Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers Part 5 – Employee Stock Purchase Plan

(This is part 5 of the series on Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers. You may also find these other parts interesting: Part1: Base Salary, Part2: Signing Bonus and Relocation Benefits, Part3: Stock Option or Restricted Stock Units(RSUs), Part4: 401K, Part6: Other Perks).

The next aspect we look at is the Employee Stock Purchase Plan.

What is the Employee Stock Purchase Plan?

An Employee Stock Purchase Plan is offered by some of the employers, where the employees may contribute some percentage of their paycheck, after tax deductions, to buying company stocks at a discounted rate. Usually the discount is around 15%. The employees’ contributions are held in a no/low interest holding account for the holding period, usually 6 months. At the end of the holding period, the employee will be granted stocks for the amount of money he/she has contributed. The neat advantage of this is that you get an easy, guaranteed 15% return on your contribution, if you sell your stock immediately.

The discounted price of the stock is usually computed based on the minimum price of the stock on two days, the first day of the offering period and the last day of the offering period. So, if your company stock has increased during the offer period, then you can make a profit, in addition to the 15% discounted price.

The Gotchas

When you sell the stocks, you will incur taxes on the gains. You may also be assessed fees for the transactions.

Depending on the job role, you may be placed on the “restricted employees” or “insider trading” list. In such a case you will not be able to unload company stocks at will. So, if your job functions are related to company finances or includes inside knowledge, you may want to speak with the HR about all the different caveats of your stock purchase and options.

Setting your Expectations

Not all companies offer the Employee Stock Purchase Plan. So, don’t be disheartened if your offer package does not mention it.


This is usually not negotiable. Either the company offers it, or not. However, folks with multiple offers SHOULD use this while calculating the value of their whole package for comparing the different offers.

(Check out all the other parts of this series at – Part1: Base Salary, Part2: Signing Bonus and Relocation BenefitsPart3: Stock Options or Restricted Stock Units(RSUs)Part4: 401KPart6: Other Perks).

What To Do If There Is A Gap In Your Resume

Many people experience a gap in their resume at some point in their life. Maybe you took time off to travel, wanted to change careers, decided to start a family, or something else. So, what do you do when a future potential employer asks about the gap in your resume?

If you were doing something during the gap, include it!

What To Do If There Is A Gap In Your ResumeSchool, volunteering, freelancing, and so on can all be put down in the gap time if you feel that it is valuable (especially if it’s related experience) for the interviewer to know. You could list the position that you had, the work you did, the period of time, and so on. If you have any accomplishments related to this, don’t forget to put those as well! The interviewer and potential employer will want to know this.

Also, make sure to tell the interviewer why the gap actually helped you (if it was a positive reason – such as travel, freelancing, volunteering, school, etc.) and why it makes you a better fit for the position.

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Don’t put down the exact dates.

For the most part, you usually do not have to list your exact start and end dates at your various positions. For example, if your last day was on January 20, 2014, you could just put the year “2014” as your end date and not the month. So you could say you worked at Job A from 2010 to 2014. Or, you could just put the month and the year, such as January 2014.

Have an explanation.

There is always the chance that your employer will ask about the gap in your resume. If so, you should have a reason and you should sound confident with your reason. Don’t think that they won’t notice the gap, because that is very unlikely. It’s always best to be prepared then to go in and stammer through your reasoning.

If you have a gap because you were fired, you need to really show the interviewer that you are a hard worker. Whatever you do, try not to insult your former employer because that may show to the interviewer that you might actually be the problem.

Also, never lie about your reasoning. You never know if there will be a background check, plus it’s always best to just tell the truth because you don’t want to get the job and start at the company on the wrong foot.

Do you have a gap in your resume? Have you ever had to explain it?


Image via Flickr by The CV Inn.


A quiet night in: an exercise in frugal saving.

image1As much as any couple, family or group of friends might like going out, it’s never cheap. Whether it’s fine dining or going out to your local bar or restaurant, these are costs that add up all too easily. They may seem cheap once in a while but once you start doing it on a weekly or semi-regular basis, it becomes a larger and larger chunk of your expenses.

In contrast to this, understanding the benefits of a quiet night in can prove useful. More than offering something different and relaxing it can demonstrate a way to stay cheap and cost effective whilst still enjoying the usual perks of life.


If you go out to eat, you should know how much this can cost. Cooking for yourself is usually the cheapest but there are still other options. For instance, if you have the urge for Chinese food, it may be cheaper for everyone to pool money together for chinese takeaways than visit your local restaurant. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t have the added costs of additional drinks and restaurant prices and other service charges that are often forgotten about.


Likewise, if you’re not going out, there is nothing to stop you from being social. Your home can prove entertaining enough with the right company. Cheap entertainment can be anything from a movie rental (if you’re only going to watch it once, don’t buy something you don’t need) to various games, which offer entertainment again and again. These are all cheap, whether you use it once or buy it to use again and again. This is another lesson to be learnt in saving, by understanding the real value of something.

If you come across some movies that you and your friends love, it makes sense to purchase the DVD so you can all watch it whenever you like. Luckily, you can save money by ordering your DVDs online, so you do not have to worry about breaking the bank. To make things more interesting, consider having each person purchase a DVD online and then choosing between your favorites every time you gather.

Additional expenses

Hopefully the two areas above should highlight how easy it is to cut down on those little costs for every social occasion but there are always other areas to look at. Take your appearance, for instance. If you don’t go out to an expensive restaurant you might not need to risk your best shirt or shoes. It can also save on other expenses, such as getting a taxi home late if you’ve been drinking or other travel costs.  So, next time you think you might go out, suggest staying in to the others and see how much can be saved.

Ways to Ruin an Interview

Going on a job interview can be tough. I don’t think many people look forward to interviews, as they can be very nerve-wrecking. It is always best to be as prepared for an interview as possible. Today’s post will talk about how you may be ruining your chances at getting a job because of your interview style.

Related posts:

10 Secrets to Landing the Best Job Even Before You Graduate

10 Tips to Get Your Job Through Campus Recruitment

A Comprehensive List of Helpful Job Search Resources

Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers Part 1 – The Base Salary


Arriving too early.

Yes, arriving early is always great. However, if you arrive too early and walk inside and bother the interview right away, this can be a big negative. If you arrive too early and do not want to head in yet, you can wait in your car. You don’t want to disrupt the interview with what they are already doing.

Usually heading into their office 5 to 10 minutes early is always best.

Ways to Ruin an Interview


Arriving late.

Arriving too early can cost you points, and arriving late of course can cost you points. You should NEVER arrive late.

Getting too personal.

Sometimes interviewers will test you can start gossiping in order to gauge how professional you are. You should realize what type of situation you are in, and try to be professional in almost all situations.

Attacking your ex-boss.

While in an interview, sometimes an interviewer will ask you about how old boss. You should never try to attack your old job or your old boss, as this can backfire. It is usually best to be positive.

Not preparing for the interview beforehand.

In some cases, some people are best with just “winging” an interview, but most of the time it is best to prepare before the actual interview. Practicing common interview question can be very helpful. Also helpful is researching the company that you are interviewing with. It is best to know and understand what they do.

There are also important things that you should bring with you to an interview. Bring extra copies of your resume, and possibly proof of any of your work achievements and/or diplomas.

Not showing respect for others in the office.

I have always heard that it is best to be very nice to the secretary or receptionist wherever you are interviewing. Of course, you should be nice regardless, but really work on having this person like you.

When an interviewer usually escorts you out, they will ask the secretary what they thought of you. This will help determine whether or not you are professional enough for the job.

What other interview mistakes have you witnessed?


Start Your Own Business for Less Than $500

If your friend announces that they’re going to start their own business, what is your immediate thought? If you’re like most, you probably imagine them opening up shop in a building downtown and selling something to customers that walk in the front door.

This is certainly one way to start a business, but in today’s world I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. The building itself would cost $200k or more, and then you would most likely have to buy a bunch of inventory to stock the shelves, and then you would have to hire someone to sell it! It’s an expensive way to do business and it fails more often than it succeeds.

Since the internet has come along, starting a traditional “brick and mortar” store is most often for broke thinkers. It costs way too much to start and the potential for profits is extremely slim.  Self-employment and working online is possible as well.


Two Factors For Your Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you must at the very least take into consideration to factors: (1) how much are the start-up costs, and (2) what are the potential earnings?

If you open up a baseball card shop downtown, the initial costs will be astronomical and even if you sold thousands of baseball cards each month, what are the odds that you’ll earn enough profits to stick around for the next 20 years? The odds are incredibly slim. This model has high start-up costs and low earnings potential.

Now, what if you took that same baseball card store idea and decided to make a virtual store instead? The initial cost of your website would be $100 or so and the potential sales wouldn’t just be to one neighborhood, but to the entire world! Your earnings potential is now through the roof!


Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant


Start-Ups for $500 or Less

So what businesses can you possibly start for less than $500? I can think of quite a few actually. Pretty much any business online will cost you almost nothing, but in case you’re interested in doing something that doesn’t force you to use your laptop, here are some other ideas:

1)      Lawn Care – All you need is a lawn mower and a weed whacker and you’re in business! If you already own them (which many of us do), then your start-up cost is practically nothing.

2)      Spring Clean-Up – Nobody like to pick up rotten leaves and sticks. You could make a business of this and clean-up! All you really need is a wheelbarrow and a pair of working gloves. Now that’s a cheap start-up.

3)      Detailing Cars – People very rarely clean their cars inside and out and would much rather pay someone else to do it for them. You’ll have to buy a few supplies, but in total, this really shouldn’t cost you more than $100.

4)      Vendor – If you have a lot of parades and events in your area, you might want to try your hand at being a vendor. The cart could get a little pricey, but with a deal, I bet you could keep it under $500.

5)      Build Cabinets – All you need is some lumber and a few tools. If people like your work, this business could really turn into something!

6)      Mechanic – If you know how to repair cars today, you could be in pretty high demand. If you already have the tools, then this start-up will cost you absolutely nothing and it has a tremendous upside!


Are you thinking about starting your own business?


Graduate Jobs: Dealing with Salary Negotiations

Reports in January indicated that for the first time in three price-stagnant years, the starting graduate salary is predicted to rise by 4% to £26,000. This is good news for job seekers and employers looking to attract bright young graduates who are thinking of moving abroad.

Jobs site reed.co.uk reminds us that graduate jobs remain a competitive market, with 250,000 young would-be employees joining the job search every summer, this kind of news is crucial. The report came at the beginning of a year in which 40% of the unemployed population was under 25.

So, one key tip for would-be graduates is to do your research into which companies will be delivering on this promise of rising salaries. Doing your research is one of the most crucial tools in raising your profile and bargaining power.

So, before you even think about asking for a raise, know your facts. Research the average graduate salary – not just the mean tally, but in your specific sector, and even in competing companies. The more you know about the market, the more you know your own value, and more authority you can wield in manipulating your way to a more worthy deal.

Career advice: Negotiating Signing Bonus and RelocationSecondly, keep your options open. Whilst many think that being a graduate in 2012 is unenviable, you can use your skills and desirability to negotiate higher starting salaries. Apply for plenty of jobs, and if you receive offers, make sure you have a clear roster of the salaries on offer and types of position available.

Then you can begin to negotiate between the companies; perhaps the job you really want is offering you a few thousand pounds less than another company, which clearly wants you badly. You can use the desire of the other company to demonstrate that you are clearly a wanted commodity, and this may encourage your other potential employers to give you a better offer.

Finally, always always include the most relevant qualifications – and in good detail. Certain skills which can usually only be obtained on a paid course (this could be anything from PhotoShop to First Aid) are often very useful to companies who require this expertise in the office – so make sure it’s factored into the evaluation.



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Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers

From a purely financial perspective, negotiating your initial offer is probably one of the most significant career moves you will ever make. Let’s say both you and Jane Doe have an initial offer of $50,000/yr. Let’s say you decide to just accept the offer, but Jane negotiates and gets her starting salary increased to $55,000/yr. Just a difference of $5,000 right? Think again.

Just for the sake of discussion, lets say everything else about the offers remains the same between the two of you. Also, to make it simple, lets say for the next 25 years Jane and you have exactly identical career paths. And keeping with the super-simplification, let’s ignore all the variables and just consider one factor – a 4% raise each year. At the end of 25 years Jane’s salary will be $140,981/yr and yours will be $128,165/yr. $12,000/yr is a much bigger number than $5,000/yr,  and it stings a litte, right?

Now consider how much you have earned over the 25 years and how much Jane has. What if I were to tell you that the difference in earning over this period is a whopping $208,229? Yes, its true. Just plug in the number in an excel sheet and you will see for yourself. So, by just negotiating a simple $5,000 raise in starting salary, Jane could earn hundreds of thousands more than you! [Read more…]

10 Tips to Get Your Job Through Campus Recruitment

(This is an article by Tom Becker*)

The job application process can be a nerve racking experience; one that may involve a great deal of preparation and stress. However, being able to interview through campus recruitment presents a unique opportunity that not everyone has the chance to experience. Rather than having to go out and pound the pavement, send endless emails, or have the voicemail messages you leave unreturned, getting a job through campus recruitment can have the recruiters coming to you. This opportunity however, is one that can be even more beneficial if you are properly prepared to take full advantage of it.

1. Study – Similar to a college exam, proper preparation can be key to your success in a campus recruitment interview. Understanding what a possible employer does, knowing the history and circumstances surrounding their company or organization, and having knowledge about the position for which you are applying can make a favorable impression upon those with whom you are interviewing.

2. Test Yourself – Before your all important interview, you might take some time to test yourself and your interview acumen. Consider questions that you might be asked by your interviewers. If you don’t have ideas as to what these questions might be, you might want to search for typical interview questions on the Internet. When you answer these questions, you might want to try answering them aloud to hear how your answers sound and practice proper phrasing and articulation.

3. Prepare Your Own Questions – Asking questions related to a particular job or company can show that you are interested and educated regarding the position for which you are interviewing and the company or organization you are interviewing with. Sitting there with a blank stare when asked if you have questions for the interviewer can be a sign that you are unprepared or uninterested.

4. Remember the Little Things – The little things can make a big difference in the overall impression you make upon your interviewers. Having items like a working pen, paper, extra resumes and cover letters, and similar items can prevent you having to ask to borrow them from the interviewer or worse, sitting their seemingly unprepared or uninterested, both of which are potential interview killers.

5. Dress Appropriately – In most instances, it’s best to wear professional business attire to an interview whether or not it’s required or requested. It’s often better safe than sorry and being a bit overdressed probably won’t hurt your chances as much as being underdressed will.

6. Eat Something – As nervous as you may be, putting something in your stomach before interview time can keep embarrassing belly rumbling to a minimum. Sitting there in the crushing silence before that first critical interview question is asked, only to hear the churning of your stomach echoing through the interview room might have your interviewers raising an eyebrow or two.

7. A Bottle of Water – You certainly don’t want to flaunt having a bottle of water, slurping from it noisily or taking constant drinks from it throughout your interview, but having it available can come in handy. Few things can be more distracting or a turnoff to interviewers than that smacking noise your mouth makes when you’re nervous and your mouth is really dry. Worse yet might be that white stuff that accumulates around the edges of your mouth when it is excessively dry. Such things can severely detract from the overall impression you present during your interview.

8. Timeliness – While it shouldn’t have to be said, timeliness is often critical when it comes to campus recruitment. This isn’t a party and it’s not the time to arrive fashionably late. But when it comes to timeliness during your interview session, it may pertain not only to arriving on time, but not overstaying your welcome as well.

9. Graciousness – It’s probably not the best idea to just get up and walk out after your interview is completed. It can be important to show the proper respect and give your appreciation for the opportunity to interview for the position, but not overdo it. Acting as if you’re the interviewer’s best friend or being overly friendly by giving hugs, high-fives or slaps on the back might raise some red flags for the interviewer.

10. Follow-up – Depending on how an interview ends, a follow-up could involve numerous scenarios. A telephone call, note, or email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity to meet with them is often appropriate. You might stop by to do a follow-up if the company is locally located and you’ve been invited to do so. And even if your interview ended badly or you don’t think you have a shot at the job, a follow-up or thank you is still appropriate because even though you don’t think so, you may still be in the running for the job and it could be worth a call or email to find out.

*About the author: Tom Becker is a writer for Money Choices where he writes impartial reviews of high interest savings accounts and other financial products.

A Comprehensive List of Helpful Job Search Resources

Spending too much time on Google looking for job search resources? Looking for some new insight into job hunting, but frustrated to find articles that repeat the same old boring advice for the millionth time? Well, look no further. I have collected here some of the best resources on the web related to job search, ranging from basics to new-age tips. I have limited the number of links in each sub category to the best 5 (in my opinion, of course) to avoid information overload. Chances are, between these links (and the “related articles” links within them) most of your questions will be answered. If you know of resources that are better than the ones mentioned here, you are welcome to list them in the comments section. However, I reserve the right to delete comments with spammy links or links to rote tips. So, here we go.

To get that dream job (with the killer salary) you need to –

  1. Have a stellar resume
  2. Add a cover letter
  3. Do an electronic job search in parallel
  4. Know the company (and modify your resume and cover letter, if necessary)
  5. Prepare for phone interview
  6. Prepare for the face-to-face interview
  7. Leverage behavioral interviews
  8. Dress appropriately, know the etiquette
  9. Deal with multiple offers
  10. Be able to negotiate salary

With so many good resources out there, I am sure you will be able to find that dream job and get that killer salary. Be sure to let me know how your search turned out – I love comments from readers 🙂 Good Luck.

The Multiple Job Offers FAQ

(I have experience with technical job hunting only. I assume some of these will be valid for non-technical jobs too, but cannot guarantee it.)

  1. Why is it important to get multiple job offers?
    You wouldn’t marry the first guy/gal you met, would you? Finding a job is similar. Multiple offers give you more choice. You will be spending more than eight hours every single day at this job for a very long time. Isn’t it better to start out with several choices and pick the one that best suits you?

    In addition to that, when a company that you interview for, knows that you have other offers, they will perceive you as a person in-demand. Psychologically, this works in your favor, and could also impact the offer you receive.

    Finally, if you have only one offer, it may be a bit difficult to ask for a better package (even though most companies leave room for negotiation). With multiple job offers, you will have more confidence and ability to negotiate.

  2. Whoopeedooo. I have an offer! What should I do now?

    First make sure your offer is in writing. A verbal offer from the manager you interviewed with is great, but unless you have it in writing it does not count!

    Second, reply back immediately thanking them for the offer.

    Third, even if you are not expecting other offers, let the company know that you will consider the offer and get back to them soon. Do not accept the offer as soon as it is made, unless there is a very bad job slump or it is your ideal job/salary anyway. It reeks of desperation and destroys any opportunity you have for negotiating.

    Fourth, scramble as hell to get more interviews and offers before the time set by the first company to accept the offer runs out. (Of course, it is even better if you planned ahead and applied at multiple locations and have interviews lined up already. In such a case, call the other comapnies and reschedule the interviews, so they can be completed before the time limit from the first company runs out).

  3. Will having multiple job offers not confuse me?

    Not if you are prepared. Before you start your job search make a list of what you would like from your ideal job. List out all that is important to you, such as work environment, what kind of work would you be most happy with, co-worker attitudes, work hours, the geographical area that you best like, the perks you would love to have, vacation days, health insurance benefits, commute time etc. Make the list very quantitative. For example, instead of “I would like a good salary”, list “I would like a salary in the range $X to $Y”. Then order the list according to your priorities. When you have multiple offers and are confused, you can refer to this cheat sheet to guide you into making the right choice.

  4. How long will companies wait for a decision after making an offer?

    Most large companies will be willing to wait for a few weeks. In such a case immediately acknowledge the receipt of the offer by thanking them for the offer and mentioning that you will get back to them soon. Smaller companies may not be able to offer much time though. You could still request for a few days of time. However, if they do not agree, you will have to decide on whether to push your luck or not, based on your perception of how much the company really wants to hire you.

  5. Will a company withdraw its offer if I ask for more time to decide?

    That depends on how much time you have already asked 🙂 Usually, the first time you request for some time, if you do it nicely, they will not withdraw the offer. They may not give you as much time as you like, but there is no reason for them to withdraw their offer. But if you keep dilly-dallying for too long, you never know :)Also, be aware of the market circumstances before you proceed – during the recession, there were a lot more experienced people looking for jobs than the number of jobs available. In such a market, it is probably not a good idea to delay when you get an offer.

  6. I have an offer from one company and expecting to hear from another. I do not want to lose the offer on hand, but would really like to wait to hear the other offer before making a decision. What should I do?

    Honesty is always the best policy. Tell the HR of the company that has made the offer that you are expecting to hear from another company and would like to know all your options before making a decision. This could be a fairly tricky conversation, so be prepared to phrase it right. Mention clearly that you are interested in this offer, but would like to wait just to have all our options. Never give away the impression that you like the other company better (even if you do). If you can’t tell them outright that you are waiting on another offer, try other delay tactics. Mention that you need to discuss it with your spouse. In the extreme case, if the job requires relocation, you could ask for an exploratory trip. Or you could request for a meeting with the colleagues/managers to buy more time. Remember though that the HR does this for a job and have probably seen all these tactics before and can immediately see them for what they are. So use it with caution. 

    I personally am not a big fan of these tactics and prefer to be honest.Also, equally important, let the second company know that you have another offer on hand and press them to speed up their decision process. One of the companies I interviewed with (and eventually ended up accepting the offer from), had the hard-copy of the written offer at my doorstep in 3 business days! I wasn’t even graduating or joining the job until after 8 months, but they went the extra mile since I was interested in them and they in me and I really had to respond to my other offers within the end of that week. So, there is no harm in requesting them to hasten the process. (This could also be a good chance to evaluate how much/little bureaucracy the company has!)

  7. I have an offer from company “grouchy widgets” and waiting to hear from company “fantabulous future gadgets”. I really want to wait, but the HR at “grouchy widgets” is applying too much pressure. What should I do?

    Request to speak with the manager whom you will be working with and ask him to intervene on your behalf to get you some time. Generally speaking, the managers want you to be sure you are happy to join their group rather than be confused and second guessing yourself. If the manager is also putting pressure, then ask yourself, how badly do you want this job, and would you be willing to work for people who are already putting so much pressure on you and are so inflexible. Ultimately, remember, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

  8. How do I evaluate the job offers and negotiate for better package?

    Thought you’d never ask! I have a whole series dedicated to that very question. Check it out.

  9. Once I have made my decision, how do I “reject” the companies that I have decided not to accept the offer from?

    Let them down easy. Use a reasonable excuse, such as “after discussing with my wife/husband we have decided that it is not a good option for us to relocate right now” or “I think it is best for me at this time to get a job with a small (or big) company. However, I was very impressed with your company and hope that in the future, I will have an opportunity to work with you” or “I was really impressed with the people I spoke with during the interview process, but right now, I want to stay focused on XYZ technology. In the future, if I decide to work with the ABC system, I hope you will consider speaking with me again” etc.

  10. When should I stop looking for better offers?

    Once you accept an offer, you should stop looking for more jobs. If you still have interviews in the pipeline, call them and politely explain that you are not interested in pursuing those options right now. Ethically, accepting an offer and still continuing to negotiate with other companies opens a very unpleasant can of worms. Career-wise if either of the companies found out that you are doing it, you may burn your bridges for ever. What makes things worse is that, the tech industry is really a very small world. You don’t know whom you will bump into again in a later part of your career. Don’t start out by making enemies! Know when to be greedy, and when not to.

Good Luck!