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I have a job offer for which the company proposed a start date exactly 2 weeks out. If I accept today and give my 2 weeks notice tomorrow, my last day would be on a Friday and I'd start the new job on the following Monday.

I would like some time off to relax between the jobs. I don't have any pre-booked vacation or anything extraordinary that I could cite - I just want some time off.

Would asking for this show disinterest, like saying "Yes, I am excited to work for you guys... but not excited enough to start right away"?

Should I only give notice when the background checks and everything else comes back and it's more official, in case HR at new job messes things up, my records get confused with someone else's, etc.? Would this make them think I may have a bad background I am trying to hide?

Is it appropriate to ask for the extra week? If it is, are both factors (waiting to give notice and just wanting downtime) important, or should I only cite one of them? How should I frame my response to the recruiter (who will deliver the message for me indirectly)?

  • Your recruiter makes a good point. However, you could ask for an extra week to make your decision. Since, as you say, you'd only have time to think on it today, and hand in your notice tomorrow. It's still a little risky though, as they might suspect you having another offer and just cut you off. If you really impressed them, I doubt that'll happen though. – Ivo Coumans Mar 5 '15 at 15:55
  • I don't know that asking for an extra week is feasible. The offer came on Monday, they originally wanted 48 hours, the recruiter delayed for me until Friday, but then when the updated offer came in he said he thought I should give my answer today (Thursday). – EF0 Mar 5 '15 at 15:57
  • Ah, I see! That changes it a little. I'm afraid I can't really offer any advice from experience then. I can only speculate, but I think it will most likely reflect badly to ask for a week before starting, unless you can come up with some valid, personal reasons (e.g. relocation). – Ivo Coumans Mar 5 '15 at 15:59
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    From personal experience, that sort of pushiness in recruiters is sort of a default mode which is annoying and has very little relation to reality. I had a recruiter push me to go to interviews on a day that wasn't suitable just in case the company couldn't make it another day. But when I said I couldn't make it to the actual company, they just rescheduled like normal people. The company will not suffer because you start 1 or 2 weeks later refreshed and eager. Your recruiter sounds like a douche who is artificially creating urgency for his own gain, I would say ignore him. – grasshopper Mar 5 '15 at 19:36
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My experience in the software industry is that companies almost always want you to start right away and they almost never actually need you to. I've given myself short gaps between jobs every single time and it's never been a problem. On the hiring side, I've never noticed a problem if a candidate needs an extra week or two. Unless the recruiter has specific knowledge of this company or position, I would assume that that's just general recruiter urgency -- he doesn't get paid until you're in the new position so naturally he wants to expedite.

Further, in your case the offer isn't even solid yet; it's contingent on the background check. The background check is low-risk, but you never know what might cause a problem -- maybe that late cable bill last year dinged your credit score and they care about that? You never know, so it is prudent to not give notice until you have the commitment in hand.

The way you communicate this is to raise the following points:

  • You are eager to start with the new company. That's why you chose them when you had other offers. Be positive about the job.

  • However, you can't give notice until you have a solid offer. Then you have an obligation to your current company to effect an orderly transition. Even if some people would just walk out, your sense of professionalism doesn't allow that. (The company hiring you would want you to treat them the same way, after all.)

  • Finally, in order to start fresh at the new position, you need a bit of time between jobs. You would rather take that before starting (and not on their dime) so you can dive right in, especially as it will (presumably) be a while before you'd be able to take a week of vacation.

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    I will strongly agree with your final point. Often people aren't good about using up their PTO and doing so during notice is typically a bridge burned. Plus not being able to take a vacation for like 90 days can leave you with zero detox time for months. It's just a good idea to take a week or two detox from the old job, get your head together, and come into the new job fresh. – RualStorge Mar 5 '15 at 17:09
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    to add to the response. It's totally okay to ask about it. Explain you need a mental break and you want to go into the new job fresh. What's the worse it could happen? They don't agree with this? – Mircea Mar 5 '15 at 18:27
  • as far as PTO goes, if you don't take the time you get the money - so that should not be an issue – Mircea Mar 5 '15 at 18:28
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    @Mircea if you don't take the time you get the money (modulo any company limits on that), but you can't necessarily use that money to buy PTO at the new place, so the result is that you lose the downtime. Joe, yes if it's really important that you start at a particular time that'll become clear; I was speaking generally. It doesn't hurt to ask. – Monica Cellio Mar 5 '15 at 19:12

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