I accepted a job offer last Friday and signed the papers and filled out the background check form then. Because my current job is wrapping up a project and this new one will have me moving to the other side of the company, I put my start date down a month ahead.

What's the protocol if the check doesn't finish in time to give two weeks notice to my current employer? I'd email my new company but I'm afraid of coming off as clingy or needy. I just don't want to be without a job if the check fails for whatever reason or be unable to give enough notice.

  • 1
    Did you mean "other side of the country" rather than "other side of the company"? Moving within a company would be a different question. Have you asked the new company how long the background check takes? A normal, everyday background check is generally pretty quick. If you're trying to get a security clearance, though, things are rather different. May 31, 2016 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


If the background check delays your start, it's not your problem.

Your new employer should expect that you will give two weeks' notice after receiving the final contract. If they want you to start on a certain date, it is up to them to expedite the background check to ensure that you can give sufficient notice. Any delay in the start date will be due to delays on their end--not your fault.

If two weeks before your start date nears without receiving your contract, I would let them know that your start date may be delayed.

I would say something like this:

I am just writing to enquire about the progress of my background check. As we had agreed, I was hoping to start work on date X, but in order to do that, I'll need to give my two weeks' notice by date Y. Is it realistic to expect to receive my contract by then so that I can go ahead and give my notice?

Thanks for your help, and I'm looking forward to starting soon!

Don't ask the company what they want you to do (because there is only one sensible option for you); just inform them of the potential delay.


If I were you I wouldn't give my notice before they extend you written offer, which I am sure will require a completed background check. Those companies which do background checking are sticklers and I have had a 4+ weeks long wait with one of them because they could not get hold of verification for my degree from my university (overseas) and not bothered to tell me about this. When I learned about this by asking the HR person at my potential employer, I had to use my personal contacts to get the ball rolling on that end. I was lucky that the employer was willing to wait. They could have gone with some other person, who did not have such hard time with this process. And if I had given my resignation, I could have been out of a job. I know it is not ideal to keep working at a place, knowing well that you are not going to be there for the long term, but it beats not getting paid, while waiting for something to happen, which usually is outside your control.

You said you signed the papers, but I am sure there is a contingency clause on those papers saying something to the meaning of "contingent on successful completion of a background check", which says, unless that process is complete, you can not start working for this company. And you should tell them you will need 2 weeks after the contingency is satisfied, unless you want to burn bridges with your current employer and leave them on the spot

  • I accepted a conditional offer and the position was defunded during the background check.
    – emory
    May 31, 2016 at 22:59

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