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So I've been through an exhaustive ~1-year hiring/immigration process in order to acquire a work permit with a new company that wishes to hire me. All the immigration documents have been approved at this point but the process has been very difficult in terms of dealing with a 3rd party lawyer company, keeping it cool and calm despite many errors on the lawyer's and HR end. At some stages of the process, it even felt like I'm somewhat paying to get hired as they're only agreeing to reimburse some of my expenses and only after I have left my current employer, signed the contract, and started working for them. But despite that, I've never been rude or unprofessional with anyone from the company's or the lawyer's end.

Now we're close to having everything ready for me to sign the final contract (so far I've signed a 1 page offer letter that just outlined the basic things like, salary, paid days off, etc.). The HR person is pressuring me to give notice to my current employer but hasn't shown me the final contract yet. To the best of my abilities, I've explained in an email that I just need to know that nothing else is legally missing so that if I get laid off after my notice, I won't have to be unemployed for some extended period of time.

So this is an email I've sent to the HR:

Hi X,

Thanks for forwarding the expenses to Y.

Let me know once all you need on your end to finalize the contract is my start date. I'll then give my employer the 1-2 week notice.

Thanks

The reply I get is as follows, keep in mind I've been through an almost 1-year grueling hiring process that included dealing with border agencies, my current company's lawyer getting notified of my actions with another company, and all sorts of other stressful things:

The HR:

Do you need your contract to resign? I am waiting for your start date to finalize it.

I am afraid we are both waiting for each other :/

I personally found this to be very rude and offensive after all this stress, delays, and just trying to get things to work out, to get an email like that which sounds like she's annoyed about a slight delay of a day or two. From here I can only imagine what the rest of my interactions with the HR people and possibly the rest of the management will be.

Keep in mind, as it's probably obvious, that English is not my native language, so maybe I'm seeing too much into this.

Anyway, your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE 1: this email exchange is not the first time I've been asking HR to confirm that everything else is ready and that the last thing they need is the start date. I don't feel secure about resigning if they can't confidently tell me that everything is ready on their end.

UPDATE 2: after the above email exchange, my reply was this:

"I don't need the contract to resign. What I would really appreciate, and I mentioned that during yesterday's meeting, is a confirmation that at this point there's no other obstacle in the way of getting me hired. Meaning, if I give my 1-2 week notice today and my employer decides to lay me off on spot, when I return to you with a start date of X it's all ready to go and there's no issues. So this is the only confirmation that I need and once I get that I'll give my notice to Y and return to you with a start date."

The studio manager contacted me later that, apparently, the finance department is not fully ready and best-case scenario, I can start within a week.

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    If you're handed a contract that contains something different from what you'd previously discussed, would that be an obstacle to getting hired? – Player One Oct 23 at 19:56
  • @PlayerOne Definitely a good point here. But I think, the way the process has been so far, it should be clear that I'm only asking whether everything is tight from the legal standpoint and that there won't be any surprise documentation that will require to be processed (as it was very often the case so far). As I mention in Update 2, indeed there turned out to be more obstacles and not everything was ready. – mt_ Oct 23 at 19:58
  • @PlayerOne I guess for me the main issue here, that it sounds that the HR is kind of on the offense and saying "What's your problem? Do you need A CONTRACT to RESIGN?". Where as all I'm doing is trying to negotiate between all sides for a smooth transition. But again, not a native speaker, so maybe it just came off that way. – mt_ Oct 23 at 20:00
  • Is there anything keeping you from lying to HR of the new company? Just tell them you put in your notice so you can get them to get you a contract. Once you have the contract put in your notice. – NDEthos Oct 23 at 21:44
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    In what country is the company located? Where are you from? I can imagine that there is a reason for HR to need to know the exact day at which you can start. For example, in Germany that is not obvious; I had contracts with a notice period of four weeks in one job but with 3 months to the end of a quarter (what could mean a max of almost 6 months) in another. – spickermann Oct 24 at 8:13
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Everything here is an enormous red flag. From you having to pay for the legal fees out of your own pocket, to you having to coordinate your own working visa/immigration documents with the lawyer, to the lawyer making errors in the processing, to you only being reimbursed for the expenses "once you're hired", to HR being slow on creating a contract and sending it to you...literally everything in your story is a dealbreaking red flag as far as I'm concerned; any one of those things and I would have been out of there.

What you need to do now is to tell them, firmly, that you need a start date. If they ask you for a date, the date you should give them is on or after:

Today + resignation notice period + 2 weeks

For example, if today is October 23 (which it is), and you have a 2 week notice period, then your start date should be at least November 20 (or, if you prefer, November 23 which would be the Monday of the following week, which I believe might be American Thanksgiving so you may want to account for that if the job is in America). This gives them 2 weeks to putz around in getting your contract ready, and still gives you 2 weeks to serve your notice once you have the contract in hand. That should cause no problem for anyone.

If they fail to have the contract ready, with the start date as you specified, within 2 weeks so you can give your notice, then cut your losses and tell them to screw off, because the story you've told here is pretty unbelievable.

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    Thank you so much! Just to make it clear, they are paying the vast majority of fees and by no means am I saying that I'm paying for the lawyers. The costs they're delaying on reimbursing is things like document translation costs and situations where I had to deal with immigration in person and be asked to pay on the spot (such as, border immigration fees, etc.) But at the same time, you're echoing the feelings I have over the whole situation. The HR email was just unbelievable to me, especially, how detached it was, offering 0 help and not opening any discussion, but just flat out complaining. – mt_ Oct 23 at 20:59
  • Ah, that's fair then. The way it sounded was that you had to pay everything yourself. – Ertai87 Oct 23 at 21:46
  • Who pays for which fees will depend on the country. In Australia for example there are certain visa-related fees that the company is legally obligated to pay, and fees which the applicant must pay (but the company may offer to reimburse). – jcm Oct 24 at 1:31
  • FYI American Thanksgiving is always on Thursday, so it's definitely not on the 23rd. This year it happens to be on the 26th. The Friday after might also be considered a holiday for the company. – Kat Oct 26 at 7:02
  • @Kat Thanks, in Canada our Thanksgiving (and most other holidays) are always on Monday so it's a long weekend, that sucks for Americans XD – Ertai87 Oct 26 at 16:39
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I wouldn't necessarily call it rude, but it's a bit inconsiderate.

I'd go back to them and politely and firmly explain that yes, you absolutely do need to read the contract before you sign it, and you need to sign it before you resign.

A compromise to get them moving might be to work out how long you think you'll need between signing the contract and starting work (taking your notice period and relocation time into account), and suggesting that they word it as "5 weeks from the signing of this agreement" or whatever seems like a reasonable length of time to you.

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I'm not picking up on any rudeness or overbearing annoyance in that HR email, just a to-the-point attempt to iron out an apparent miscommunication that needs to be sorted out in a timely manner - she's waiting on your start date to send you the contract, but you're waiting on the contract to finalize the start date. It's completely understandable that you'd want a finalized contract before quitting your current job, so it's perhaps a bit unusual that the HR rep wouldn't expect that, but this doesn't strike me as a major red flag.

It can be tricky to determine sentiment from an email, but you have a small clue to its lightheartedness in the emoticon at the very end (:/). In this context, it does represent some aspect of frustration, but the fact that it's expressed using an emoticon should lighten the mood of the email.

It seems like the HR rep doesn't understand exactly what you need, and I can agree with her that it's not entirely clear from the initial emails. You asked her to let you know when all she needs is the start date. She told you all she needs is the start date, which is exactly what you asked for. But what you actually wanted to know is if it's safe for you to resign or if there will be any other impediments to the contract, so you could perhaps ask the HR rep a bit more explicitly about what you need. The second update email you posted makes it much more clear.

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