I am going to start a new job soon in another country. I was confirmed I was going to get hired one month ago, and at the time I gave my availability to start as soon as possible. We set a possible start date, but we had to wait for a number of checks and verifications before being sure of the date.

Since the date was approaching with no news, a few days ago I informed my future boss that without a quick confirmation it was becoming difficult for me to organise myself for moving. He is open and understanding, but also made clear that he prefers me to start at the earliest date possible.

The confirmation arrived 5 days before the start date, and I am asked to say tomorrow if I am ready or not for next week. While the thing is actually possible, it would be much easier for me to delay everything by one week.

On one hand, my boss was explicit about his preference, on the other hand, I was given only short notice. Would asking for a delay be unprofessional?

  • 2
    Would the start date be a logistical (packing, moving) or courtesy (informing and giving notice to your current employer) issue?
    – Bluebird
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 16:23
  • @BobtheBuilder this is my first job, the issue is logistical
    – Areo
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 16:24
  • 2
    First position, moving overseas, there is a good chance that unexpected issues will come up. Ask for the extra time. If you're just talking about one week, they'll probably be fine with it. Usually people need a lot more than that when they talk about needing more. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:16
  • Your mistake was saying you were available as soon as possible. If you needed time to be ready, you should have said you can be ready x weeks or days after confirmation.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 10:17

4 Answers 4


When a boss asks "can you start in five days" he does not mean "is it theoretically possible that, if everything goes well, you will be ready to start in five days". He means "Are you reasonably sure you will be ready to start in five days, whatever goes wrong.". This is true of all time estimates, and not realizing this is responsible for a lot of over-optimistic scheduling.

Unless you are pretty confident that you can start in five days even if things go against you, and are willing to put the extra work into doing things on short notice, you should immediately get back to your boss and tell him that five days is a risky deadline, and that an extra week (or two) would be a lot safer. Much better to do it this way than fail to show up next week because of something unexpected.

If the factors that would delay you starting are 'administrative', and the company really wants you to start early, then negotiate on having them do things for you that you would make that happen. For example, they might be prepared to pay for you to live in a hotel for a few weeks in your new town while you get yourself relocated, or for professional movers to handle your stuff, or for several trips between the old and new towns while you organize things. How much they are prepared to pay to make it happen is often a good measure of how much they really want you to start early.

There is nothing unprofessional about asking for a delay. What would be unprofessional would be committing to an early start date and not being able to achieve it.


Then it sounds like either today or tomorrow you need to ask them for one more week to move and see what they say. Sounds like your boss could be fairly accommodating to that request as that's not a completely unreasonable amount of extra time to ask for. The worst they can say is no, in which case you'll need to get packed and moved before then, or risk losing the job.

That said, if you knew the date was approaching and that everything would likely clear before then, you really should have been doing what you could to move, even on short notice. You can easily pack up non-essentials over the month, as most items you need daily/weekly can usually be packed up in short order (clothing, dishes, etc.)

  • I also wanted to add, that depending on the move (country, regional, local) some items can be discarded: furniture especially. Carry with you what you need rather than want for the job. Everything else can be purchased at a later date. Remember that just because an offer is extended to you doesn't mean that they don't have alternative candidates waiting down the list who are local and can literally work tomorrow at a drop of a hat.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 16:27
  • Really even pre packed it should be easy enough to get movers, get to another country, and find accommodations in 5 days.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:30

If it is actually possible then why delay? It creates a problem and inconveniences your employer unnecessarily. It's not particularly unprofessional to ask for a delay.

But it totally professional not to, and just get on with the job.


You can start work now, and move later -- ask friends to finish packing, or to supervise movers paid to pack. If they need you now, starting now is the best answer. They may let you delay, but you'll be starting on the wrong note.

  • 2
    You can also state to the new boss that you need 5 extra days to move. That 5 days can be now or it can be in 2 weeks. Maybe they want you there for some training, or to visit with someone who is leaving, and can accommodate your move later.
    – MikeP
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 22:24

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