A company wants to rush a start date without having results of a background check. This is the second time it's happened to me. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

They want me to put in my two weeks notice at my current job without knowing the results of the check. Could it be that they know the results, and just have not said?

I don't understand. Would you not need the results before you start pushing for dates? Does anyone know why they might be behaving this way, and is this behaviour common?

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    Because it's no risk to them if the results are unacceptable. I personally would not resign on the hope that it will be OK. Mistakes happen and I would rather work them out while I'm still employed. – ColleenV parted ways Apr 27 '15 at 14:04
  • I would be concerned about the rush. It's a sign the company is not well organized. – Kathy Apr 27 '15 at 14:13
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    @ColleenV What would you tell the company? "Can't start until the background check has cleared" – Dana Apr 27 '15 at 14:13
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    It would really be dependent on the conversation with the company so far. I would probably say something like I'm uncomfortable starting before everything is finalized. I'm the sort of person that really likes to have all my ducks in a row because I find it prevents a lot of hassle. If they try to bully you into going against your instincts, I would reevaluate whether you really want that job. – ColleenV parted ways Apr 27 '15 at 14:20
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    Another factor is that background checks cost money and they want to put you in a position where it's difficult for you to change your mind about the job after they've already invested in you. They probably believe the check will be fine, and it's not a problem for them if it isn't. – ColleenV parted ways Apr 27 '15 at 14:24

This is pretty common. Most companies want you to start as soon as possible, and don't expect there will be a problem with the background check, and thus want to get a start date while the background check is still in progress. As noted in the comments, the only danger to them if it fails is they have to move to their next choice.

You can push back, telling them that you don't expect any problems with the background check, but you'd still feel better waiting to give notice until there are no caveats in the job offer. A reasonable company should respect that, recognizing the position they are putting you in.

Other companies will assure you the background check is just a formality, and the conditional job offer really is a strong one. I've believed that and haven't had issues, but it doesn't mean that you should do the same.

The danger is if the offer is from an unreasonable company. Some companies will withdraw an offer if there is any push back. You probably don't want to work for a company like that anyway, especially since you still have a job.


HR probably requires a background check that takes X amount of time.

Manager Y can let you start without completion of the background check and manager Y wants/needs you now.

If you fail the background check then you are out of a job but manager Y still has a job. Manager Y does not really care if you are out of a job. Me, I don't want to work for manager Y.

If you have nothing that would fail a background check then the risk is low. If you have never been arrested, no drug problems, no financial problems, and are not associated with any questionable groups you are probably good. I had a friend take a job and then lose it because she had a prior DUI and they could not get (economical) professional insurance on her. And yet they never asked her if she had a DUI. So I would be careful.

Me I would tell them then fine - you can wait for the background check to clear or guarantee me 12 months pay even if it fails.

True story. I was doing consulting work for a US Federal agency and had card key access to a secure data room. A year into it they finally got around to a background check. I told them I was on site every week to come see me at work and they said no has to be at your home. So then like 4 months later I had a week off and they did the background check. I passed the check and the contract ended two weeks later.

  • There's a good chance that manager Y would fall under scrutiny for short-cutting any vetting procedures if a new hire was deemed unsuitable due to background checks - he might not lose his job, but he would probably lose opportunity for advancement. – HorusKol Apr 28 '15 at 1:20

It depends on what the "Background Check" is. If it's just an HR formality, then I'd either insist on a guarantee of a certain amount of pay (6 or 12 months) IN WRITING, or tell them to just wait it out. They're probably using a clearing house that takes a while, and don't want to pay an expedite fee. These are really annoying, as there's very little assurance that the agency will "get it right" and it's just a thing they have for marketing, like cleaning services have.

If it's for a financial sector, or perhaps even a full SSBI security check, those can take weeks and/or months, because they are thorough. Companies that play in the "Major leagues" with these know what they are doing. They have a great deal of onboarding and training that you'll have to go through, and they also have non-secure work to do while waiting for these to complete. These are the "Big boys," and would not have even extended you an offer if you hadn't passed an initial background check (which they can do very quickly).

If this is Raytheon, then they know what they're doing and I'd proceed. If this is "Ray and Leon's Software Consulting," I wouldn't jump until they make a firm, unconditional offer.

My opinion only, your mileage may vary.


From your point of view it is not about the background check. It's about having an unconditional job offer. Your only possible line should be "I will give notice when I have an unconditional job offer from you". If they want you to give notice now, they can give you an unconditional job offer. Nothing is compelling them to wait for the results of the background check. It's entirely up to them and you should say that.

Don't worry about upsetting your new manager. If you do a good job, they will quickly forget about the 'late' start.

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