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There aren’t many of us that enjoy filling out paperwork. Yet unfortunately, employment contracts are an inevitable part of most new roles. 

Sometimes in recruitment, we see negotiations hit a stalemate right at the end of the process simply because the candidate became nervous about a strongly worded contract. The majority of the time, these nerves are unfounded. 

We even occasionally see great candidates turn down fantastic roles because of a piece of legalese that is ultimately never going to affect them. Here are a few tips if you find yourself feeling a little uneasy about the contract that an employer has put in front of you.

  1. Contracts need to cover worst case scenarios. Yes, it’s important to take the time to read your contract thoroughly. And yes, you need to make sure you understand what all the clauses mean. But if there’s a clause that’s concerning you, consider whether it’s even applicable to your particular position. 

    What is the scenario that the company is concerned about? The majority of the time you’ll find the clause is there to prevent an issue that’s incredibly far removed from your own behavioural standards or anything you are likely to encounter in the job. 
  2. Remember that in general, the larger the company, the more likely they are to have a detailed and lengthy contract. Furthermore, if it’s a large company, then their contracts are going to be standardised across their employee base, or at a minimum, standardised for each department. As such, it’s incredibly unlikely you’re going to be able to get them to edit it for you. 

    Therefore, it’s a better course of action to learn as much as you can about why a particular clause has been included and what it’s trying to mitigate. Which brings me to our next tip…
  3. Just ask. Nine times out of 10 the employer is able to completely alleviate a potential employee’s concerns by explaining why the clause has been included. All you need to do is ask and it’s best to do this via email so that you have a written record of their response for future reference. Your recruiter can also help you. A knowledgeable and experienced recruiter will also be able to tell you whether a clause is especially unusual, or common practice for that industry. 

    In the rare instance that the contractual clause is still worrying you, you can always seek independent legal advice from a lawyer with expertise in that particular industry. They will be able to tell you whether the wording is particularly unorthodox and potentially make suggestions for you on how best to approach the issue. However, consulting a lawyer can be a costly and time-consuming endeavour – so we’d only recommend this if the employer and/or recruiter haven’t been able to put your mind at ease.

The important thing is don’t panic, keep an open mind, and take the time to have the conversation. Don’t jeopardise what might be an exciting opportunity to progress your career because of a couple of lines in a standardised contract.