I recently accepted a job from an international tech company to work in their office in California. The recruiter (also the manager at the office)first gave me a draft offer letter and asked if I have any questions or needed anything clarified. So I asked all the questions I had in mind and then I told him I'm good with the terms.

So next, the CEO of the company back at their headquarter in Asia signed and sent my official offer letter to their California office and then the letter is forwarded to me to sign. After I signed the offer letter, I ask the recruiter when will I sign a contract? The answer I got is: you will sign on your first day.

Since this is my first job after college, I'm just wondering is this normal? Because on the official offer letter, the things listed are like my starting date, my annual salary, how I will be paid, 401k plan (3%), dental, vision and health insurance. But they didn't go into any details about these terms. So I'm just a little bit worried what if they change things at thelast minute?

Do you think that it might be because they are afraid I might change my mind after signing my contract? Because my friend who graduated last year also got an offer from this company but she changed her mind at the very last minute.(yup she did :D) The company was extremely mad. Perhaps they think I would do the same? But during the interviews I've reassured them several times and clearly showed my passion and determination about the position and the company. It really is the job that I want.

  • 1
    This is typical in the US. You have an offer with a high level outline already (in your words, "Because on the official offer letter, the things listed are like my starting date, my annual salary, how I will be paid, 401k plan (3%), dental, vision and health insurance").
    – dwizum
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 20:13
  • This is quite common in Europe as well. Make sure you read all the fine-prints once you receive the contract - in case you aren't 100% sure how certain clauses will/can affect you don't be afraid to ask someone close to you and knowledgable for advise. I normally don't sign anything at the time when it is presented to me - It's completely normal to tell them that they'll receive the contract the next day - this way you have time to read, think & understand.. - Or even renegotiate ;)
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


At all 4 permanent jobs I have had over the past 17 years, I have always signed my contract on the first day of work. It usually was accompanied by a talk with either HR or the manager explaining basic things as what the company household rules were. Your guess is as good as mine what the reason behind not signing it earlier is, but I would say keeping the hassle if people do change their mind before the actual starting date to a minimum might be a big part of it. Of course, if you do show up on your first day and the contract says something different than what was agreed before, do not sign it and do not start work untill it is fixed.


I would not worry. Offer letters generally do not go into detail about the benefits, there are company policies that document those usually. In the extremely unlikely case they switch those, your offer letter should be enough for a legal case.

  • Yeah in case they say refuse to pay bonus or benefits down the line and it is bad enough to be worth suing
    – Layman
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 22:00

I would ask the contract by email before doing any move.

It is a reasonable request, it take 10 minutes for them to put your contract on the scanner then push "email to" or 5 minutes to send the word document by email.

Personally, there is at least 3 elements that are important to validate:

  1. non-compete-clauses

    I saw some heavy non-compete-clauses in the past, even if they are invalid, the company lawyer can do damage before a judge take a decision. I saw one of my ex co-worker getting screw over it by the company lawyer.

  2. availability

    There can be some clauses related to the windows that you need to be available, if you can be schedule the week-end or be called after office hour. If there were any bonus, like on call, mentioned during the interview, I would like to have then written. Also, remote work perk is good to have it written in the contract because some boss arbitrary denied it.

  3. intellectual property

    I saw some contracts that everything you create or work on it, even outside work without the company equipment is their property.

I did not face a lot of resistance from past employers to strike clauses that I did not feel right and initialize it by both parties, even adding exclusion for my side projects or to allow to work for previous employers during the week-end.

So feel free to ask to avoid you and your new employer waste time. Once you will be at their office the first day, the pressure to sign the contract will increase and I feel you will have less power to negotiate about clause that may annoy you.

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