% on your gross salary.
- Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) or Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial (PERKESO)
- This is an insurance scheme that provides employees coverage for workplace accidents and disability/death due to any cause.
- Contribution is compulsory from both employers and employees if you earn RM4,000 and below.
- You will contribute 0.5% of your monthly salary while your employer contributes 1.75%.
As for leave (e.g. annual, sick, maternity, etc.), you should expect:
- Paid annual leave: Minimum of 8 days per year. Most companies, however, generally start you off with 14 days of annual leave a year.
- Sick leave: Where no hospitalisation is necessary, you’re entitled to 14 days of sick leave in each calendar year.
- Maternity leave: At least 60 consecutive paid days off from work for female employees. Note that maternity leave is separate from annual leave.
Besides that, depending on your company, you may also be entitled to other benefits, such as:
- Medical claims, including dental, optical, hospitalisation, etc.
- Health or life insurance
- Travel claims (e.g. toll, parking or mileage claims) when commuting for work
- Expense claims when you make purchases on behalf of the company (e.g. stationery, business lunches with clients, etc.)
- Bonuses (this is often given at the sole discretion of your employer and may depend on your as well as the company’s performance)
If you are unsure what your benefits are and cannot decipher the jargon in your offer of employment, make sure you clarify with the company’s human resource department!
#3. Request for agreements to be in black and white
When it comes to the working world, verbal agreements during your interview should be put in writing to safeguard both parties and make it legally binding. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous employers out there. Therefore, it is crucial that you learn to protect yourself and not depend on a gentleman’s agreement.
If you were told during the interview that you’ll receive an increment upon completing your probation period, make sure this is stated in your letter of appointment (or at the very least, in an email) as a mere verbal agreement may be insufficient to hold your employer to his/her word.
#4. Clean up your social tracks
Just because you already have a job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be extra careful about what you share on social media!
Take it from this beauty queen who was stripped off her Miss Malaysia World 2016/17 title after sharing offensive posts online about the Miss Malaysia World organisation, or this expat in Singapore who was fired for his rant about not being able to play Pokémon Go.
So, while it’s amusing to share a picture of you having too much fun at a party on Facebook, depending on the nature of the photo, this might not look good in the eyes of an employer and may come back and haunt you.
To avoid getting into trouble, whether it’s now or in the future, it’s best to clean up your social tracks by deleting (or hiding) questionable posts and photos. Don’t forget to do a quick Google search of yourself as well to see what pops up and remove anything undesirable.
#5. Don’t jump the gun
It is not uncommon for a company’s recruiter to pressure you into accepting the job offer within a few short days, sometimes as soon as it’s been made over the phone.
However, you should never commit to a job unless you’ve read and understood the contents in the company’s letter of appointment.
While a job is something that you’ve coveted for a while, take a step back to re-evaluate and ask yourself some important questions such as: “Is there anything in the letter of appointment that I don’t understand?”, “Am I sure I want the position?” or “What if I get an offer from another company?”
If you’re not 100% certain, you could ask for a few days to consider their offer. However, there are also dangers of delaying an offer on both parties, so be wary of how long an extension you request!
At the same time, don’t be afraid to decline the job offer if you feel like it’s not the best for you. Just remember to decline it as professionally as possible.
Phew! While there are many things that you need to know before starting your first job, it’s important to remember to take things one step at a time. So, allocate some time to keep yourself in the know about your rights as an employee to avoid being shortchanged. It sounds like extra work (and it is!) but it’ll be worth the effort. Good luck!