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I have accepted a job that was verbally offered to me in a phone call from the employer after an interview (with two people), a technical test (evaluated by a specialist) and a selection from a small pool of qualified candidates. I agreed to all the terms and was told that I would receive a contract from HR soon, but that they were a bit...slow. The employer told me that I could ideally start working within two weeks. (Clearly we have a different definition of "slow", but I'm not complaining.)

Questions:

Are there any legal advantages to requesting a written confirmation of this offer before hearing from HR, or is the "anxious first-time employee" vibe off-putting for an employer? Is it weird if it's been a few days since I verbally accepted the offer?

What is the expected/usual/common time frame between the offer and the contract, and the contract and the first day? With the suggested two-week time frame in mind, what would a likely time for me to receive the contract? Past that time, should the employer be contacted just in case?

In the event that I'm contacted by other employers with a follow-up on an application I sent them, should I explain that I'm mid-hiring process with another company? Would specifying that nothing has been signed yet make me sound like an opportunistic jackass or, on the contrary, would it be a good move just in case something happens on HR's end? Would it be disrespectful not to mention it? Because it's one of those "everyone knows everyone" fields, would I be shooting myself in the foot by agreeing to interviews elsewhere?

Bonus Question:

I have a Friday-Sunday trip (non-refundable event tickets purchased a year ago) that falls right on my expected second week of work. I absolutely have to take the entire Friday off. When and how should I bring this up? Can an employer refuse to let me miss work strictly on the basis that I'm a new employee? Is there anything I can suggest to do (work remotely, unpaid overtime, etc.) to make up for it? How do I bring that up?

  • Your trip really ought to have been brought up already. It's entirely possible that you won't have any accumulated vacation time to be able to take the day off. The company may let you go negative or they may let you delay your start date a couple weeks. But that's a much easier conversation to have before you accept an offer than if you spring this on your manager at the last moment. – Justin Cave Sep 18 '15 at 9:47
  • "Are there any legal advantages to requesting a written confirmation of this offer before hearing from HR" - What exactly do you want them to give you in writing other than a contract? – Brandin Sep 18 '15 at 10:38
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    When and how should I bring this up? You should have brought it up when you received the verbal offer. Your main question is company specific issue. No one knows how long it will take to receive the written offer. Anywhere between now and possibly two weeks later (or even longer). – scaaahu Sep 18 '15 at 11:48
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Interaction during the first few weeks with a new employer is always awkward. You never know what the culture there is - you're not sure whether things you do are taken well or not and so on.

It's fine to be uncertain about this sort of thing and indeed some employers will see this as entirely fine and others will find it a bit odd - but no one reasonable would rescind an offer over it. So, if this is something that worries you by all means do it.

I also tend to disagree with the other answer - there are plenty of cases where there is no offer in writing and there is in fact an offer. I've seen this happen many times and while it can bite you it shouldn't be a red flag. Even if there is a written offer they can just fire you on the first day or cancel the offer before you start.

The safest way is to only do business with people you can trust - if the people seem shadey walk away if you can afford it.

In the event that I'm contacted by other employers with a follow-up on an application I sent them, should I explain that I'm mid-hiring process with another company?

By all means do keep interviewing, be completely honest about where you stand but interviewing more is the rational thing to do. The worst case scenario is that you get a new (and better) offer (related).

I have a Friday-Sunday trip (non-refundable event tickets purchased a year ago) that falls right on my expected second week of work. I absolutely have to take the entire Friday off. When and how should I bring this up?

As soon as possible and as plainly as possible. In general, you should bring up any information that is relevant to your employer's ability to schedule your tasks as soon as possible. Communication is important.

Can an employer refuse to let me miss work strictly on the basis that I'm a new employee?

That depends on where you live and the rules there - but typically yes. In most places in the world the employer can refuse you vacation for any reason (in some places they have to offer you alternative dates).

Is there anything I can suggest to do (work remotely, unpaid overtime, etc.) to make up for it? How do I bring that up?

Don't undersell yourself, don't suggest anything fishy (unpaid overtime) since that typically just comes off as unprofessional. Generally - don't apologize for asking reasonable things and communicating where you stand.

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    Re: Offer in writing, I've actually had an experience where nothing was in writing until I showed up on the first day and they made me stop by HR to sign the paperwork, so it's definitely something I'm familiar with. Thank you for your detailed answer! – Nils Sep 18 '15 at 18:24
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Are there any legal advantages to requesting a written confirmation of this offer before hearing from HR, or is the "anxious first-time employee" vibe off-putting for an employer? Is it weird if it's been a few days since I verbally accepted the offer?

Until you get the offer in writing, there is no offer. The advice is to never quit the current job until you have returned the signed written offer back to the new company. Even if you don't have an old job, you have to know that there is no agreement until that offer is signed.

What is the expected/usual/common time frame between the offer and the contract, and the contract and the first day? With the suggested two-week time frame in mind, what would a likely time for me to receive the contract? Past that time, should the employer be contacted just in case?

After a few days I would drop a quick note to your contact. Because of you bonus question( a vacation day almost immediately you have an excuse to contact the company and ask about a work/HR procedure.)

In the event that I'm contacted by other employers with a follow-up on an application I sent them, should I explain that I'm mid-hiring process with another company? Would specifying that nothing has been signed yet make me sound like an opportunistic jackass or, on the contrary, would it be a good move just in case something happens on HR's end? Would it be disrespectful not to mention it? Because it's one of those "everyone knows everyone" fields, would I be shooting myself in the foot by agreeing to interviews elsewhere?

Until you get the offer in writing, there is no offer. Don't even tell the other companies that you are expecting an offer any day now. In fact my advice is to keep applying. Sometimes these verbal offers evaporate, or there is some aspect of them that makes you want to refuse it.

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