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I’m an embedded software engineer with about 4 years of experience. I’m currently looking for my next role and received a job offer. Unfortunately, neither the recruiter nor HR had a correct job description so I can’t verify exactly what the job entails are. The job offer is for a software engineering role that is non-exempt and pays hourly 45 dollars per hour, which means it will pay overtime. I’ve never heard of a full time engineering job which has an hourly rate. Is this common practice? Also, what kind of “software engineering” work can I expect to receive if the job is non-exempt? (isn’t the definition of a exempt software job one where you have to use reasoning skills, in others words, it’s a job where you design and write code)?

  • I'm assuming this is in the US? – Erik Jun 13 '17 at 6:09
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    "neither the recruiter nor HR had a correct job description" - Ask for an interview with the man or woman who will be your boss. That person should be able to answer. – Brandin Jun 13 '17 at 6:15
  • Are you sure it is a full time job? It sounds like it could be part time – Juha Untinen Jun 13 '17 at 6:15
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    hourly rate sounds more like a short term contracting/free lance position than a full time long term position in the company. – jwenting Jun 13 '17 at 8:19
  • Is full-time non-exempt common? Yes. Other than that there is no way we can guess what you will be doing on the job. You need to ask the company, not us. – David K Jun 13 '17 at 12:28
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The software industry in the US is an odd animal. One of the quirks I've run into at nearly every job I've had is that even if I'm "exempt" and "salaried", I still am forced to record my hourly activity. Some places would like you to be able to record to the nearest 1/10 of an hour. On my current job I'm officially on a 40 hour week but "strongly encouraged" to work 44+ hours. Some jobs pay you overtime even if you are exempt, others don't.

If you are non-exempt, that does sound more like a contracting job than employee. In practice, it might not make a difference. A lot of companies bring in contractors as a probation period before they hire them or because they don't want to deal with HR in-house. But it's good advice to double check on that.

Sometimes it varies depending on state or industry. Department of Defense contracts operate very differently than a gaming company.

Is this common practice?

The best answer I can give to that is: It's not uncommon. Recruiters and HR usually don't mind if you come back with more questions. In fact, it could be seen as a sign you are really interested in the job. I'd call up and ask for clarification.

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    @JoeStrazzere Actually...that depends. For example, I'm on a contract (in the US) but was required to be a W2 with the supplier, as per their contract with the end customer. They pay me by the hour; I'm exempt in name only, not in practice. As bluegreen said, the software industry in the US is an odd animal. – Scraping Infinity Jun 13 '17 at 17:34
  • @JoeStrazzere No, it affects my paycheck. If I work a 50 hour week, I get paid for 50 hours. If I work a 35 hour week, I get a 35 hour check (I just double checked). It balances out over time. – bluegreen Jun 13 '17 at 17:53
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    @JoeStrazzere I've had that argument with management, HR, payroll, everyone many times at many companies...I agree that I'm not treated like a salaried employee, but on all the paperwork and our HR employee information page it says clearly "FLSA: Salary Exempt" – bluegreen Jun 13 '17 at 18:00
  • @bluegreen Then they're either lying or incompetent. – JAB Jun 13 '17 at 22:22
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Unfortunately, neither the recruiter nor HR had a correct job description so I can’t verify exactly what the job entails are.

I think it would be foolish to accept an offer for a job when you have no idea what you would be doing.

I also think it's odd that you could go through interviews and be offered a job without ever having discussed the details of the job other than "It's embedded software engineering, non-exempt and $45/hr."

Something seems fishy here.

But either way, just ask for another interview with your future manager, HR or whoever else can discuss the job details. This time - ask questions. And don't stop asking until you understand what you would be getting into and can make an informed decision.

If for some odd reason the company won't give you another interview, then just walk away and look for another job.

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It isn't necessarily a problem that the job has an hourly, non-exempt rate. I work for a large, US organisation and our, more junior, US positions are quoted with an hourly rate although they're, in reality, salaried i.e. they're paid for a set number of hours. Up until a year or so ago the junior positions were also paid overtime although that was stopped in favour of a bonus scheme.

Having said that, you should confirm with the recruiter/HR what your minimum contractual hours will be and expectation for overtime. If there's no minimum then that would be a red flag for me.

I would be very cautious about accepting an offer without confirming what the actual job is with someone directly familiar with the role i.e. not HR or the recruiter. Your prospective direct manager would obviously be preferable but, at the very least, the hiring manager or an engineering representative of the department you will be working in.

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