At the start of December I secured a new job which I have been very delayed in starting. First of all I was waiting for references from previous employers, who were not responsive in providing these to my new employer. It took many phone calls for my new employer to tell me that I need to chase up these references myself and then I can start the job.
Again, after many calls and visits in person to my old workplace, I managed to gain a paper copy reference from my previous manager. I had to physically take this to my new workplace myself and was told I’d be phoned back the next day. I wasn’t phoned back the next day and left it a few days to see if they would call but a week passed and I had still heard nothing. So I phoned myself and was told that I cannot start Due to a lack of customers and the employer is unsure of an exact start date. To this day, I have been waiting three months to start this job with no income. I have been working there voluntarily but I am beginning to question if I’m needed at this place and the next steps I should take.

  • 4
    Did you sign an employment contract with the new company? If not, you don't have a job yet and you should continue to pursue other opportunities. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 17:51
  • 3
    What country are you in? As far as I know, unless you have a written offer, you really can't say you have the job for sure. Also, define what you mean by you work there "voluntarily?" Do you mean you just show up?
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 17:58
  • 2
    Ok, something doesn't add up here. You don't have any official document confirming your employment here, you are chasing references on your own time, you are even doing a police check out of your own pocket, and you are working voluntarily as well for free. This has been apparently going on for three months. Has it occurred to you you might be getting scammed here?
    – Masked Man
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 17:59
  • 2
    A contract is only as good as the paper it's written on.
    – Chris E
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 18:22
  • 2
    Why have you waited nearly 90 days? I would have looked for a job, the day they indicated, they didn't have money to hire me. You should run away from this company, quickly, and never look back. "The company is very reputable in the area" - They are also broke.
    – Donald
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:39

2 Answers 2


In terms of next steps:

  1. Stop going in voluntarily. They have 0 motivation to give you a contract and "start date" when you're already working for free. Call your contact at the company and inform them of this. Use whatever reasoning sounds good to you.

  2. Continue your job search. Inform prospective employers that you are in process with another company but are awaiting a written offer. (Some companies will be motivated to accelerate the hiring process if they know you're close to getting another offer.)

  3. If and when they do come to you with a written offer (complete with start date), think carefully about whether you want to work for a company that extends you an offer without having the resources (money, customers, etc.) to provide you with a definite start date, makes you track down your own references, and asks you to work voluntarily. This behavior is not normal.

  • Should I ask if the company can give me a definite start date before telling them I am going to look for a position elsewhere. The company is a new business and is still in early stages, but surely that doesn’t give an excuse for doing this? Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 18:30
  • 3
    @Alittlemoose You don't have to tell them you're going to look for a position elsewhere. Just say something like, "I'm excited to join the company and look forward to receiving a written offer." Just leave it that. If you want, make up a story about needing to do temporary work somewhere else to cover expenses while you await your start date. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 18:33
  • I wouldn't threaten them since obviously they don't care if you're working there or not right now. So instead I would say what @AffableAmbler and simply say something along the lines of that you would like to work there but with a offer letter and starting date.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 18:55
  • 3
    @Alittlemoose - Do you really want to work for a company who has such little business they are unable to hire the developers they apparently required just 90 days ago? You should think long and hard about staying with this company. You can leave today if you want, you have no contract, anything they promise you should be in writing even then they are broke and are unable to hire you today.
    – Donald
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:43

You don't have an offer of employment and no employer is going to ask their employees to pay out of pocket for things like a background check. If a reference can't be obtained, it's my experience that a company either moves past it, meaning they inform you that they tried contacting the reference but where unable to and no information can be obtained at this point which can cause them to ask for some documents (something like a pay stub, or a tax return or something) or they will disqualify that candidate right then and there.

I seriously doubt that any country out there has a different system as think of it from the employers point of view: You really want this person to work for you and if you suddenly start asking them to pay they'll drop this opportunity and go elsewhere.Anything otherwise and this is not the case.

Don't fool yourself, if there's no employment offer your not an employee.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .