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I received an offer letter stating a start date pending on background check and drug screening. I quit my job on Friday thinking I be starting on Monday as it stated on my offer letter. It's almost two weeks since I filled out all the documentation for background check and drug screening. I have been contacting the prospective employer, each time they told me the hold up was due to information from one particular section of the criminal record hasn't been received. I'm worried that they might retract the offer and decide not to hire me after all. All my previous background checks have taken at most 5 business days. Just confused at this point. Any thoughts on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Here is an added update to my situation above.

It has been 10 business days since the offer letter. Yesterday I search through their website and noticed the same position that I received the offer letter for was reposted the DAY AFTER they emailed the offer letter. I emailed the supervisor, he called me right away and insisted that it was still the incomplete background check that is being held up and the posting was set up because the company had a hiring freeze but they jump through hoops to get that one particular position opened back up so they can hire me. Now it's just a matter of waiting for one particular city reporting on my background. I had already told him that I already quit my job because my background had been always positive and comes back quickly. He apologized and still insisted that I'm their "golden child" for that position and he has interviewed no one else but me since offer letter. That may seemed very positive, but somehow, I still have doubts. Needs more input on this matter.

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    Is there something on your background that may cause issues? Otherwise, all you can do is to stay in contact with their HR department. Quitting your job without an unconditional offer is always dangerous. – Jane S Oct 8 '15 at 22:10
  • If I was you just start looking for a job as a backup plan. Maybe it may be an administration problem – Ed Heal Oct 8 '15 at 22:10
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    OK, I think you should be safe as long as you didn't do drugs or anything of that matter. However, generally - you should never commit to any new job until you are 100% sure you'll get it. I don't like the wording of "a start date pending on background check and drug screening." – Adel Oct 8 '15 at 22:32
  • I realized my mistake. I have nothing to be afraid of in my background nor on drug screening.. Just seemed weird it's taking this long. – Potential Employee Oct 8 '15 at 22:53
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I am not sure what industry the job is in but some industries are more strict that others and background checks must be completed. However, my personal experience of this is that they do not usually give you a start date until completion.

The longest I've had background checks take before being issued a start date was 6 weeks. It was solely because one of my previous jobs were being extremely slow with my reference.

I would recommend you start looking for a back up but in the meantime, it would not be remiss to email your contact along the lines of "I am really keen to start with you and am available immediately. Is there anything I can do to assist with the checks?"

In my personal case, it required me to visit the employer and chase my reference in person.

Hopefully that gives you an idea on what you can do in your particular case.

Another thought is has your previous employer filled your position? If you are still on good turns, why not see if they would like you to stick around a few more weeks for the "transition period"?

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...start date pending on background check and drug screening. I quit my job...

Unfortunately, this one's on you. What you have is a contingent offer that said you could start on date x if nothing adverse came out of your background check or drug test. Neither you nor the company really has a lot of control over how long either will take, and in your case it probably went longer than they figured it would.

Two bits of advice for next time:

First, don't quit your old job until you have an offer that will allow you to start work (i.e., any contingencies have been satisfied). As you found out, things don't always go according to plan.

Second, don't negotiate an absolute start date in an offer with contingencies you aren't 100% sure can be satisfied before that date. Make it relative to the contingencies being satisfied and far off enough to give notice to your old employer and serve out that time.

  • Yup. Don't assume that you have a job until they actually produce a contract and a guaranteed start date. I've seen some pretty nasty wait times stretch out. One time I was hired (not just potentially hired but actually 'welcome to the company' hired) in December and I didn't actually start working until March. True story. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Oct 9 '15 at 20:11

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