By Michael Solomon, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of 10x Ascend, a company that helps developers and other technologists negotiate the best compensation package possible.
When talking about employment, you often hear people say things like, “It’s a two-way street.” Or, “You’re interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing you.”
These common sayings hold a lot of merit and should be embraced by those entering a job interview or negotiation. But when we think about the dynamics of a typical job search, why doesn’t the process reflect the idea that it is indeed a two-way street? Consider the list of things an employer almost always controls (or at least tries to):
- Job descriptions and expectations
- Required experience level
- When and where interviews take place
- Who sits in on the interview
- Timeline for next steps
Granted, some of these things don’t make sense for the candidate to control. But take a step back and it doesn’t seem very balanced, does it? Much of the time, you must prove to the employer why you’re worthy, instead of the company explaining why they deserve to have YOU.
Today, if you’re applying for a job, few practices are used to achieve the actualization of the two-way street ideology. Let’s change that. We envision a future where job candidates balance out the scales by providing potential employers something entirely new: an Employment List of Expectations and Priorities (LEAP).
What is an Employment L.E.A.P.?
An Employment L.E.A.P. is a document written by a job candidate and presented to an employer to help them understand what the candidate hopes to get out of an employment agreement. This is quite a break away (and improvement) from job offers that are typically made with employers only having asked, “What are your salary requirements?”
Our hypothesis here is simple: If the company provides a detailed document (a job description) about what they want, shouldn’t the candidate do the same? The results would be mutually beneficial. On one side of the table, the company would be better equipped to present an appealing, customized offer to the candidate. On the other side, the candidate would be much more likely to accept.
We have seen many times how this information helps companies save money and make a difficult decision a little easier. If everyone involved is not aligned on what a successful offer looks like, the process drags on, or worse, falls short entirely. Then nobody wins.
In this post, we’ll examine how to write an Employment L.E.A.P., what information should be included, and how to go about presenting them effectively.
Employment L.E.A.P. vs. Resume vs. Job Description
Most of us are familiar with the standard documents involved in applying for a job. Here we’d like to distinguish how an Employment L.E.A.P. differs from a resume, and how you can pull inspiration from job descriptions to write yours effectively.
First and foremost, your L.E.A.P. is not a resume, but there might be some overlap in the content included in the two documents.
Your resume is a place to document your work history, experience, skills, and any other relevant information related to your abilities. It should be factual and objective. An employer should be able to look at your resume (or LinkedIn) and see if, on paper, you might make a good fit.
Your L.E.A.P. should take things a step further. This is where you can explain your expectations, priorities, and goals for what you hope to get out of being an employee for this company – salary, company culture, and any details regarding a potential work arrangement with this company (more details below).
Be careful not to “jump the gun” in presenting your L.E.A.P.. We’ll get into this in more detail later, but keep in mind that in order for your L.E.A.P. to be effective, you must strike the right balance in deciding when and how to present this information.
vs. Job Description
If a job description outlines the expectations and requirements of a vacant role, your L.E.A.P. is largely the same thing – it just comes from the other side of the table.
Consider some of the most standard elements of a job description: requirements, experience level, reporting structure, title, etc. These are all things that are spelled out by the employer in an effort to explain what they want, and who they expect might fit the bill.
Your L.E.A.P. should aim to achieve the same goals. Through your L.E.A.P., you can reclaim some of the power in the exchange by explaining what YOU expect. Just like they’re looking for the perfect candidate to fit the job opening, you’re looking for the perfect company to meet the requirements you’re laying forth.
Some important elements that come to mind here include expectations for salary, equity, remote work, budget for operations, bonus agreements, etc. These are all things that, if you are a viable candidate, can and should be requested depending on how important they are to you..
For an extensive list of items to potentially include in your L.E.A.P., take a look at our Lifestyle Calculator, which allows you to rank the elements of a job description that are most important to you. It comes as a surprise to many that there are 24 unique items that you might want to focus on when negotiating your job offer.
When to Present Your Employment L.E.A.P.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at a L.E.A.P. template, which we hope ties everything together. Here, let’s talk about timing – when is it appropriate to submit an Employment L.E.A.P. to an employer?
The truth is, you’ll only want to submit this document after convincing the company of your value, once it looks like things might be moving forward and the company has signaled they are likely to make an offer. The other obvious time is when they ask about your salary requirements.
Make sure not to present your L.E.A.P. too early, as this might be perceived as presumptive or premature. Again, the point is to provide the employer with a resource that helps them craft an attractive offer based on your preferences and requests. If it’s unclear that an offer will be made, probably best to exercise self-awareness and hold off until you’re more confident in your chances.
How Does It Look in Practice?
So what does a L.E.A.P. actually look like? We recognize that, while practical and useful, presenting this information is a bit unconventional.
First and foremost, framing the presentation of your L.E.A.P. is perhaps the most important part of this process. Since this is a new practice, we want to be very careful to wrap it in the right bow.
In the next two subsections, we’ve created an example email explaining why you’re sending your L.E.A.P., and a template for actually presenting the L.E.A.P.. For those looking to draw inspiration, we highly suggest customizing both to fit your own unique situation.
Employment L.E.A.P. Email
Dear > First Name, <
Thanks so much for all the time thus far. As it would seem we are moving into the phase where we discuss the parameters of a deal and my employment, I took the liberty of creating and Employment List of Expectations and Priorities – this is a new-ish concept used to help companies make offers that best meet the goals of both the employees and the employer.
A few very important notes: I am hopeful this document will be helpful in understanding what is important to me and will not in any way be perceived as presumptuous. I fully recognize that some of my hopes may not be possible in the confines of your policies and precedent, but I would be remiss if I was not clear in what I wanted.
I don’t expect to get everything on this list, but do want to have an open and honest dialogue. I know that when empowered with this information, companies get more deals getting done and achieve better employee/employer satisfaction and retention.
In short, I am saying that there is value for both of us in this document. After you have had a chance to review, please let me know if you have questions. If it is all clear, I very much look forward to receiving your offer and working toward becoming a part of your team.
Employment L.E.A.P. Template
Dear > First Name, <
I am submitting this Employment List of Expectations and Priorities in an effort to explain my expectations for the > Name of Role < at > Name of Company <. It is my hope that this will help > Name of Company < craft an offer that allows us to swiftly move forward and begin working together soon.
For this role, I am seeking the following:
- Base Salary: x-y (X should equal the lowest you would accept this job for and Y should be the highest that you could imagine them or a similar company paying for this role.)
- Bonus: x
- Equity: $x vesting over y years
- Vacation (Paid Time Off): x days/year
- Starting Title: > Title <
- Flex Time: The ability to work from home or remotely x days / week or month
- Pension, Health & Other Benefits: > Questions or Concerns <
- Relocation budget (If applicable): What is your policy on this? I have heard you often provide funding for the move and housing for the first 6 months.
- Office: I have a strong preference for an office with a door as I do my most productive and best work without too many distractions.
- Outside Projects: This would be where you list any board seats or outside projects you hope to continue while under their employment.
- Anything else on your wishlist:
Thank you for taking the time to consider my goals for this role. I sincerely hope they will be helpful. I’m excited by the possibility of moving forward with > Name of Company <.
> Name <
Once again, the details of your own L.E.A.P. will depend on your own unique situation. Maybe you want to write yours like a letter, similar to the template above. Or maybe you want to present the information in a more straight-forward manner, like you would with a resume.
What’s most important is that you balance out the employer-employee power dynamic by clearly communicating your expectations for the role. Ultimately, you’ll need to use your discretion in how and when to present these expectations appropriately. When done correctly, the result is a well-crafted job offer that minimizes the number of negotiation cycles required. That means less time talking about the job and more time actually doing the job.