I have a verbal offer, but so far it has taken the company a week to generate the offer letter and I keep being told that "it is coming. HR is just slow." My problem was that I agreed to start Monday the week after next on the assumption that the offer letter and contract would be signed imminently after a verbal acceptance (I have never waited more than an hour before).

I had that conversation last Friday. I still don't have so much as a welcome email, yet alone an offer package. I had assumed I would resign Monday.

Am I wrong to say that I am moving my start date to some point after I sign some documents? I don't want to quit a job before they actually formally agree that they are hiring me.

I have a verbal and the guy seemed nice, but that doesn't seem like enough.

On the one hand I didn't make this condition initially clear, but I also assumed (and have always gotten) very prompt offer letters.

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    What country / state? Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 1:33
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    This is impossible to answer without a location tag. In my country, every sentence you wrote is a direct contradiction of what we normally do. But telling you that is not helpful, is it? So please, add a location/country tag and maybe mention the industry too.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 6:40
  • @GregoryCurrie Ontario, Canada Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 6:49
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    Just in case you are not aware, verbal contracts are binding in Canada, though it may be worthwhile to wait for a written contract to be delivered. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 8:15
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    @GregoryCurrie Enforcing any kind of employment contract dispute can take years if not a decade in the Ontario courts. If you don't have a written contract, and there is a dispute, it could take a long time and have uncertain outcome. You might win the court case, but that won't help you pay your bills for the next few years. And if the business goes under while your case goes through the system, your claim will be in line behind every secured creditor, so you'll get pennies on the dollar. There is a large difference between "law is on your side" and "you can rely on the law to defend you"
    – Yakk
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:09

5 Answers 5


Just get in touch with them and say that the start date will need to be moved backwards to give you enough time to review and make your arrangements.

No need to make a big deal of it.

People are going to claim that a week is way too long. Some may even claim it's a "red flag". But the reality is that different companies have different challenges. This company may have a HR team that is very slow to get things sorted.

I have worked for a company where this was the case, and it's absolutely just as frustrating as a hiring manager, because you don't want the new employee to think they are undervalued, and you want them in the company as soon as possible.

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    IDK if I'd call it a red flag, but definitely a yellow flag. And if you start a new position without an offer letter, you don't have anything to fall back on if they try to change the conditions. Definitely move the start date until after signing the offer and don't even hint to the current employer that you are leaving, since that might be "cause for termination" for some companies. It unfortunately is here in the US. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 15:33
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    It may not be a red flag, but I've dropped companies from consideration often enough after being too sluggish to respond in time (which always was multiple weeks for something that didn't have to take two days). Never be afraid to walk away from a company if you feel a bad hiring process is just the tip of the iceberg.
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 9:03
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    @Mast Well, I'd say be afraid if you really need the job. In my experience the HR process is quite divorced from the regular day-to-day process, so I'm not sure how much a sluggish HR process shows. Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 14:54
  • In my experience a week for the full offer (for a permanent position) would be pretty quick!
    – deep64blue
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 10:02
  • A week is nothing. The time between my niece being orally told she got her government job and getting the formal offer was several months. But she loves the job. Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 21:10

Never quit a job for another job without a concrete offer for the new job in hand.

Too many things can go wrong between the promise and your actual offer. Things that might go wrong:

  • Drug test failure
  • Background check problem
  • I-9 issues (USA work eligibility as citizen or authorized non-citizen)
  • Company restructuring
  • Company events (lost a major customer, plant blew up, etc.)
  • New boss wants to hire their nephew
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    Except for the times when quitting before having a new job in hand is actually the better thing to do.
    – Peter M
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:16
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    To be fair, in lots of jurisdictions either side can cancel the work contract during the first month without any warning or repercussions. The company could also go bankrupt the very same day you join. So there is no 100% safety.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 17:43
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    @Michael True. The company I worked in once had a major restructure and a lot of layoff due to covid. Some of the newhires are laid off on day 2 of work.
    – justhalf
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 7:56
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    @Michael in some jurisdictions (like Germany) you are just screwed if you terminate a position without a signed contract as you are then opt-out of unemployment benefits which could pay your bills in case the new company turns you down immediately. TL;DR Never ever terminate a position in Germany without a new contract.
    – bash0r
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 9:45
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    @justhalf, I met a guy who started at a company (in the UK), and between signing the contract and starting the job the whole department hiring him had been laid off, including the hiring manager. He arrived at the company and nobody still working there knew about him. Walked around until he found a manager who needed work to be done, and stayed at the company for six years :-)
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 10:18

You'd never hand in your notice at your old company without having an enforcable contract in your hand with the new company.

This means in the USA with 14 days notice, you can start at the earliest 14 days after the contract is in your hand. In Europe, your notice period can be a lot longer. The exception is of course if you are unemployed and can start at any second. You can actually reasonably safely start work before you have your contract (you would have an implied contract).

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    As far as I'm aware, 14 days is only a convention that is the minimum "polite" period to leave without burning bridges. You can leave any time in at will employment, with the understanding that you may not be welcome back if you don't do it politely. In OP's case it seems that 14 days would be a good idea. Not sure what the convention is in Canada though. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:57
  • most job offers in the US are not "enforceable."
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 3:14

It seems the usual dirty tactic. They will send you the contract at the very last moment in order to force you to take a decision without having enough time to read proprerly the new contract or seek some advice. Take it as a red flag, usually in this situations the contract will respect the initial offer, but hidden in the contract there might be some unfair clauses. E.G. If you work in IT you might find excessive clauses for non competition or intellectual property.

If you you can delay the agreed date, for the beginning of the new job, do it immediately. But in this case the other side might also find an excuse to delay the preparation of the contract. If you have a couple of trusted friends who can help you read the contract put them on alert, you could divide the contract in blocks an each of you read thoroughly a single block.

One thing you could do is lie about the notice period, you can say that you remembered that there is a special clause in your contract that requires a longer notice period. E.G. The notice can start only at the beginning of the month, but can end only on a Friday. In this way they will be forced to give you the contract few days before your deadline for the resignation.


Ask for a signing bonus. If they really want you, they can put some serious money in your hands right now. They can structure it as a forgivable loan. If you show up and work for them for a certain number of months they forgive the loan. If they don't hire you or they fire you, they also forgive the loan.

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    Very aggressive move, considering the particulars have already been agreed upon. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 3:13
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    this would get you kicked to the curb at my company.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 6:02
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    If the company is being honorable but slow, this is just going to insult them. If the company is evil and trying something, this just gives them more ways to screw you over. Either way, I wouldn't advise it.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 7:06
  • @TigerGuy It would be better for OP to be "kicked to the curb" before OP gives notices to current employer because OP asked for a signing bonus than OP to be "kicked to the curb" after OP give notice because the budget shifted.
    – emory
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 11:54
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    I don't think this is a bad option to have for negotiation in the case the new company insists on starting without giving a contract or such. Maybe it would be better expressed as such specifically.
    – Mike M
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:57

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