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I have recently found myself on the receiving end of a job offer from a small business. I have never worked for an organization with fewer than a thousand active employees, so the relative informality of this process has me a little bit off-balance. I want to give my two week notice as soon as possible at my current employer, but only if everything is 100% squared away with my new employer. Is there anything specific I should have in-hand before I do this? Currently all I have is a "Job Offer" document, naming the employer and position, which states the pay and benefits. I have signed and returned this document, but do not know if there is some sort of formal response to this I should receive and keep on record. Could anyone shed light on this process? Is a "Job Offer" like this legally binding? Or should I be asking the employer for additional materials confirming my employment?

Thank you, in advance, for your insight!

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    Where in the world are you? Employment law is not a global thing, you may want to get anything between a contract written in blood and a handshake. State your locality. – nvoigt Nov 10 '16 at 7:50
  • MY apologies, I realize I failed to specify. I am based in the US, and the question has been updated accordingly. – ConnorCMcKee Nov 10 '16 at 13:41
  • Do you live in an at-will state? If so, what do you gain by a "legally binding" job offer, if they can legally fire you the day after you started? – nvoigt Nov 11 '16 at 5:08
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You need in writing:

  1. a start date - you can't show up at somebody's office just like that - uninvited, right?

  2. a time you are expected to show up

  3. the address you are supposed to show up at

  4. who is supposed to receive you - it's the author of the email addressed to you by default.

  5. ask them if there are any legal documents such as passport that they want to see from you.

Non-US locales may have additional requirements but the requirements that I have listed above are the absolute minimum requirements. Note that the requirements for your first day at the work site are very much the same as those of an office appointment. Except that in the case of an office appointment, you don't have to show proof of legal eligibility for employment - You most likely will have to show ID.

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    Of course, it can be rescinded. Rescinded before you give your two-weeks' notice if you're lucky. Rescinded just after you give your two-weeks' notice if you are not. Rescinded after your first day of work, too. At least, in the last case, you are clearly entitled to unemployment benefits. I have no idea what happens to your unemployment benefits if your offer is rescinded just after you give your two-weeks' notice but before your start date. Wait until the last second before you give your two-weeks – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 4:41
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    @nvoigt - Why is it my responsibility to make sure that the OP's country is the US and not the OP's? – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 8:11
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    @nvoigt - I can say that it's the responsibility of the OP because it is their question. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 14:33
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    nvoigt - Downvote me any time you want. Like right now. I am putting a certain amount of care in my answers, so the word "lucky" has little to do with what I do. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 14:42
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    @nvoigt - I reviewed my answer and I've decided that it's applicable the world over. You have to be a special kind of guy to accept a job offer that doesn't have a start date, a start time, a location, a receiving committee. I have no idea what's going on in your head that this requirement applies only to US locales. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 23:33
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Irrespective of your actual question, be careful. If they contacted you, and you are working remotely, have you ever met anybody? Do you know the company actually exists?

There are plenty of scams involving hiring someone via the internet, then they do some work, receive a check that is for some reason filled out incorrectly so they are overpaid, and then they are asked to send the extra money back, and then that money is gone, the check bounces, and the company disappears.

So in your situation, you need a signed contract, and the certain knowledge that the company is genuine, before you give notice.

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    Thank you for this answer; I appreciate your looking into the root of my concern, and not just the question as it is asked. I have verified company's existence in their home state's Treasury Department. Their registration, age, and online footprint (web pages and social media presence) accurately reflect the age and area of the company as presented by my interviewers (I've spoken with multiple, and will be meeting one in person before the start date). I initiated contact with the employer from an online job board posting. – ConnorCMcKee Nov 10 '16 at 13:39
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The offer letter is just a start. I hope you kept a copy.

Since this is remote, I'd want some documents establishing legitimacy of the business. A business license. Articles of incorporation. Dun and Bradstreet number, for a business credit report. Certified (by a CPA) financial statement. Something you can verify independently with a government body or official. And better yet, the opportunity to meet someone face to face at their offices before you accept the offer. Not Skype.

This is your livelihood at stake, and scams come a dime-a-dozen. So as uncomfortable as it may be to ask, consider the potential outcomes if you don't.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Yes, I have kept copies of the offer. I have verified company's existence in their home state's Treasury Department. Their registration, age, and online footprint (web pages and social media presence) accurately reflect the age and area of the company as presented by my interviewers (I've spoken with multiple, and will be meeting one in person before the start date). I feel like these factors are enough to convince me of the authenticity of the employer, I just have no means of knowing their treatment of their employees. – ConnorCMcKee Nov 10 '16 at 13:36
  • Try Glassdoor. YMMV – Xavier J Nov 10 '16 at 13:38
  • The minute they ask for money, you know it's a scam. After all, the whole point of a scam is to ask for and get money. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 10 '16 at 16:19
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    @VietnhiPhuvan: not saying this is a scam, doesn't seem like it, but scams don't have to ask for money, frequently they offer to pay you. Remote work implies direct deposit, which is the same info needed to take money from your account. – jmoreno Nov 13 '16 at 1:17
  • @jmoreno - Good point. Let me rephrase what I wrote: "the whole point of a scam is either to ask for and get money from the target, or to get the target to disclose personal info that will enable the scammer to take money from the target. Never disclose your personal, financial info like your checking account ID and your routing number before your first day of work. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 13 '16 at 1:43
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Legally binding is a legal question and off-topic. And probably not what you really want anyway. You probably don't want to resign to take a legally binding offer that is then withdrawn or terminated, and then sue for damages.

What you probably want to know is there more to do before you can reasonably consider it a done deal. Employment consists of two things, services to be performed and remuneration, once these have been agreed to by both parties, you can reasonably consider yourself hired.

The exact manner in which that agreement is established will vary by jurisdiction and possibly position. For a small US company (under 50 employees) a verbal "I can/you start next Monday" is enough. You'll still have to fill out any goverment mandated paperwork (I9, W4), but you've been hired. Filling out the government mandated paperwork can happen on or before your start date.

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