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I got an offer for a permanent full time position, but oddly enough the generated offer letter says the position is short term unless mutually agreed otherwise in writing.

The recruiter insists she did everything she could to correct the wording but couldn't, and that in the system they have me marked as full time. I noticed she didn't say permanent though.

She urges me to accept the offer and emphasized in the email that the position is indeed for a full-time position.

What should I do? I'm a little turned off by the offer now that it had to be revised for mistakes in compensation multiple times, but it is a big company and a position I am interested in working in.

Edit: the position is in the states, and the recruiter is an internal one. The manager and recruiter agree it is supposed to be a permanent position, and the recruiter says she is working with IT to fix it. But it seems to be taking a long time. The offer letter requires me to sign it so I guess it is kind of a contract, not sure.

Edit 2: she fixed the contract but adjusted my compensation, citing stock increase (it decreased though). I think the overall value dropped but she claims it increased. I only have till tomorrow to sign it:

Offer letter details changed after recruiter fixed errors

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  • 77
    Note that full time and short term are not mutually exclusive. Full time is about how many hours you do in a week, short term is how long you are contracted for.
    – User65535
    Apr 12 at 10:14
  • 43
    Keep in mind that the recruiter, and I assume by that you mean an outside recruiter, is paid by the company when you take the job. So her motivations are not the same as yours.
    – jwh20
    Apr 12 at 10:50
  • 3
    do you have any contact info of employees working at the company e.g. those you interviewed with? The recruiter is generally the least motivated party involved since you're just one out of a million clients they're trying to place at a thousand companies, so reaching out to the company directly may be the best bet here. The recruiter will be angry, but they already had their chance to resolve the problem and failed/didn't try, so...
    – CCJ
    Apr 12 at 17:26
  • @jwh20 - how recruiters are paid varies from company to company (and perhaps there are country differences as well). All the contracts I have had in the UK the recruiter gets paid for every day I work on that contract - either a percentage of the daily rate or a fixed daily amount.
    – deep64blue
    Apr 12 at 19:02
  • 5
    Can you edit your post and add a location? Laws and practices vary by country. Apr 13 at 6:00

15 Answers 15

159

One liner: Unless it is mentioned in writing in the contract or in the offer letter, it is not true.

Do not "assume" anything, regardless of who is saying that. Consider whatever is written, as only accept / sign if you're okay with the terms and conditions mentioned in writing.

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    Unwritten promises aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on when it comes to employment agreements ;)
    – ColleenV
    Apr 12 at 12:06
  • 79
    And don't trust recruiters, they get paid when someone is recruited. She will say anything to get you to sign, otherwise she won't get her money.
    – Polygorial
    Apr 12 at 16:34
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    From the recruiter's perspective, the company is the client, and the candidate is the product. You're NEVER the recruiter's client. Never. There is no scenario where this happens unless you hired the "recruiter", but those aren't called recruiters at that point.
    – Nelson
    Apr 13 at 1:24
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    There is no contract mentioned in the question, just an offer letter.
    – gerrit
    Apr 13 at 11:44
  • 5
    An offer letter is a contract. It states in writing what the terms of employment are. If you sign it you are accepting the terms in the letter. Apr 13 at 23:40
88

What should I do? I'm a little turned off by the offer now that it had to be revised for mistakes in compensation multiple times, but it is a big company and a position I am interested in working in.

Tell her you need it revised/corrected before you will accept it. If it was revised before, it can be revised again. If she is having difficulty getting it done, you might reach out to the hiring manager and get their assistance.

Don't worry about the mistakes in the offer letter. While this recruiter may not be doing a great job, that doesn't mean the company or your specific job will be bad.

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    Love this - humans make mistakes (which sometimes turn out better than our intentions!) and I can look past that to a point. What defines our character is how we handle mistakes. Honest people don't mind getting in writing!!
    – corsiKa
    Apr 13 at 1:29
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    _ If it was revised before, it can be revised again._ Well, that's only true if the company ever actually intended to offer OP a full-time, permanent position. We don't know that that's the case, so OP should be mentally prepared for the possibility of a disappointing outcome here. (I still agree with your actionable advice though.)
    – Dan Romik
    Apr 13 at 7:33
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    While this recruiter may not be doing a great job, that doesn't mean the company or your specific job will be bad. True. But in the event where the company doesn't actually come through with the revised offer, it probably does mean that the recruiter is bad, and that OP should find another recruiter to work with for their job search going forward.
    – Dan Romik
    Apr 13 at 7:36
  • Does an offer letter need signing by the candidate/employee? I've only ever signed contracts, never offer letters.
    – gerrit
    Apr 13 at 11:45
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    I like this because it actually says what to do. (Replace "sign" with "accept" as appropriate.) Apr 14 at 2:39
41

I agree with the other answers: you sign what is written. If it doesn't say full time permanent, it isn't.

But just as a thought experiment, let's assume they all are telling the absolute truth. It's too much work to change now, but they will change it later.

Do you really want to work for a company whose standard operating procedure is "doing a sloppy job full of errors, but not feeling bound to any contracts we sign"? Do you want that company to handle your paychecks?

31

At this point, it starts looking more and more like a bait and switch tactic because they promise you a full-time permanent position and yet ask you to accept a short term position in the offer letter urgently.

If you really need a job to pay the bill and don't have any other offer in sight yet, you may have to sign the contract as the last resort.

But, if you have any other offers or future job interviews coming up and don't really need to take this job right now, then you should definitely ask the recruiter to fix the job title before signing it.

Can you at least ask the recruiter to fix the job title and change it to full-time permanent within the next 1 or 2 days ? There should be plenty of time to fix it if the company really wants to.

21

If they were unable to "correct" the wording, then it's because they don't deem it to be incorrect. If it's not supposed to be short-term, and was presented to you as not a short-term to hire opportunity DO NOT SIGN IT.

If you sign it, you are agreeing to what that letter says, not what they are promising to revise it to in the future.

Tell them you aren't interested in a short-term position. Period.

The recruiter gets paid when someone signs on with the client company. Of course she's urging you to take it. The recruiter gets paid a fee by the company. That means, first and foremost, she works for THEM.

You are product that she is selling to them.

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    I would prefer to say that recruiters work for THEMSELVES. They often will hire against the interests of both you, the potential employee, and the company, by the shady tactic of filling a seat with someone who did not want what they get.
    – Dúthomhas
    Apr 12 at 15:47
  • The distinction I was making was more about who pays the recruiter for their work, and was commenting on the priorities of someone who was considered relatively ethical and good at their job. But, yeah, people will take shortcuts if they see the money looming. Apr 14 at 12:39
11

I'm going to slightly disagree with other answerers/commenters: neither the recruiter nor the company are "lying" to you, but most likely the recruiter is deceiving you.

Bottom line is: the offer is for a full-time, short-term position; and both the written offer AND the recruiter are telling you such. There's no error in wording, no mismatch in what they're telling to you, and nothing to change or correct.

Now, I don't think this is a red flag as big as others have mentioned it can be (this might be more the external recruiter doing its job, and not the company having a shady hiring process), nonetheles if you're ONLY interested in a permament position, you should clearly state that, making sure that both you and the recruiter are aware of the difference between full-time and permament.

If the offer stays as a short-term position and you're not interested on that, reject the offer and keep looking.

11

Recruiters do not work for you

Ignore everything the recruiter says, they work for the company not you and their best interests and yours do not align. If you interviewed for a job expecting permanent, full time, you should not take a job offer for a job that is not. Someone has been misleading you which means you cannot trust them. Whether it is the company or the recruiter who misled you, you cannot tell, so I would reject the job as offered and look for different positions unless there is something truly exceptional about the offered position.

Remember that even if you manage to get the contract sorted, it will likely include a probation period anyway, so if they are dishonest and wish to ditch you after a short term period they can.

10

As other answers have said, if it isn't confirmed in writing, then it isn't contractual. End of story.

I don't buy that she can't get it done because (whatever woo woo explanation she may have given). A system that doesn't let people fix errors in their written letters and contracts? Despite "trying everything"? Hmmm.

I'd handle it this way:

  1. Ask her more specifically, what is the problem. What has she tried? This is for background and to see if it's plausible.
  2. Ask her, is she saying then that it should say permanent, and the employer agrees its permanent, and it says so on the system?
  3. Double check her answer, "So the employer says its permanent, its just a printout issue of some kind?"
  4. Then finally, "Fine, in that case I'd like a 2 line letter or email from the employer just to confirm for the record that it is correctly understood as permanent, and that the offer statement that it's short term is incorrect."

You need it from the employer not her, because then its enforceable as part of your contract with the employer, and they can't shrug it off as an incorrect statement by a third party.

What will happen, she will either say "sure" or "I'll ask and see what I can do", or she will come up with instant excuses why they won't do that, or can't do that, or you don't need that.

Outcomes:

If she says "fine!", then let her get on with it. She either gets you that email/letter or fails. If she fails, see below. If she succeeds, make sure its from the employer, not just from the agency or on the employers behalf. You want the employer to confirm it, themselves.

If FOR ANY REASON ON EARTH she doesn't. Or its not signed and sent by the employer themself. Or they can't or won't. Or she doesn't want to disturb them. Or its taking inordinate time or the right person isnt doing it. Or ANY OTHER REASON ON THE PLANET. Or ANY OTHER OUTCOME ON THE PLANET OTHER THAN EXACTLY WHAT YOU ASKED FOR.....

Then be as tactful or as scathing as you like, because games are going on.

They want to recruit you, they (allegedly!) agree there's a mysterious error that the employer wants to say perm but somehow can't fix it, and yet the employer somehow can't agree or manage to write a 2 line letter/email to say "Dear Name, please disregard short term it should say permanent, in your contract, and amend your copy. Yours truly"?

Bullshit. Leave and make clear in a totally professional way that you do not feel the trust that you would need, to take up the offer. Or if tactful is your style, that in light of their inability to produce a 2 line email from the employer confirming what they say the employer totally agrees to, and agrees is mis-printed, you are unable to.

They'll get the idea.

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    Editing a copy of a document is trivial work. If there's a problem, it's with the people. Either they're wildly incompetent (which judging by some of the so-called office professionals I've encountered, isn't even unlikely) or they're willfully messing OP around to get them to sign on for something they don't really want. Apr 14 at 8:44
  • Exactly. So lets notionally buy into their story, box them into agreeing it's the former and confirm they say that they really do want to fix it, then see if it fixes, or more excuses.
    – Stilez
    Apr 14 at 12:59
5

Every new contract contains clause that you can be terminated for cause at any time during the work and for any reason whatsoever during probation.

But this employer sound a bit sketchy, changing term even before you start, so if you are SWITCHING jobs, maybe stay with what you have.

But in the other case, you may take it, being fully aware that you should move on as soon as you get the chance.

The main question you need to ask yourself is this:

Do i want to take this job even if it is a short term?

And if the answer is NO - do not take it.

2

If you're not in desperate need of a job then respectfully decline.

Recruiter,

At this time I would like to decline the offer. The terms of the contract are not suitable for me.

Thank you

2

Let's add another answer, because we don't have all the possibilities yet, and this could be a quick fix:

Edit the contract yourself

Change the wording, strike "temporary" and write "permanent" above, and sign next to it. Now sign at the bottom. Do that for as many copies as needed (at least two).

Make sure you get a copy with their signature on (twice!) to keep for yourself.

There, you fixed their printer problem.

1

An error in an offer letter is not a big deal. An error in a contract, however, is serious.

I don't know the legal status of an offer letter, but it's not a contract. An offer letter is just to inform you that you will be offered a job. The contract, whenever it comes, will clearly stipulate if the position is temporary or permanent. If there is an error in the contract, you should insist on it being corrected.

At one workplace where I worked, the offer letter had an error. The admin person says she could print out a new one, but it would cause a delay because it would have to go through the whole admin hierarchy again, and the delay would risk impacting my starting date. She told me this error was hers and did not affect the contract, which was prepared elsewhere. When I came to sign the contract, everything was fine.

I would proceed with the employer, but make sure that the contract correctly states your position is permanent.

1

We use recruiting agencies where I work and I'll just say how that works for us, because it is a little bit of a gray area, with the disclaimer of "I have not read your contracts so maybe yours is different":

We want to hire for a full time permanent position. The recruitment agency gives us candidates that we contract, short term, through that agency. For the duration of that contract, the person technically is employed by the agency -- we pay the agency, the agency pays the employee (all benefits, PTO, etc, are also handled by the recruitment agency). At the end of the short term contract, we either decide to pick up the person full time and hire them directly or we don't pick them up and the agency looks for somewhere else to place them.

So both sides are probably being honest enough but the recruitment agency is going to get their paycheck through that short term contract and the company using the agency is telling you that it's a permanent position (i.e., a long term need) but really that starts at the end of your recruitment contract, if they still want you. (Versus a true short term position where the company would not expect to keep you after the contract, regardless of how well it goes, because it really was just a short term need.)

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    When a recruiting agency helps your company hire a full time permanent position, do you also pay the agency if the position is advertised a full time permanent to job applicants ? Apr 12 at 22:00
  • @JoeStrazzere: OP was not exactly verbose so I'm reading in between the lines. We are hiring for permanent, full time positions. If we fill that position through the recruitment agency then it's still a "permanent full time position" but the agency has its own unavoidable contract period, which is how they make their money (we pay them, they take their cut, they pay the employee that is under their contract). The intent is that when the contract is up, we then hire the person directly. Unless we decide it wasn't working out. In that sense, NO position is "permanent".
    – JamieB
    Apr 13 at 21:39
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    But, by contrast, it is not a "temporary position". The job itself will not end in 6 months when the contract is up. Whether the recruitment contract converts to a direct hire is the question. OP may want a guarantee of that and I can't fathom anyone guaranteeing any such thing. It would be like asking someone to hire you with a guarantee of no layoffs or firings for any reason whatsoever within the next 6 months.
    – JamieB
    Apr 13 at 21:52
  • @JoeStrazzere - I think it's exactly OP's situation and he just is confused by the recruitment agency's role in the deal. I think part of the confusion here is the idea of "permanent position". That means the job itself is long term. Temporary positions are short term work -- I normally have 5 people but for the next 3 months I need 10 people; or I have a specific job that will take 6 months, then end. Those are temporary positions. Temp to perm would mean we find some new position for them once their time is up. Using a recruitment agency for a permanent position is not the same thing.
    – JamieB
    Apr 14 at 13:28
0

If the job is otherwise good, and you want it, take it.

Why? Because the distinction between long term and short term in an offer letter doesn't make any real-world difference. If it were a contract with a specific duration, e.g., "6 months" or "2 years," that'd be different, but this sounds like a more vague and less binding offer of full-time employment.

In theory, if you were let go after 6 months you could maybe sue or file a complaint. You'd then probably need to prove that they in fact never intended to keep you on a long-term basis. In the US where there's limited worker protections. Against a big company. Probably with an arbitrator that the company chooses ... that sounds practically impossible and almost certainly not worthwhile.

On the other hand, some/many/most big companies don't like churn. If you're doing good work, and the project you're working on ends, you'll probably be well positioned to move onto another project.

0

Let's offer a controversial answer, because all of the other answers are almost all saying the same thing.

Accept the offer

Yes. The contract says it's temporary, but she said it's permanent, and she works for the company. You have that on mail, black on white, on your own computer?

When you (an individual) take them (a company) to court, the judge will rule in your favor. Courts want individuals to be protected from companies pulling that shit.

Between companies, what you sign is what you get. Between an individual and a company, the burden of proof is lower: when a company sends you an email, that can be proof enough. Take it.

Smallprint: IANAL, and this is under Belgian law. Your mileage might very. Get a backup plan for when the company decides this indeed was a temporary position.

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