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I'm new to the job hunt, and a potential employer recently responded to my e-mail asking what my expected salary is and when's the earliest I can begin. I'm calculating my expected salary with the average of salaries in this position—but I'm not sure when an acceptable start-date is.

Ideally, I'd like it to be the end of August (2 months from now); that is when my lease ends. If need be, though, I'll start ASAP and pay rent on this place 'til the lease is up from afar.

Is 2 months acceptable, or too long? Do I increase my chances by saying "immediately"?

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    Consider adding a location tag as this can vary by country. The US standard notice period is 2 weeks for instance while in some European countries it's counted in months. – Lilienthal Jul 1 '15 at 19:33
  • When you say "I'm new to the job hunt", do you mean that this is your first full time job you're talking about? – Carson63000 Jul 2 '15 at 0:12
  • Not quite. I mean it's the first full time job I give a shit about. :p – AmagicalFishy Jul 3 '15 at 4:47
  • they have not made a firm commitment to hire you. in this. case say after 2 weeks notice. the earlier they decide to proceed with you the sooner you can start. if you say 2 months and they dither for 59 days are you really ready to start on day.60? – emory Jul 22 '15 at 8:03
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Is 2 months acceptable, or too long?

It depends solely on the employer, and on the potential employee.

In some situations I have hired really good folks and have been willing to wait a few months. But in other cases, I need to fill a vacancy quickly, and 2 months would not be acceptable.

Do I increase my chances by saying "immediately"?

Probably, but it always depends on the specific circumstances.

In this case, since they asked "when's the earliest [you] can begin", time is probably important.

Your best bet is to be honest and say something like "Ideally, I'd like to start at the end of August. But I understand if that isn't acceptable in this case, and I'd be willing to start sooner if needed."

That way, you are giving them a chance to wait, but also indicating that you really want the job and are willing to go out of your way to get it.

This assumes that you do want this particular job, and are willing to change your desired schedule for it. If that's not the case, then just decline any offer from a company that isn't willing to wait and move on to the next offer.

  • Generally what is the standard notice period in your geographic area is the longest they want to her unless there are special circumstances. So in one country that might be 2 weeks in another tha might be 3 months. However, Joe is correct, tell them you would like to start in August (and taht is because you need your lease to be up so you can move closer) but would be willing to start earlier if need be if you can have time off to move when the lease expires. – HLGEM Jul 1 '15 at 18:50
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To add to @Joe Strazzere's (very good) answer, I would say that normally two months seems long.

However there are a vast number of factors that come into play for me as a hiring manager:

  • What is my team's workload?
  • When are my deadlines?
  • How does a delayed start risk my project?
  • What could be pushed back to accommodate a later start?
  • Are there background/security check requirements for the role? Will that allow a two month delay?
  • Do I have other candidates who are nearly as good who can start sooner?

It's never a cut and dried reason in every case, but the factors that most managers will keep in mind will have similarities. If a manager feels your expected contribution to the team outweighs other factors, then he or she will say yes. However if they don't, then yes it can be enough to overlook you for another candidate.

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Most employers are not looking for a response a couple months out. Even in long distance relocation scenarios for new hires, you should be able to start within a week or two. Anything more than a couple of weeks out unless you need to give notice to a current employer or you're in the middle of selling a house or looking for housing to relocate to a new job and it makes you come off as not so serious about the job opportunity.

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There's a bit more to consider here, and it does depend on you current contract, on the new company, and the specific application process.

Applying now could get you an interview in about a week or two, and an offer about a week or two after that - so 3-4 weeks between now and the offer. Then if you have to give a months notice in your current job, you're now at the end of August, which is about where you want to be.

I'd simply state that you would prefer to start on a specific date (August 30th or whenever), but that you are flexible. But you need to make sure that they're aware that you have a notice period, and so you can't start any sooner than x weeks after you agree to an offer.

As for whether it will hurt your chances - in this case, probably not - especially given the time it will take to proceed with the application and interview. If you were to say you needed 2 months from the offer, then that would be a different matter.

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