Often, when applying for a job overseas, you are interviewed – either face to face or by video conferencing – and a few days later an offer pops into your email inbox. This offer can come in many shapes and sizes: purely a letter offering the job and then proposing to negotiate contract details with you; documentation sketching at least the broad outlines of the offer, including salary; or sometimes either a ‘specimen contract’ (not binding) or the genuine contract offered, which will need to be signed, scanned and returned if you want to take up the post. Obviously at this point you need to be very careful and to check absolutely everything before you commit to taking up the job.
The details to be investigated will differ in each case, of course, but there are several important points which should always be verified. Firstly, although the would-be employer may have specified either a monthly or an annual salary, how much of this will you actually receive: what deductions will apply, what is the rate of income tax? Secondly, if the salary is to be paid in the local currency, what has been the exchange rate against the Pound over the last twelve months, and how easy is it to transfer money from the country where you will work to UK? Most people, of course, find that even though they are overseas, they still have various bills and subscriptions to pay back home, and so transferring of funds (at a fair rate of exchange, and with reasonable bank charges) is a must. Thirdly, when will you receive your first salary and what (if anything) will the employer do to assist you during the first month or so before this happens?
Good employers will of course answer promptly and helpfully any queries you have. They will often allocate a suitable staff-member (with a good command of English) to act as a guide and mentor for you, in the weeks prior to travel and during the settling-in period. If the answers you receive from the employer are either very slow, very sketchy or unsatisfactory in content, you should seriously consider walking away. Moving abroad is a big step, and you should not take the risk of hitching your wagon to an institution unless it can demonstrate that it is professional and trustworthy.
The issues dealt with here relate only to salary. In my next post I will deal with other aspects of a job offer from an overseas HE institution.