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I had a final interview yesterday in which the perspective employer called me shortly after to let me know I blew away the competition and got the job. They sent me 10 documents in an email and not one of those documents included a salary, employment type, etc.- the actual meat of a job offer. After inquiring into it, it seems that they want me to submit to a background check, drug test, etc. without even knowing what I'm being offered.

I feel that while I will pass all of that, it would be a huge waste of my time if the compensation is not what was hinted at in our interview nor what I would accept. I've never experienced this process before- usually I get an offer and, should I accept, then the rest of the docs and checks follow. Once passed, the offer is firm and employment begins. Do my previous experiences contradict what is normal? This seems sketchy.

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    This is REALLY sketchy. You should have received a job offer with these details in them and the phrase "contingent on passing pre-employment background and reference checks" in it. This doesn't smell right. – Wesley Long Apr 14 '17 at 23:13
  • Is the contract its self not a "written " offer it does seem odd that a "contract" does not mention the salary hours of work etc – Neuromancer Apr 15 '17 at 14:05
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Many things in life are a negotiation and this is one of them.

  1. If you need the job desperately, fill out the paperwork and wait for the offer.
  2. If you are not desperate, I suggest the following

Ask for an offer letter. Tell them politely that you were wondering if they had made a decision yet as to whether or not they were going to extend you an offer for a position.

If they did not describe the position, as for the description of the position they offer to you. Even if they described this in the solicitation for the offer, ask for a clarification regarding the responsibilities, a list of direct reports (subordinates), and who would be your supervisor.

Ask for the salary, compensation (bonuses), and full description of benefits (e.g. heathcare, vacation and PTO days, holidays, pension / 401k). If there was a signing bonus, make sure this is in writing in the offer letter. Ask for the number of vacation days you will have when you start.

Ask for the expected start date or be prepared to supply a start date.

Ask for a decision date: when do they need to know your decision.

Consider their delivery of an employment contract / NDA / non-compete / request for drug test to be part of your decision process. Use that information to help you decide if you want to be their employee. Maybe their 'ask' is too onerous?

If they balk, ask what they need from you in order for them to provide an offer letter. It is fair for them to ask for references, background check, and perhaps even a drug test before making an offer. It is also fair for you to push back and tell them that they can provide you an offer letter than is contingent upon you meeting the terms of employment (e.g. they can give you an offer that is only good if you sign within xx days, pass a background check, pass a drug screening, ...).

I do not believe it is fair for a professional, salaried employee to be required to submit an employment contract to get an offer letter. You should not need to commit until they have completely described their offer to you.

The only exceptions I can think of are related to the government, military, and classified work.

  • Good answer, but even with governmental classified work, an offer letter is extended prior to signing paperwork and the offer is normally contingent up on the ability to obtain a clearance. – Pete B. Apr 17 '17 at 15:40
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This is unusual, you should contact them for clarification. It may be something as simple as the job offer was not sent by mistake.

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