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After finishing my interview process, the company which is looking to hire me says that they would give me the offer letter only after I join them. They keep insisting that I give them my joining date with them.

I see lots of red flags due to such request. What do I do?

Also, I talked with HR again and she is still insisting that I give them my last working day in current organization and the date on which I can join them. I will get my offer letter and appointment letter on the day I join them.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jan 24 at 15:48
  • How can you “join” without an offer letter? Do they expect you to just show up and start working without a contract? – AffableAmbler Jan 24 at 20:17
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    @smci I have edited the title to match my question. Top answer is not out of line. I talked with that HR again and she is still insisting that I give them my last working day in current organisation and the date on which I can join them. I will get my offer letter and appointment letter on the day I join them. – SoundStage Jan 25 at 16:49
  • Tell them you will join them after, and not before, you get an offer letter. – Marquis of Lorne Jan 26 at 1:03
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    I still feel there's a huge miscommunication between you and them. Your most recent comment clearly indicates that they want you to tell them when you can start, so they can write up a valid contract. Your question tells a completely different story. – pipe Jan 26 at 17:33

10 Answers 10

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Indeed this is a big red flag. By requiring you to join them and quit your current job first, your position to negotiate any terms in that offer letter is significantly compromised.

I would recommend refusing to join them before having a signed contract in hand.

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    @SoundStage a signed contract means an offer letter for employment. It says, "We'd like you to come on board and do this job Monday-Friday, starting no this (future) date. You'll make this much money a year, have this many vacation days and sick days a year, and receive these benefits." Then, if someone doesn't live up to that agreement (You take more vacation than was allotted, they don't pay your salary in a timely manner, etc.) you can take them to court and sue for damages, as they've failed to live up to their end. – NegativeFriction Jan 23 at 13:17
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    @SoundStage as Alice has pointed out-- if you have already quit your job, you need income. Thus, the new company can say, "We'll agree to compensation once you're working for us-- but if you don't like it, what can you do? You don't have another source of income." They could say that OP works 7 days a week for minimum wage, and there would be no recourse for the OP except to find another job. – NegativeFriction Jan 23 at 13:18
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    @NegativeFriction Ty for explaining. – SoundStage Jan 23 at 13:24
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    This is the right answer. OP should state it in these terms, and not be afraid of insulting them. They've already insulted OP by insisting on this. – rath Jan 23 at 14:35
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    I would go a step further & refuse to join them at all, even if they change their mind on requiring OP to leave their current job first. If they are this predatory in the hiring process, they're more than likely going to keep it up once OP is hired there – Drudge Jan 25 at 0:00
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They keep insisting that I give them my joining date with them.

The way I see it from your statement: They are not asking you explicitly to resign from your current organization, they are asking you to provide them with a tentative date of joining them, that they can use in the offer letter. It's not very uncommon thing.

Tell them you joining date will be (the date you receive the offer letter + time taken to read, understand, agree and submit the signed contract back to them + your notice period in current organization + any additional time - weekends etc).

If they are saying they cannot issue the offer letter unless you give them a joining date (i.e, you submit your resignation and get a last working day from your organization), tell them the above and ask them to calculate the joining date from that information and use that date in the offer letter and share with you. They should understand the point.

However, if they are actually insisting that you resign from the current organization, don't do that.

Do not resign from your current organization unless you have a signed and confirmed offer in your hands.

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  • I talked with that company's HR multiple times. She said not to give her a tentative date, but to give her my last working date with my current employer and the date on which I can join them. – SoundStage Jan 25 at 16:41
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    @soundstage that means they want you to resign first. Dont do that. Move on, you'll have better offers for sure. – Sourav Ghosh Jan 25 at 16:54
  • This answer is not a correct one. You do not resign after a written offer, you resign after a written contract; unless there is no contract. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 25 at 20:17
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    @RuiFRibeiro Where do you live and work? In a 20 year career as a programmer in the states, there are no contracts for full time work. You get an offer letter, negotiate a start date, and show up. If they try to not pay in full, the offer letter is a contract you can enforce in court for whatever they shorted you. – Gabe Sechan Jan 25 at 22:54
  • @GabeSechan Portugal, a contract is pretty much mandatory nowadays, and 90% of the market is hiring done by a 2nd firm. Often you want to sign first, for if they include stupid clauses like timed non-competes, you tell them to get lost. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 26 at 17:52
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I'll go for the contrary answer: this may actually be a (stupid) miscommunication and not actually be a red flag.

Don't get me wrong: if they're asking you to quit your current job and only then get an offer - yeah, that's a terrible idea.

But from your question, they're insisting on simply knowing your joining date - or when you'd be able to start. Giving this answer does not require you to quit your current job, or anything of the sort. In your shoes, I'd simply reply something like:

"Well, if you can get the offer letter to me by the end of the week and I find it acceptable, I think I'd be able to start March 1st - that give me time afterwards to give notice and get everything in order from my side."

Aka, you're not quitting until you accept an offer; you're not pressured into accepting a lowball offer or a different role than you expect. And if all of this is a simple communications issue, it'll result with them sending an acceptable job offer/contract. (If it isn't miscommunication, and they're being underhanded - well, that'll be clear pretty quickly and you won't be an awkward position of having to accept a substandard offering from them.)

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    I've looked at a few jobs where the start date was critical to getting a job offer. If you couldn't start before a certain date, they said they couldn't offer the job. In one case, if they didn't get someone hired before that date, the project would just be cancelled or delayed another year. However, this is pretty rare, and if they are actually requiring you to quit your job and start the new position with them before they give you an offer letter, then you need to let that go and avoid working for them. It's not even a red flag at that point, but a deal breaker. – computercarguy Jan 23 at 18:55
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    I agree this could be a misunderstanding, but @computercarguy describes the only reason I can think of to want to know the start date before providing an offer letter. Even in that case, though, the "must join by" date could be clearly stated in the offer letter. The company has no reason to need to know your start date before making an offer, since if it's really a dealbreak for them, they can stipulate that in the offer itself. – Nuclear Wang Jan 23 at 19:17
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    @NuclearWang: It can literally be just so the HR department can write a specific start date in the offer letter, rather than leave it blank and subject to more to-and-fro of filling in details. With the start date agreed, and all other details such as salary, hours, holiday already part of the offer, the OP would just need to sign and return unless there is some issue in the contract. Yes there might be other reasons to want to force a specific date, but it is really common to negotiate start date (with implied no legal commitment, just polite intent) before sending out offers – Neil Slater Jan 24 at 14:52
  • @computercarguy If they can only give you the job if you are able to start by say February 1st, they should tell you so and then give you an offer letter with start date February 1st. With offer in hand OP can evaluate whether he can and wants to take the offer. A critical start date doesn't change anything about having an offer before committing to the job. – quarague Jan 24 at 16:02
  • @NeilSlater, yes, you are correct. That works 99.99% of the time, or so. But to make sure the candidate is worth the time to write an offer letter to the remaining 0.01% is to ask them if they can actually commit to the hiring timeline before writing the letter. At that point the can definitely include a hard start date, and that's what happened in my case, IIRC. – computercarguy Jan 24 at 17:15
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First of all this seems to be illegal if you are anywhere in Europe. You can't get the contract after you join a company. You should get this clarified since one possible interpretation is that they want you to join them, that is to have some kind of confirmation that you will join them, before actually sending you a contract.

I had once a company refusing to send me a draft of the contract before signing the actual contract. According to them they could only send final contracts and that I should be accepting their offer (only verbal plus some informal mails) before they were actually sending me the contract.

There are different problems also with this interpretation:

  1. This is probably not enforceable. If I say that I will join them by email, they send me the contract and I back off because I don't like it there's nothing they can do.
  2. It's a huge red flag. Properly managed companies will have no problems to send you a draft of the contract you will need to sign by email so you can check all conditions and come back to them with questions or modifications.

In my particular case this was on top of other red flags and I can say it was a decisive factor on me turning down their offer.

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    It's not illegal in the UK where there is no require to have a written contract at all, only 'written particulars' (pay, name of the employer, hours, etc), which must be provided within two months of starting. – Alex Hayward Jan 23 at 19:47
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    Not really. There are several places in Europe where a written contract is not always required. It's not so much that you get a contract after you join, you are legally presumed to have had an (unwritten) contract from the day you started. Also, it's pretty common to get a contract on the day you take up employment and be expected to return it signed later. I am talking about big organisations that ran everything past lawyers, are not trying to do anything questionable and provided a detailed offer beforehand. But the written contract is not signed by the employee before they join. – Relaxed Jan 23 at 21:12
  • The only thing that's mandatory under EU law (and therefore across many European countries) is pay slips with specific mentions akin to those listed by @AlexHayward – Relaxed Jan 23 at 21:14
  • Also, when a written contract is missing in a situation where there should be one, the work contract is actually very much enforceable, not against the employee but against the employer. In practice, there is not necessarily a whole lot an employer can do against an employee who never showed up so if the company is shady, making sure the contract is not enforceable is exactly what they want. Once you actually started, it's more difficult for you to walk out. – Relaxed Jan 23 at 21:18
  • That's why labour law usually works the other way around: a contract, without any illegal clauses or lack of guarantees is presumed to exist and it is very much enforceable. You just need to prove you were working and getting paid to establish that this contract existed. – Relaxed Jan 23 at 21:20
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  1. To be on the safe side, clarify with the company what does "join" mean.
  2. Commit to absolutely nothing before you have a written offer from them. Based in the said offer, make your decisions.

There is a similar question here.

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Unless you have absolutely no other options, realize that the red flags are seen for a reason, and tell them you can't accept under these conditions.

Then, if they decide to give you an offer letter before joining, think long and hard about whether you still want to work for these people.

They are effectively asking you to stop looking for a good position before having one, and you'll be at their mercy if they decide that the offer letter will contain wildly different things from what they've promised you up until now. And you won't have a very good position for telling them no if you've already quit your current job and stopped interviewing at other places, so you'll be stuck with accepting it.

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They need a joining date / start date, so you can say something like this.

I need to give my current employer two weeks' notice. It's important to me to wrap up my assignments in a professional way. So, if you send me a written offer letter today, Thursday 23-Jan, I can give them notice tomorrow, 24-Jan. Then I will be able to start with you on Monday 10-Feb. (fill in actual dates)

The point here is to emphasize your personal professionalism in finishing up with your current employer.

If you say that and they still won't give you a written offer letter, run, don't walk, away.

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    No, don't ask for an offer letter. Ask for the contract. You need all the details (not just some of the details) before you give notice to your current employer. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 23 at 14:21
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You might reconsider joining this organization under any circumstances. They do not care for your well being: asking to jump ship without properly providing a landing spot is not something that should be happening.

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If they are insisting.. I would say don't try to work around them or change their mind, find a different job. They are trying to screw you and even if you find a way around it this time, there will definitely be a next time and next time you will have already quit your other job.

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Under the best of circumstances a job that you think will totally work can go wrong in many ways. So, when you are seeing concerns even before you join suggest you ask yourself

  • Is the possibility of getting this job worth the risk of losing my current job?
  • From the other people I talked to during the interview process, is this potential issue primarily/only on the hiring side or did I see any other similar potential concerns from others?
  • Have you talked to them about your concerns and ask them to either clarify what they are asking or explain why they are doing it in this particular way? Could be just a miss understanding of what you think they are asking vs what they are actually asking.

Lastly, consider that your power to negotiate is highest before you join and more often than not, highly, decreases as time goes on during your employment. So if they don't perceive you with enough value to them to try to work things out during the hiring process, then you may be taking a lot of risk by joining them

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