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What Should You Clarify Before Accepting A Job Offer

catalinmpit profile image Catalin Pit Updated on ・3 min read

There are some essential points you should clarify before accepting a job offer. It is easy to miss them at the moment and take a job offer straight away.

As a result, in this article, I want to talk about some questions you should ask before accepting the offer. I suggest you make a small checklist because you might forget them in the interview.

Thus, the questions you could ask are as follows:

  1. Is the company claiming ownership if I release a side project?
  2. Does the company have a clear progression path?
  3. Does the company offer me a mentor?
  4. Is the company allowing me to contribute to open source projects?

Side project ownership

The first question you might want to ask is "is the company claiming ownership if I release free/paid side projects?". There are many examples where companies claimed ownership of the employee's projects. That can happen even if you build the project in your free time and on your equipment.

Therefore, you do not want to invest your resources and time to have a company "take" your project away. Moreover, you can even have legal disputes, which is even worse.

As a result, before accepting a job offer, ensure that the company does not claim ownership of your projects.

Clear progression path

Another important question is "do you have a clear progression path?". It is essential to know if you can progress in the company and what support is available for you.

The years of experience do not matter too much. The reason is that you can do a job for a long time without getting better at it. You have to try to improve actively.

As a result, your progress can stagnate. That means you do not improve as a developer and a person, and it is going to be difficult for you to find another job. Believe me; you do not want that to happen. Thus, ask the company how they support their employees to improve as developers and persons.

Open Source Projects

If the opportunity of contributing to an open-source project arises, can you do it? This is another point you want to clarify with your prospective employers.

Contributing to open-source projects is an excellent way of getting out a rut, and improve your programming skills. As long as the projects do not clash with the company, they should allow you to contribute to open-source projects. And of course, as long as you do it in your free time.

In conclusion, do not forget to ask your prospective employer if they allow you to contribute to OSS.


Having a mentor is super beneficial for you. Especially at the beginning of your career. Being able to go to someone when you struggle to give you a hand is instrumental. However, do not confuse a mentor with a person that should spoon-feed you.

The mentors should be there to give you pointers and guide you. A mentor is not a person that solves your problems. However, if mentoring is available and done right, it is beneficial for both persons.

In conclusion, make sure the company is offering you mentorship. Proper mentorship helps you develop faster.


The questions from the article are not exhaustive, and you can add more questions. In fact, I would like to hear and discover more questions. You can never be too careful with contracts.

Until then, do not forget to ask about the:

  1. ownership of you side projects
  2. progression paths
  3. mentorship
  4. contributing to OSS

I hope the article helps you understand what should you clarify before accepting a job offer!

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Catalin Pit


AWS Community Builder ∙ Technical Writer ∙ Blogging on catalins.tech ∙ Interested in Web Dev and Cloud ∙ GitHubbing at github.com/catalinpit


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Thanks! Great article. Never would have thought of some of these and as someone hoping to make the jump from a stable career into development it of course comes with a little risk, so any tips like this help in making the right choice from the get-go!


Something i always ask when accepting a job offer: What do you expect from me? It is always very enlightening to hear the answer.


I think another good one is- are you entitled to be a part of companies warrant/ stock option program, often you are if you ask and you might not be if you are not asking. This as well can be a another space in which you can negotiate your contract.

Another one- is the lunch free or not? I literally negotiated my salary up just because I found out that it is not and proposed a raise that would cover my lunch.

Great article! :)


Both things you mention, if offered, are often used as "total pay" arguments to negotiate your salary down. The latter, just like arcade games and pinball/foosball/billiard tables, stocked break rooms, fancy coffee machines, beer taps, etc., are just ways to keep you in the office at lunch and beyond the workday, and you're often stigmatized as "not a team player" if you e.g. leave for lunch. I consider them red flags, not "perks."


Well it might as well depends where you are located. I live in Denmark and free lunch is not a given at your work place the same as stock options.

Personally I have used to these to negotiate my salary up and now several people who have done the same.

I do see you point if company advertises that, then it is meant to "negotiate it down". But it is not really a common case at least here where I live.


I don't understand how hobby/side projects made in one's free time are even a concern. What does the company care what I am doing while I am off the clock? And even if they care, how can they claim any rights on those projects? I am really confused how can this ever become a problem.


yeah, I didn't understand that one too, I thought that any side project that you made with resources of the company, they can reclaim to be theirs' (e.g. using the notebook or the wifi).
But in this case I think is ok, cause you're using resources from the company to build a project for yourself, just be careful not to used it and lose your project for a company.


Well because you may be developing a side project that looks very much like the same service you work on during the day. Also when your being paid to build someone’s hopes and dreams your not doing that if your focusing on your own hopes and dreams. My last 2 contracts both stated similar about side projects. I still work on side projects, I just don’t monetize them... then no one really cares.


Well, obviously don't steal from the work codebase, but whether I am working on my hopes and dreams when I come home from work or I am watching subpar Hollywood movies is none of the company's bussiness and I certainly don't have to even disclose what I am doing in my free time to the employer, regardless whether I am making money on it or not.

Like a don't even see how the company can even learn about it if they don't spy on me (which could be seen as invasion of privacy).

We may live in different parts of world though, which can contribute to this disconnect between my and your world :)

I agree. But that’s why the contracts specify it otherwise, because they disagree and if you sign, that’s just how it is. TBH they won’t need to spy on you. If you create the next Facebook or Instagram then they will come looking for money or first refusal in the purchase, they don’t care about side projects it’s about their employee making something of insane value potentially they just want to have a piece. Basically if your on the cusp something huge, consider just quitting your job 6-12 months before that time. You may well have to see them in court either way.


Thanks for this awareness
I have some newbie questions
Are this things clarified in formal offer letter that we receive?
We have to clarify them personally, phone call..?
What legal proof are we supposed to have in response to this questions companies answer?


They're usually in the formal, written job offer, or in separate non disclosure/non compete agreements (those two are sometimes combined), all of which you have to sign. Before you even get to that point, though, you should ask these sorts of questions so you don't waste time on the process only to be surprised by such things.

Ideally, you get the opposite of such restrictions in writing. Even communicating such questions (and receiving answers) via email rather than phone/F2F is better than nothing, but it doesn't matter if you sign something to the contrary.


I also like to ask for any obligations/penalties I may have in case I leave the company. I know that doesn't sound really good to my potential employer but there are all kinds of contracts, some of them requiring you to return to your role if requested by the company after you leave (even if you work for another company at that time), not allowing you to work for other companies for a predefined time frame, or even get in a situation where you owe money to your employer for some weird reason.


I've definitely walked away from companies whose non compete agreements were too restrictive (e.g adult eLearning companies restricting me from anything eLearning-related during and 6 months or more after my role with them, knowing I was already currently working on PreK-12 eLearning and intended to stay on as an advisor/spare-time maintainer if hired) or too broad/vague (e.g "Will I get sued if I keep doing what I'm already doing in my spare time or intend to do in the future, even if it has nothing to do with what they're building?").


Amazing as always. I will make sure to look out for those when I change jobs!