I have been with a large, well known company for a while in various finance and operations roles. I am ready to take on the CFO role at a smaller, growing company. I recently received an offer. The company looks like a good choice for me to start my CFO career path.
I’m in middle of negotiating my agreement and package. When I received the offer, things were still in the pre-COVID-19 state. With a pandemic being declared and the business world being uncertain, I have one major concern and I would like your advice.
There is a severance package attached to the opportunity that is fair (after we’ve negotiated a few things). The issue is that it kicks in on start date. I’m going to resign from my well know blue chip employer and going to a much smaller growing company. With the new world of uncertainty of COVID-19 and a business world that is changing from day to day, what happens if I resign today and when I start in a few weeks the situation at my new employer-in-waiting changes so drastically that they tell me they don’t need me anymore?
Living on the Edge, Massachusetts
Dear On the Edge,
Your question shows that you have a sharp mind.
Usually, your concern is not an issue. You’ve likely done your due diligence, like the prospects of your potential new employer and feel that there is a good fit for you to go in and make a difference while you tackle new responsibilities and challenges. Waiting a few weeks is usually not an issue.
Businesses are now facing challenges they have never had to face before. And, when taking a look at the speed and depth of this natural disaster and the impact it has on business, who can really say that companies with limited cash and resources will pull through this crisis?
I have never seen anyone ask a potential employer to cover the risk between resignation date and start date. I have never seen the need to either. Until today.
I recommend that you go to your potential new employer and express your concern to them. If they have been reasonable with you throughout your negotiation process, I expect that they will be reasonable as well.
I do not recommend that you go to them with a proposed solution. Ask them to solve the problem. If the method that they come back with is fair and deals with your concern, accept it.
I also recommend that you get into your new company as soon as possible. I actually had one new CFO start at a client on Monday March 16, 2020. Their first day in the office was bedlam, but the leadership and ownership were grateful to have a steady hand on deck to help them deal with the stormy seas.
Close the deal and get on board. Your new employer needs you even more than they did a month ago.
Good luck and keep me informed,
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