Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Make 'em an Offer He Can't Refuse

The contract that I work on is up for renewal this year. Because of this many companies, including mine, are submitting bids to the government. A few weeks back Bossman brought in "commitment letters" for us to sign. At first we were a little worried about signing them but after reading them our fears were subsided. The letter simply stated that we would not give our resume to a competing bidder. I could go to another company if I so wished, but I couldn't have that company submit my resume as part of their package for my current job. Clear as mud? Good, let's move on!

I had no problem saying that I wouldn't give my resume to someone else because I honestly had no intention of doing that. Mostly because I know I'll be gone by the end of August anyway, but even if I wasn't I'm fairly content in my current position. I signed the letter and returned it to Bossman with a fake smile.

We had a meeting a few days later where Bosslady (who is higher up the chain) addressed the issue of the commitment letters. Her stance was, "If you're not committed to Company than Company is not committed to you and your resume will not be submitted as part of our package." I don't know what she meant, but I took it as a notice to look for another job if you don't sign these things.

Now we come to yesterday. I arrive to work and before I even sit down I'm told that the commitment letter has to be signed again because there was a rewording. Fine. Bossman brings new letters and they say the same thing except for this little paragraph at the bottom that states, "Upon reward I will be available for immediate start and will remain with the contract for a minimum of six months..." I looked at Bossman and said, "I can't promise you six months. It's nothing personal, but there is no way I can guarantee that." The others looked at me with shock. Eyebrows raised. Mouths dropped open. Car tires screeched in the background. If there was music it would have played "Dun Dun Daaaaaa". I basically gave my notice three weeks earlier than I wanted to.

Now, you're probably thinking, "You're leaving anyway, no big deal that you didn't sign!" And your are correct, however, even if I wasn't leaving I'd have a hard time with these letters. I get emails daily about positions that are opening from other companies as well as my own. If I had signed this and got an offer paying me more money closer to home I would be unable to pursue that job. As a financially strapped single parent my eyes where always open to better opportunities. Since I've decided on going back to school my interest has weened, but prior to that I gave every opening a thorough look. I would be unable to do that if I signed.

Over all I'm not worried about it because my path is set already. I feel bad for those that signed it and will get screwed over by it. I feel even worse for those that drank the Kool-Aide and signed it blindly. After two contracts with the military I am wary of any employment contracts. I'm also new to the civilian world so I'm not sure if this is something I can expect, but it doesn't seem to be common practice. Only time will tell. As for now, I wonder if the next six weeks will bring about any blow back from above.