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I am currently employed and another company contacted me about a new position the company is creating. They are hoping to have the individual start on July 1 - four months away. They targeted me as their desired employee before they advertised for the position; however, I have been asked to accept or decline by mid-March, presumably to allow them enough time to advertise, interview, etc. should I decline. If I accept, I will not be noted as the official hire until the Board approves the decision (which would occur at the end of April).

My request to you folks is as follows:

  1. If I accept the position in March, but I am not confirmed by the Board until April (they can ultimately reject the Executive Director's proposed hire) and the position doesn't start until July, what is the appropriate amount of time to give notice to my current employer?

  2. A few individuals are Board members for both my current employer and the future employer. Should I decide to accept the offer, what steps should be taken to ensure a smooth transition with these individual Board members?

  • Located in US. At-Will employment. – Berb Mar 4 '14 at 23:30
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    To be clear: you have received (or will by mid-April) a written job offer, which is contingent on Board approval, right? I couldn't answer how to handle a contingent job offer. But I'm wondering if your mid-March decision is actually more of "can I propose you to the Board and you won't embarrass me by saying 'no' after they go to the trouble of asking you?" In that case, you don't currently have a written offer and I wouldn't notify your current employer based only on a "I'm gonna recommend to my bosses that they hire you". – Wayne Mar 4 '14 at 23:37
  • @Wayne. I agree. If they can still say no, it's not a certain offer. – starsplusplus Mar 10 '14 at 14:45
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If I accept the position in March, but I am not confirmed by the Board until April (they can ultimately reject the Executive Director's proposed hire) and the position doesn't start until July, what is the appropriate amount of time to give notice to my current employer?

In the US, it's general practice to give at least 2 weeks notice. This can vary by your position, as higher positions are typically expected to provide more notice. Executives often give a lot more notice than 2 weeks.

You clearly won't want to give your notice until after you are confirmed by the Board in April. You could give your notice shortly after that, but you would need to gauge for yourself several things:

  • What is the likelihood that the offer could still be withdrawn once confirmed?
  • What is the likelihood that your current employer would dismiss you immediately upon hearing of your plan to leave in July?
  • Do you even care if your current employer dismisses you sooner, rather than later?

A few individuals are Board members for both my current employer and the future employer. Should I decide to accept the offer, what steps should be taken to ensure a smooth transition with these individual Board members?

You should make it clear to the Executive Director that you need these Board members to respect your confidentiality, and not leak the news to your current employer.

Depending on your position, and if this is something that you do in your current role in your current company, you may also want to chat with these Board members individually some time shortly after your confirmation. If you personally part of the confirmation meeting itself, you could even use that as an occasion for discussion and a reminder about your confidentiality need. You could explain your decision to move on, and explain how you will help the transition in your current company.

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    If I could not afford to be unemployed from April until July, I would not consider giving so much notice as they don't have to give you notice to get rid of you in the meantime. I have seen people asked to leave the day they gave notice, really it is risky for anything more than two weeks. Further, when hiring on a long lead time, it is not uncommon for the new job to get cancelled because the project it was planned for got killed or the company went into an unexpected hiring freeze. So it is risky that way too. – HLGEM Mar 6 '14 at 23:46
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tl;dr: Don't do anything until you have the offer in writing.

I have been asked to accept or decline by mid-March, presumably to allow them enough time to advertise, interview, etc. should I decline.

This is the key point of this question. The people on the other end are essentially asking "is it worth going to all this trouble?" You are being asked to give a verbal acceptance to a non-binding, poorly-specified verbal offer.

If I accept, I will not be noted as the official hire until the Board approves the decision (which would occur at the end of April).

What is more likely is that there is a multi-step process:

  1. The Board needs to approve a new hire at all.
  2. A competitive hiring process will commence at that point.
  3. You will be evaluated against possible candidates. 100% of the evaluators might be convinced that you're the right hire.
  4. An actual written offer will be created and sent to the first choice (who might be you).
  5. The first choice candidate will consider the written offer and make an actual acceptance at that point.
  6. Or the first choice candidate will decline the offer and the hiring manager will proceed to the second choice candidate (returning to step 4).

what is the appropriate amount of time to give notice to my current employer?

The key point to remember is that only the written offer is the binding one (at least in the US) and, so, it is the only offer that is actionable. If / when you accept a new position, you will discuss a start date. It is totally appropriate to back up from that start date (e.g., two weeks) and notify your current employer "my last day will be X."

Full disclosure: I went through this exact same process when applying for my current job. Once I had a written offer, we worked out a start date and, from that, I decided on a give-notice day.

My request to you folks is as follows:

Should I decide to accept the offer, what steps should be taken to ensure a smooth transition with these individual Board members?

None. There shouldn't be a need for any action at all. Their role on one Board should be entirely separate from the other. Anything else would be a conflict of interest.

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    I would add to the above to keep looking. Just because you have a "kind-of, sort-of" offer, it really isn't an offer. You might get an offer another company that is actually interested in treating its potential employees with respect, instead of leaving them on the hook for months, in which case, the first "offer" doesn't matter. Bottom line: if they are making offers for positions that aren't really open, then their company is bass-ackwards and you should spend your time pursuing companies that are ready for you to start, soonest. – BryanH Oct 24 '14 at 20:07
  • @BryanH, exactly. – Bob Cross Oct 25 '14 at 1:17
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Normally I would agree with most of the answers here that you should just keep the information to yourself until everything is finalized but, since this position needs to be confirmed by the board, and members of the board that will be approving you overlap, I think that you will be best served by advising your current manager that you are pursuing a potential opportunity with an outside company.

I am assuming this position is a fairly high level management type position since it needs board approval. When you get to higher level positions the number of opportunities for advancement is much more limited than it is with other lower and middle management positions. Since there are member of the board that will know there is a reasonable chance that these board members will reach out to your current manager to vet you. Getting your manager on board for this vetting process will therefore be important if you want to be confirmed by the board.

I would approach your manager as though looking for their guidance as a mentor. I would let your manager know the general details of the offer and the pros and cons you are considering about the position, and ask them if they would support your decision should you choose to accept the offer. I would listen to any advice and criticisms that they may have about this choice and seriously consider what they have to say. If you are being offered the position in the first place my guess would be that your manager is likely to support your decision, but they may have a perspective or insight you are unaware of.

If you do not have a relationship with your manager that allows you to feel comfortable in approaching them with this request, and feel like they are the type that would block it if they could, then I think I pass on this opportunity, and look for similar opportunities with companies that do not share board members with your current employer.

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The biggest problem you face is the overlap between the two companies. Normally you would never tell your current employer until you had to. That would mean don't tell them until there is 100% solid written offer in hand. But probably don't tell them until two weeks before the new start date.

You can ask the board to be sensitive to your situation. But they really can't. They owe a split allegiance to the other company and will likely be forced to tell the company of the material fact that you are leaving. This alert could even come as soon as you appear on the boards agenda. or on their official meeting minutes.

Expect that your current employer may not take it well. You could be gone earlier then the end of June.

Ask the new company why the delay? Approval in April but then waiting for two months. If you say no, will the company do the same for the people that apply for the job. Accept their resume; interview them; do background checks; make them an offer; have the board approve the offer; then wait sixty days? The early offer from the new company should result in an early start date.

Yes the ability to lock you in early is advantageous for them, but then all the risk is on you. Ask when is the soonest you can start? Remember you have a job, and going without income for two month will result in hardship and income that will never be recovered.

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