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About 8 weeks ago, I interviewed for a position. The interview went well, and they gave me a verbal offer, telling me to expect a written offer within the week. I put in my 2 weeks' notice and left the job at the time.

I did not hear back that first week, and when I reached out for clarification, my interviewer explained that things were hectic at the company (they were getting audited by an authorization company, common in my industry, and the CTO, who likes to review all offers, has not had time to review it). That went on for some time, but last week they emailed me to confirm that they still intended to hire me, and to thank me for my patience. So I do have an offer in writing, though not a formal one. Unfortunately they still do not have an expected timeline!

The first time they delayed me, I wrote back indicating that I would need an additional starting bonus to compensate me for my time. They agreed to this. That was 2 weeks ago.

I have continued to interview with other companies in my field, but have not been receiving offers. What is the best way to respond to this most recent email, once again thanking me for my patience, reiterating their desire to hire me, but offering no clear path forward? I have been out of work now for over 6 weeks, and finances are getting tight.

I do not think they are "jerking me around" as some replies to similar questions have implied, as sometimes my contact at the company will reach out to me with a status update (no change!) without me reaching out first. I believe they intend to hire me, but (for a variety of nebulous internal obstacles) are unable to close to the loop.


Similar Questions

This is mostly about the legal side of things in the UK, with the advice to continue applying for jobs, which I am.

The advice here is to get the offer in writing (I have emails) and to search elsewhere (I have been, though unsuccessfully).

This is about a start date that keeps getting moved. In my case, I have not been given one. The advice given here is to exercise patience, and to not leave your job until the written offer is in hand. That ship has sailed for me.


Edit: My question is: How can I best respond to this recruiter to communicate the urgency of my situation and speed things along ?

I am also curious about the normalcy of this experience, which seems to have been largely addressed.

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    Truly sorry for your situation. You hit all the right notes in your post, and know what to do moving forward. This is a big lesson for all of us. At this point, what is your question ? How can we provide input to help ? Sep 1 at 0:40
  • My question is "How can I best respond to this recruiter to communicate the urgency of my situation and speed things along". I am also curious about the normalcy of this experience, which seems to have been largely addressed.
    – ale10ander
    Sep 1 at 1:53
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    "Don't give your notice UNTIL you have the new contract with the start date", been said so often on here.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 1 at 5:57
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    "How can I best respond to this recruiter to communicate the urgency of my situation and speed things along" — how can you word your e-mail reply differently to make the company hire you quicker? I suspect you can't. Sep 1 at 10:21
  • 3
    Be cautious about reading too much into that starting bonus because if you don't start (because they choose not to give you a contract) the starting bonus goes away with non-existant contract. Sep 2 at 14:58

8 Answers 8

64

Some organizations have really slow hiring processes. Big companies are prone to it, government and academia even more so. But it can afflict smaller companies, especially fast growing ones where they are still using processes applicable to a company much smaller than they currently are. The phrase "CTO likes to review all hires" convinces me you are dealing with one of those. The CTO hasn't realized that the company is now so big they can't review all hires in a timely fashion.

The company does not look like it is jerking you around. The fact that they agreed to a sign on bonus makes me pretty convinced of that. HR probably sympathizes with your frustration but can't do anything about it.

The good news is that their problems are probably not a general indication of ineptitude. Often the actual working parts of such companies function pretty well. So my advice would be:

  • be patient and keep communicating with the company; ask when they can realistically get you a written offer.

  • keep looking at other jobs just in case, but don't accept something else unless it's actually better than this offer;

  • every so often, remind them you are still waiting;

  • if you get offered something else you are tempted to take, tell them that and see if they will expedite your offer.

  • If you haven't actually stopped working for your old company, consider going to them and saying "my new job has delayed my start - I could work an extra couple of weeks for you if you like"

And of course next time round don't quit your job until you have an actual firm offer with a start date.

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    OP already quit their current job.
    – bob
    Sep 1 at 13:22
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    Yep, the only mistake I see in the OP is that they've already quit their current job. I can't emphasize this enough: In the future, do not turn in your notice until you have a written, formal offer. Not a promise, not a verbal offer, not a "maybe". If they say they want you to start next week but can't get you the offer till Tuesday, tell them you need two weeks from Tuesday to serve out your notice period. Sep 1 at 15:07
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    @SilvioMayolo I'd go further and say wait until you have signed the offer...
    – user541686
    Sep 2 at 3:41
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    8 weeks is way too long for any delay in a hiring process. Even companies with slow hiring processes can still send out formal offers in about 2 or 3 weeks at the latest. Sep 2 at 20:41
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    @Job_September_2020 I wish that were true, but unfortunately there are some that can't. I've seen governments take months. Sep 3 at 2:18
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This does not bode well.

Your prospective employer really screwed this up. You quit your job after the promise of a written offer and they leave you hanging for 6+ weeks. That's not cool. Even if they eventually come through, you probably should reassess carefully whether you really want to work for an employer like this. Could be incompetence, could be carelessness, could be bad corporate culture, etc. None of these feel great.

At this point, the best you can do is treat this mentally as a "write off" and focus your full attention and effort on getting a new job somewhere else. If an offer actually shows up, you can reassess the situation but otherwise I would mainly ignore it.

Good luck.

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    Agreed. If they're like this before you start, how bad will it be once you've joined?
    – The Betpet
    Sep 1 at 10:39
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The first time they delayed me, I wrote back indicating that I would need an additional starting bonus to compensate me for my time. They agreed to this. That was 2 weeks ago.

Sounds like they wish to bring you on board in good faith but last time I checked, you can't pay bills with faith.

I have continued to interview with other companies in my field, but have not been receiving offers.

You are doing the right thing. Keep trying, but you might have to settle for a less-than-desirable job to avoid going completely broke.

What is the best way to respond to this most recent email, once again thanking me for my patience, reiterating their desire to hire me, but offering no clear path forward?

Short of retaining a lawyer, not much.

You need to have a written offer from another company in-hand, then you can give your recruiter an ultimatum. Aside from this, you have zero leverage.


Per your comments:

How can I best respond to this recruiter to communicate the urgency of my situation and speed things along?

You have zero leverage, sorry. Get a lawyer or a job offer elsewhere, period.

I am also curious about the normalcy of this experience, which seems to have been largely addressed.

Yes, hiring processes can takes weeks or months. I'm sincerely sorry for the lesson you have hopefully learned; don't quit unless you have a signed contract, planned for a hiatus, or your employer is dangerously abusive.


The final "Hail Mary":

Assuming that you left your previous job professionally and did not burn bridges you can reach out to them and ask for your old job back. This is very tricky for obvious reasons. If you are given your old job back then you better stay for a respectable amount of time before job hunting.

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    What would retaining a lawyer do? The company never breached any contract or violated any law.
    – user20925
    Sep 1 at 18:22
  • If it was in good faith, they would have extended a written offer. Sep 1 at 19:04
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    @user20925 Verbal contracts are a thing.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 1 at 19:13
  • @MonkeyZeus - Verbal contracts are difficult to prove in a court of law, and that requires resources and services to enforce, and reimbursement of those fees are not guaranteed if the plaintiff wins.
    – Donald
    Sep 3 at 6:31
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    @Donald I said they exist. I did not say that it is the best route.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 6 at 12:35
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There's not much you can do now. "Hey, can you please hire me faster" wouldn't help, I don't think there's any intentional delay.

"Hi, how's it going? I'm just wondering if there's any update on the hiring process?" is about as much as you can do.

In the future though:

Don't quit until you have signed a formal offer

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    And I would add not a contingent off. If they are saying 'contingent on passing the background check/drug test/anything', then that's not an offer. It's not something you can rely on to quit your current job. Sep 6 at 21:59
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    When I last changed jobs my new company wanted references from my current company who delayed and delayed it. Until all that was done and I had the signed the contract from my new company I didn't hand in my notice. I was under pressure from the new company to hand in my notice but wouldn't until all was sorted.
    – scfwilson
    Sep 8 at 10:56
  • Agree 100%. Get a written offer to start 2 1/2 - 3 weeks from the date of the offer. That will give you time to give your current employer 2 weeks notice. Until you have a written offer, you don't have anything. Sep 9 at 0:24
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You can't, so keep looking

Unfortunately you can't force someone to hire you. Continuing to interview is your best course of action, and if you get written offers at other companies (actual offers, not vague assurances that they plan to hire you; no snark intended here, but the distinction is important) that are acceptable to you, strongly consider taking one unless you get a corresponding one from the company in question. I would not stay unemployed based on vague assurances that may never come to fruition. Your needs are not the company's needs.

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Verbal offers should be considered no offers. Unless an offer is in writing, it is worth nothing. You are getting played. It could be because of many reasons.

Cut your losses and move on. It is no use flogging a dead horse. If they don’t want to employ you, they simply don’t.

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There are many reasons why company would not give you a decisive information about a starting date. In any case, the urgency of your situation is your problem and not theirs.

  1. They are not sure when they need you.

    It's quite common when there's a new project going to start and a department needs new people. But they need them first when the project starts, and they can't dedicate to learning new workers as long as the previous project hasn't finish so they simply delay. Maybe they need you in a few weeks, maybe in a half of year. From their point of view, you're ready, so they can tell you to give a notice when it's the time. You've messed up by already giving notice but it's not their problem.

  2. Many decision makers are in play

    Your future manager wants you, needs you, and accepted your conditions, but someone above need to accept that decision and there's some friction, mostly of financial nature. The fact that department A urgently need more workers doesn't mean that the finance guy will allow for bigger budget.

  3. They are not sure

    They haven't given you binding offer, so they keep you as an option and can change their mind without any consequences in any moment. Maybe they're having new hire and you're just a reserve in case they fail or whatever.

Keep in mind, that whatever the reason is, both parties can change their mind as long as the contract is not signed. This is the reason why you're told not to give your notice before you have new job. It doesn't help you much in your case, but you should definitely keep looking for new job.

-5

You're asking the wrong question. Here's the piece you're missing:

An employment relationship has 2 parts: What you do for the company, and what the company does for you. The first part is commonly called "work", and the second part is commonly called "pay". Work and pay tend to be correlated, but don't necessarily have to be. The contract specifies the terms of the work, and the terms of the pay, but does not usually correlate them, if you are a salaried employee (i.e. you usually cannot be docked pay for not working; you can be fired or have other disciplinary action against you, but you can't be docked pay, as a salaried employee).

So here's the thing: As an employment contract, the offer you have specifies a start date on the contract for the terms of the contract to begin. That includes both work and pay. Now, as the beneficiary of the "work" part of the contract, the company is, at their discretion, allowed to waive or modify the terms of the work, which they have chosen to do by not "closing the loop", as you put it. However, without mutual agreement, they do not have the ability to waive or modify the terms of the "pay" part of the agreement. They need to check that with you. Now, it's common, when a company needs a few days here or there, for a new hire to give the company some amount of leeway in a show of good faith, but this case sounds particularly egregious and doesn't fall into "good faith" anymore, as far as I'm concerned.

So, here's what I would do in this situation:

  1. If you haven't already, sign the offer as soon as you possibly can, and return it. Presumably it's already countersigned; that's usually how it's done, where the company signs the offer first before they send it to you. A double-signed offer is legally binding, which means it can be brought to court if necessary.

  2. Inform the company that it has been X days since you were supposed to start work. According to the terms of the contract, you need to be paid for those days; the fact that they haven't bothered to onboard you is their problem, not yours, but according to the terms of the contract you started working a while ago and you want to be paid.

  3. If they argue with you on this (which they most certainly will), find an employment lawyer and show them the contract and see if you have a legal case. Chances are you probably do.

  4. Sue the company for back-pay and get yourself paid.

  5. Continue sitting back and doing nothing while collecting a paycheque, until the company decides to get off their ass and onboard you.

Addendum: I don't know what you mean in your question by "starting bonus". I take that to mean an added bonus onto your first paycheque, once you actually start working. A starting bonus is not what you want; the company can agree to these terms but then never actually adhere to them if they never actually employ you and pay you that first paycheque. If they simply leave you hanging forever, your starting bonus is moot. What you want is a "signing bonus"; it's an amount payable to you on signing of the contract, regardless of whether or not you actually ever start working. You should negotiate a signing bonus, not a starting bonus, and then sign the contract immediately, collect that bonus, and then after that see the above steps.

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    You must be reading a different question from me. So far as I can see, there is no contract to sign, and no start date. Only a verbal offer and an emailed statement of intent.
    – Simon B
    Sep 1 at 15:54
  • @SimonB Second paragraph, near the end, in bold. OP has an offer in writing.
    – Ertai87
    Sep 1 at 18:45
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    @Ertai87 immediately after the bold, "though not a formal [offer]"
    – BruceWayne
    Sep 1 at 19:26
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    What OP meant by "offer in writing" is an e-mail stating "we still intend to hire you".
    – justhalf
    Sep 1 at 19:31

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