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I've signed an agreement to repay the costs of training (a few thousand $$) in the event I leave the company within X period of time. The training is for an industry specific certificate which I've just completed.

Is it reasonable to ask a new employer to "buy me out" of the obligation (i.e. pay the money back on my behalf) in order to start work with them within that period, if they will be benefiting from that training? Does it make a difference whether I applied for the job, or was "poached"?

10

I think it's very reasonable and can be used as a substitution for a signing bonus.

It won't hurt you if you ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they'll refuse. However I would only do it when you get to the "offer" stage and you know for sure they're interested in hiring you.

9

Is it reasonable to ask a new employer to "buy me out" of the obligation (i.e. pay the money back on my behalf) in order to start work with them within that period, if they will be benefiting from that training?

It's perfectly reasonable to discuss your buyout situation. Motivated companies will sometimes pay the buyout amount to acquire your services sooner. Some companies will factor that buyout cost into their offer to you. Part of the decision may hinge on the cost and the time duration.

Ask about it, and be prepared with your response to either a "Yes" or "No" answer. (It may very well be "No", since this is your problem not theirs, and they may not want to be the solution.)

Does it make a difference whether I applied for the job, or was "poached"?

Sometimes.

Being approached by the hiring company might indicate that they are very motivated and willing to pay the buyout.

3

It's obviously Ok to ask them.

Let's say you made $X per year. The training cost $Y. After the training your value for the company increased (by more than $Y obviously). The company quite obviously doesn't want to pay for the training and then not get the benefits.

If the new company benefits from the training, they have the choice of hiring you, or hiring someone without the training and paying $Y for training. In that case you would expect either a higher salary than the other guy, or for the new company to pay some of the cost. So it's reasonable that you ask, and reasonable to expect either help for the repayment or a higher salary.

If the new company doesn't benefit from the training, it should be obvious to them that you don't like leaving your old company if it means you have to pay back this money. They either want you so much that they help with your decision, or they don't. It's still reasonable to ask. It's reasonable for them to decide what they offer you. They might offer you nothing, half the money, all of it, depending on their situation and how much they want you.

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