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I attended an interview on 13th October 2016, and got confirmation of selection the next Monday (17th). A week later, the HR confirmed that she would be releasing the offer letter within 2 days. I have been calling them regularly since then to check on the status of the offer letter. They insist that they would release it the next day each time, but I have not yet received it.

I have also been asked to negotiate the notice period at my current job. It is 90 days, but they have said they would give me about 60 days to join.

I am concerned about the following:

  1. Why are they delaying the offer letter? Is it possible due to the Diwali time?

  2. If I get the offer letter, how should I go about negotiating the notice period?

  • Happy Diwali! By the way, we don't know why they are delaying the offer letter. You will have to ask them. – Masked Man Oct 30 '16 at 6:27
  • Based on mention of Diwali, I am adding the India tag. If it is not relevant, please remove, or post a comment asking me to remove it. – Masked Man Oct 30 '16 at 6:48
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    Do you need a release letter from your current employer before you can join the new one? (This is not a requirement in many countries) – Andrew Leach Oct 30 '16 at 8:01
  • "they have said they would give me about 60 days to join" Giant red flag. Are they referring to you buying out your notice period instead? I've seen that mentioned as a possibility in India before but in that case I'd expected the new company to shoulder that cost. – Lilienthal Oct 30 '16 at 11:10
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    @AndrewLeach it is in India, and unfortunately the system is regularly abused by scumbag companies. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/relieving-letter – Dan Neely Oct 30 '16 at 13:03
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If I get the offer letter, how should I go about negotiating the notice period?

This is a tricky situation, and you need to tread carefully here. You have a number of options:

  1. Negotiate the joining date with the new company: This is the safest option as very little can go wrong here. In my experience, most reputed Indian IT companies can — and do — wait an extra month for a suitable candidate. Every day the position remains unfilled costs the company. Withdrawing an accepted offer and trying to fill the position with other candidates usually results in the position remaining unfilled even longer.

  2. Ask the new company for notice period buyout: Read your current company's policy on notice period buyout1, wherein you can pay your current employer your so-called basic salary in lieu of serving the notice period. The new company then reimburses you this amount on joining. This is a common enough practice in the Indian IT industry. The flexibility offered here varies across companies.

  3. Negotiate the notice period with current company: This is the most risky option. For reasons mentioned later, you should resign before negotiating the notice period. In the worst case, this negotiation fails and the new company withdraws the offer. This leaves you in the unenviable situation of either getting another offer within the 90 days, or being out of job at the end of it, or withdrawing your resignation. Hence, you should continue your job search even as the notice period negotiation is in progress.

    Allowing an employee to serve a shorter notice period is typically left to the manager's discretion. Some managers could be strict and will make it difficult or impossible, so before you talk to the manager, it would be beneficial to talk to some former employees or other unofficial sources.

  4. Decline the job offer: This is the least desirable option. If the new company refuses to wait and you cannot take the risk of negotiating the notice period with the current manager, you will have to unfortunately wait for a more favourable job offer. You might consider yourself fortunate for dodging a bullet since a company so inflexible with a joining date would have likely caused you more problems after you joined.

Some final pieces of advice based on my experience in the Indian IT industry:

  • Do not start any negotiations (either on the new joining date or the current notice period) until you have an actual written offer letter with all the required terms and conditions mentioned.
  • If you choose to negotiate the notice period, always resign first and negotiate later. The notice period starts from the resignation date, not negotiation date, so you lose a few days if you resign after the negotiation. Even asking for notice period negotiation sends a signal that you were already looking for another job, which practically means you will have to resign soon anyway. Hence, there is no benefit to negotiating first and resigning later.
  • For future job searches, always check with the company if they are ok with your notice period before the interview.

Why are they delaying the offer letter? Is it possible due to the Diwali time?

We cannot tell for sure, but the Dusshera to Diwali period is usually a "slow" time in Indian IT companies, as a number of people take two or more weeks off to celebrate the festivals. Hence, in this case, it is very likely that the offer letter is getting delayed because one or more people responsible to release it are not in office, so you should wait until after the Diwali week for the offer letter.


1 Thanks to gnasher729 for pointing this out.

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    And while a "buy-out" may be possible, I don't think you could force the old employer to accept it. – gnasher729 Oct 30 '16 at 12:04
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    Very educational answer – Kilisi Oct 30 '16 at 13:26
  • @gnasher729 Good point, I have added a paragraph to address that. – Masked Man Oct 30 '16 at 14:14
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You have a contract (with your old employer). Your potential new employer intentionally and knowingly creates a situation that could force you to breach that contract. That is a big big read flag.

I'd go for interviews with more companies, and don't do anything that puts your position and reputation with your current employer into danger.

No reasonable company would expect you to inform your old employer before a legally binding contract is signed. Therefore no employer would expect you to be able to leave earlier than your notice period says. Therefore that new employer is not reasonable, which will cause you trouble.

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