Landing up with a new job is one of the most exciting things that can happen to you. You are excited about your new position, meeting new people, handling new tasks and responsibilities. And not to mention enjoying some of the perks and better pay package that comes with your new job. Once the interviews and Q and As are done, and you get the offer letter, you feel excited about the new beginning.
Once your new prospective employer has asked you all that’s needed to know and has more or less confirmed that you are going to be hired, they will ask you one question, which you should be ready to answer without delays – “When can you start?“
If your employer badly needs an employee for a particular position, they would want you to join as soon as possible. They will also probably give you a joining date. If you are okay with that date, then all goes well. However, there are several reasons why, despite all your excitement about the new position, you would want to defer and join at a slightly later date. In that case, here is all you need to know to negotiate a start date with your new employer without losing your job for it.
What is a Start Date?
The start date is the date of joining your new workplace. Your employer will expect you to be there at a particular time.
In some cases, the employer will just give you a start date and expect you to be there. This mostly happens when they are in a hurry to fill in the position, and they want the candidate to start as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable with the date, you can negotiate the start date.
In other cases, they may ask you the question, “How soon can you start”? You can tell them a convenient starting date, especially if you have a notice period to serve at your previous job. Most employers will make allowances for this reason.
How Can You Negotiate Your Start Date With Your New Employer?
As soon as your employer asks you when you can join, it would be best if you do the following. You may take these as general guidelines for any kind of query that your prospective employer may seek from you. And this is not just about the employer’s query but will be helpful in your workplace as well.
If you already have a clear idea about your circumstances and you already have a date in mind, then politely tell your new employer about it. You can say something like, “Well, I have to give a two weeks’ notice to my previous company. So if it is okay with you, then I can join on the ____”, and you give your employer a date.
Remember, the more confident and specific you are, the better the chances of your employer granting you the date.
Do not Fumble
Whatever you do, do not fumble when you are asked about when you can join. This will come across as you being indecisive. So be ready with your answer because, like most other standard interview questions, this question will come your way as well when you reach the last leg of your interview.
This will also prevent any confusion later, and once your employer knows when you are starting, the chances are that the date will be blocked. They would not look for new hires anymore, depending on the scope of the organization, of course.
Avoid Personal Reasons
Unless there is something too serious going on in your life, like a family member is hospitalized or you have an examination for certification around the same time, try to keep away from citing personal reasons while negotiating your starting day.
While it is important to enjoy some downtime, you can cite such instances later, after you have settled down in your job. Some employers may not consider them as legitimate reasons for delaying a start day, especially since they do not know you well at this point.
Proper Responses While Negotiating A Start Date
When your employer asks you when you can start, here are some of the proper responses that you should try to come up with.
1. Thank Them for the Offer
In most cases, your new employer will only ask you when you can start when they are about 80% sure they will hire you. So when they ask you this question, you can politely thank them for considering you for the position. That is an excellent way to show your acknowledgment and pave the way for the negotiation. Gratitude never fails anyone.
2. Ask to Reconsider
If your new employer has already asked you when you can start and has not suggested a date outright, then you can go ahead and state your desired date. On the other hand, if your employer has already stated the date, then this is the time when you politely ask them to reconsider.
3. State Your Date
Once your employer tells you to go ahead and state your desired date, do so with confidence. This will give the message that you have already thought about it and would not have suggested the particular date without good reason.
4. State Your Reasons
Once you have stated your new start date, state your reason for doing so. Be it your previous commitments at your old job or personal obligations, state the facts without going into extra details. This will also send the message that you are not somebody who leaves others to pick up things after them.
For example, stating that you have to delegate your responsibilities and ensure a smooth handover to the person joining in your position at the previous organization goes on to show that you are a responsible employee. As excited as you are about your new job, you have not stopped thinking about what’s better for your old organization, which has taught you so much.
5. Ask to Complete Other Tasks
The onboarding process in any company usually takes some time. So even if you are not immediately ready to start, you can consistently offer to complete other aspects of the onboarding process. Ask your employer about any documents you need to submit or go through any paperwork in the meantime. This will again assert that you are eager to join the new organization. The later date is not because you are unmotivated, but because you have a good reason.
Possible Scenarios of Start Dates
You will soon be quitting your previous employer and taking up the new offer. When you get your new job offer, your new employer will likely ask you if you have a notice period in your current organization. Any organization realizes a notice period of about 15 days to a month. Once you tell them that, they will be happy to accommodate that time and give you a start date after that.
The following possible scenario is that your new employer desperately needs help and tells you at the very onset that you will only get the job if you are willing to join immediately. In cases like these, you have to negotiate with care and get a start date that works for you as well as for your employer.
6 Reasons to Delay Your Start Date
Here are some possible scenarios that might want you to start at a later date.
While you have just got your new job, it might be taking you to a new city. You need to make travel arrangements, look for accommodations in the new city, and take care of the other important things prior to winding up your previous job and domestic responsibilities in your earlier location to finally make that move. And that’s one of the primary reasons why many new employees who have to shift to another city want to start at a later date.
Clearing Your Compensation
You might want to clear all your compensation and pay package-related issues at your previous workplace before you leave the organization for good. While many companies are good enough to settle all the wages and benefits even after an employee has quit, some organizations have some unethical practices. It could be one of the reasons why the employee decided to move to a new organization in the first place. Hence, clearing all the dues before leaving the company might be in your best interest.
Any job is stressful to an extent, and shifting to a new company and coping with new responsibilities brings its own sets of challenges. It is not out of the ordinary to seek some me-time and get your head around things. Your personal commitments could be a reason why you want to start at a later date.
Your body needs to rejuvenate as well. By the time you are ready to take on your new responsibilities in your new organization, you are physically and mentally entirely prepared for it. One of the best ways of doing that is to take a vacation, and a considerate employer would surely understand that. They might even insist on it.
Completing a Course
If you are in the middle of pursuing a professional course, then you may have to wait till you have cleared the final exams that make you eligible for the certificate and diploma. You need to concentrate on your studies at this point, and a considerate employer will surely understand that.
They are also aware that once you complete the course, you will add more value to the team as you will pick up new skills during your learning period. This is a perfectly good reason to negotiate your starting date. Make sure you mention to your employers how many more days or weeks it will take to finish the course and when you can join once it is over.
Going for Therapy
Some workplaces can be toxic, and one of the reasons why people choose to take up another job. If you found your previous workplace very toxic, then it is obvious that you would want to recover and be in a clean state of mind before you take up your new job.
Going for therapy is one of the best ways of doing it, and you can tell your new employer about it. Any considerate employer would understand that and would be willing to defer your starting if you expressed to join after completing your therapy.
If you have any health problems that need to be taken care of before joining your new job, you must tell your employer about them. Being sick while joining a new job is not going to make you as productive as you had hoped.
Health problems would slow you down, and you would feel the stress and anxiety more than you can expect. Instead of plodding through your new job, ask your employer for a few days extra time so that you can recuperate and join the organization with renewed vigor.
Your good health will be in the interest of the company as a sick employee can be a liability for any organization. Your boss might request you to submit some medical documents, but they will cave in to negotiate and defer the date.
If all goes well, your employer will be convinced and give you the start date of your choice. On the other hand, it is your responsibility not to return to your word. For example, do not state one date, call back later, and ask the date to be shifted back another ten days. Take a few days extra if you have to, but make sure that the date you suggest is final and that you have all intention of joining on that date. Not showing up on that day would reflect poorly on your work ethic. Nor should you ask the date to be shifted further back very close to your date of joining. In such cases, you have to understand that the employer might shift back your join date a week or even a month later if they have specific periods of hiring new employees due to company policies. Professionalism is the keyword, and keeping that in mind will help you get your desired start date.