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I verbally promised to a big company company that I'd be able to join in a month (the date they had in mind), then I realized that it'd be hard to do so before I finish my grad school (nearly impossible with a full-time job, and delaying is not an option!). Fortunately, the offer letter doesn't specify any start date, so I signed it!

Now, I'm worried what to say when they ask for start date (probably via a separate document yet to be signed).

The team seemed laid back, looking to fill more than a single position, and it's a big company (>10K employees), so would it be risky to shift it by 2 months right away? Or would it make more sense to shift it 4-6 weeks first, then an additional 2-4 weeks later? Which strategy would minimize the risk of the company rescinding the offer?

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    Call them up right away! Don't wait for the separate contract. The longer you wait, the worse it's going to get. Tell them your problem. I assume this has to do with your thesis or an unfinished course. Be ready to say two months when they ask how much time you need. Also, if you made a good connection with the hiring manager, I'd suggest calling that person instead of the HR person. Otherwise, call the HR person. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 21 '18 at 21:24
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    Possible duplicate of HR wants to push my start date by a month – Jude Niroshan Jan 22 '18 at 3:33
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    @JudeNiroshan How is that relevant to this question? – Lilienthal Jan 22 '18 at 7:54
  • I doubt 2 months play a role in a company of this size, with the exception of being hired for specific external projects (consulting context). – pmf Jan 23 '18 at 11:27
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Just ask them whether it's possible to push back the start date.

Make sure to:

  • Emphasise how excited you are about the opportunity.
  • Explain why you'd like to push back the start date.
  • Explain why you didn't bring this up earlier (keep it short, especially if you don't have a good reason).

If they say it's fine, your problem is solved.

If they say it's not possible, you'd probably still have the offer and you can tell them that you'd be able to start at the initially agreed-upon date.

This might lead to them questioning how reliable you'd be and whether you plan ahead, but that can't really be avoided.


If you intend to decline the offer if the start date can't be pushed back, you might want to instead state that you'd be unable to start at the agreed-upon date, before asking them whether it can be pushed back.

This would make it clear what them declining to push it back would mean.


Do not try to push back your start date multiple times.


Don't assume there'll be another document for the start date.

Reach out to them now via phone or email.

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You either can start in a month or you cannot.
If you can’t as you claim just say your situation and commit to a date that suits you and is not more than you really need.
If they have a problem with this they’ll tell you and you would need to make your choice.
If you ask for 4 weeks now and extra 4 later it’s worse for you (too much pressure etc) and for the company since they can’t depend on you anymore if you postpone again.
If they don’t accept now what makes you think they would accept a 4 weeks new extension after a month?

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