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I just received an offer I'm really excited about with a proposed start date 3 weeks from now, but everything is contingent on passing the background and reference check. I have no reason to be worried about this, except maybe a slight discrepancy in my current title: I'm technically an 'Associate' at my current company (which is a super old, European conglomerate with an outdated title structure) so I put 'Associate II' on my resume to more closely align with actual level of seniority, responsibilities, and pay which resembles that of a typical 'Senior Associate' in my market. I have data/pay stubs to back this up if necessary.

So a few questions:

Is that title discrepancy something that would raise red flags and get my offer rescinded?

Is it fair for me to not put in notice at my current job until all contingencies are 100% taken care of (i.e. background check is cleared)?

If so, how do I ask HR what the status of my background check is without raising any red flags?

Finally, the offer letter that I signed included reference checks, but I haven't been asked for any references. Is that something I should bring up as well?

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Welcome aboard! First, a quick suggestion - adding a location tag to questions is usually a good idea, especially when answers may vary depending upon local laws and business practices. On to the questions & answers:

Is that title discrepancy something that would raise red flags and get my offer rescinded?

Probably not, and depending upon your location it may not be something that an employer would be permitted to disclose. In my experience, employers won't even verify an exact salary amount - only a range ... but I live in a very litigious place.

Is it fair for me to not put in notice at my current job until all contingencies are 100% taken care of (i.e. background check is cleared)?

If so, how do I ask HR what the status of my background check is without raising any red flags?

Absolutely! Just make sure that you provide sufficient notice to your current employer, especially if you are contractually obligated to provide a certain amount of notice - and make sure that your new employer is aware of any notice requirements so that they can give you an appropriate start date.

There is also nothing wrong with asking about the progress of any of these kinds of checks, especially if you are concerned about delays which may require you to change your notice/departure dates with your current employer.

Finally, the offer letter that I signed included reference checks, but I haven't been asked for any references. Is that something I should bring up as well?

If they don't bring up references, I would wait until you are asked to provide them.

A couple of additional thoughts about references: Do you have your reference list ready to be submitted? It's always good to re-confirm telephone numbers, email addresses, etc. to make sure that your new employer has the right info. Have you let the folks on the list know that they may be getting a call or email from the new employer?

Best of luck with the new position!

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    Really appreciate your thorough answer. I've changed jobs once before and they kicked off the background check as soon as I was given the offer letter (the background check company reached out for a few forms, etc). But in this particular case no one has reached out to me regarding a background check, so I wanted to make sure it was appropriate to inquire about it as I want to give notice by end of week. Commented May 18, 2021 at 18:57

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