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I recently received written job offer (from a big corporation, if it matters) that I decided to accept. I am meant to start at the beginning of April, so I need to hand notice letter to my employer by Friday. I haven't received a job contract from my new employer yet though. Does it matter?

I see there is quite strong consensus that you need contract, before you take any steps, but in my case the job contract will contain one month probationary period. I assume if there is any reason for them to not offer me contract after I hand out my notice, they could use the same reason to terminate my contract at the day 0 of my probationary period.

-- EDIT --

Thanks for all the answers so far!

I generally agree with points raised by @gnat and @Player One - it's not a wise choice to commit to a contract with unclear/undefined terms.

From my experience contracts in big corporations are one pagers: with salary, start date, end date, probationary period, notice period stated. Everything else is really not negotiable and described in the same document for the whole company (like "company policy manual" or "collective labor agreement"). This document was presented to me, so I feel like all the conditions are clear.

At this stage I think I'll need to select between If your new employer is serious about recruiting you, they’ll understand that you need a signed contract before resigning. If they don’t, ask yourself if you’re ready to work for them and My bottom line is if the company is well reputed and you have a good feeling about it, go for it now if it makes your situation easier

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Yes, it matters.

If you haven't read the contract then you shouldn't commit to signing it - what if the contract contains a clause you consider unreasonable, or if the compensation listed in it is different from what you discussed with the recruiter/hiring manager?

If you have already quit your previous job when you learn this then your options will be a lot more limited than if you'd waited.

Don't resign until after you've read and signed your new contract.

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Presumably the new company knows about your notice period?

If so, simply explain that it starts when you receive, and agree, a contract from them - which they will already know, if they are reputable.

Any push to start early is coming form your new boss who wants you on-board ASAP. If he has a problem, it is with his company's HR department, not with you.

As others have said, DO NOT resign until you have read, agreed and signed your new contract. And don't be a afraid to take a day or two to understand the contract/discuss it with a lawyer if you feel that it is needed (probably not with a large company, but you never know).


Tl;dr:

  1. receive contract
  2. review contract
    2a. discuss contract with lawyer/new employer, if necessary
  3. sign contract and deliver to new company
  4. resign, starting one month notice period
  5. one month later, start at new job

Do not deviate from the above. Ever.

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While other answers are right in their own way, I think you should consider some other things

  1. How "big" is the company. If it is really in the likes of FANG, you can be more assured that a written offer letter has lot of credibility and you may not have to wait for the contract.

  2. Do you really plan to negotiate something which is on the contract or change your mind if you do not agree with the clause? Again, depending on how big the company is, these terms may be non-negotiable and mostly well thought of. There may not be a lot you can do about it anyway.

  3. Every job change comes with a risk. Whatever risk you see resigning before getting the contract, may reappear after you get the contract as well.

My bottom line is if the company is well reputed and you have a good feeling about it, go for it now if it makes your situation easier. Written job offer DOES have a very high value in terms of 'safety'.

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I will answer with an European perspective. First of all, so you can get an idea, HR in my current company explicitly told me during recruitment to do not quit until I had a contract from them in my hands.

Motives are mainly:

  1. Delays. Contracts in some places (e.g. Germany) may need to go through several layers of approvals after the decision to hire you has been taken. This includes maybe the workers union and the finance department and this delays the process quite a lot. You probably do not want to be a couple of months without work.
  2. Cancellation of the offer. It could happen (rarely) that they do not approve your hiring due to a temporal freeze or other reasons.

If time is getting close so you will have to start a month later due to your notice period rules, so be it. I would send an email to the HR contact from your prospective employer reminding them about this fact since it may speed up the process.

Be patient and wait for your contract before resigning from your current employer.

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I agree with the consensus you mention, because that’s the most prudent solution for you.

However :

  • If your new employer is serious about recruiting you, they’ll understand that you need a signed contract before resigning. If they don’t, ask yourself if you’re ready to work for them. Also, have you tried explaining your situation, and ask for a later start date ?
  • If you are on good terms with your current employer, you may be able to negociate a shorter notice period.
  • Alernatively, there is the "nuclear option" to quit before the end of your notice period in order to work for your new employer. You’ll most likely burn the bridges with your current employer and, depending on the Netherlands law, face legal repercussions, but that’s still an option.
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    As addition the last bullet point allows the current employer to sue for damages, unlikely and wont' be much. But keep in mind that IF the new employer fires OP he will likely not get benefits, as he broke contract. – Mathijs Feb 24 at 11:07
  • "have you tried explaining your situation, and ask for a later start date" - I'm still in discussion, but sometimes big companies have a policy to sign a contract at the first day of work, so not a lot can be done – mysterious_user Feb 24 at 11:18
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You will always have the possibility of them terminating at day 0. you will have to cancel your current contract in time as well. At least one month before, in some positions it's longer.

I would stress the party that you need the contract before you can quit your current position, it's only reasonable.

Don't risk it unless you are in a fancy position in IT where I can find work in a day.

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