I have recently accepted a job offer from an employer (a relatively large one with big HR dept). Basically everything went fine: salary/benefits negotiated, start-date determined, etc. I got the letter, signed it, sent it back, and gave notice to my previous employer.
However, according to the paperwork, the job offer is contingent on passing a pre-employment background check. I have always thought it was a formality but this time the background check is really happening and appears to be fairly extensive and is taking more than two weeks. For example, I had to take a drug test and I know they are verifying my past employment with a third party, checking my linkedIn profile, etc, and who knows what else. The HR department doesn't even know when the background check will be complete.
There is no reason to believe that I won't pass the background screen and I have nothing to hide, but it makes me kind of nervous. What if something goes wrong for whatever reason and the offer is reneged? That would put me in a very vulnerable situation.
In the future, should I refrain from giving notice to my previous employer until after the completion of the background check? The problem with that is that it could push out the start date because I expect to give a reasonable amount of notice to the previous employer. On the other hand, it sort-of provides an incentive for the background check to be done quickly.