How to Negotiate a Start Date on a Job Offer

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Negotiating a start date on a job offer is usually one of the final agreements in the hiring process. The new employer may want you to start as soon as possible – say, two weeks. But you may need more time to attend to a variety of business and personal issues. It is important not to make a hasty decision. Agreeing to a start date and later asking for an extension could make you seem indecisive or even unsure about taking the position. Avoid that by accepting the position and asking the employer for a few days to think about when you should start.

An Existing Benefits Package

Are you presently employed? If so, read details of your current compensation and benefits packages to determine if you must remain on the job for a certain period to collect a bonus or retirement benefit. The new employer probably isn't going to wait months for you to start, but most employers will understand if you need to stay put for a couple extra weeks to earn a bonus or prevent a contract violation.

Talk to Your Current Employer

If you're currently employed, talk with your employer. Telling your boss about the new position could lead to a counteroffer and salary increase if you agree to stay. Even if your boss does not extend a counteroffer, meeting to discuss your new job helps you leave on good terms. It also gives you a chance to discuss how long your employer needs you to stay to finish current projects.

What about Vacation Plans?

If necessary, talk with a spouse or others about how the new job will impact vacation plans. Use the feedback and your own deliberations to decide if you should schedule a vacation between positions instead of waiting to accumulate vacation days on the new job. Florida State University reports you should negotiate from a position of strength. The employer offered you the job and obviously wants you in the position. Because of that, you should feel comfortable talking about needing time to take a quick vacation between jobs or spending some time on other issues.

Your New Employer's Time Frame

Call the prospective new boss to negotiate your start date. Tell the employer how anxious you are to move into the new role. Then ask when the new employer would like you to begin. Having the employer put a suggested date on the table gives you something to react to.

Be Cleverly Willing to Comply

Push back politely, if the employer wants you to start in two weeks but you'd like to start in say, 30 days. Tell the employer that for a variety of reasons, you were hoping to start in six weeks, but that you are willing to move up the start date. Offer to start in a month – which was your original plan. The key is to get the new employer to put a start date on the table first, allowing you to compromise by saying you're willing to accept an earlier start date than you were considering.

Always Seek the Compromise

Suggest alternatives if the employer says you must start in two weeks and you really do need more time. Offer to start in two weeks as the employer is requesting – with flexibility to take a week off with pay after a month to return home to tie up personal issues related to moving. That compromise won't give you more time to finish projects on your current job or to take a vacation, but it can help in other ways. Another compromise offer may be to start reading emails and participating in some conference calls, if possible, before your formal start date on your new job. Offer this in exchange for a desired start date. This allows you to begin preparing for your new role even before you start the position.

References

About the Author

Robert Lee has been an entrepreneur and writer with a background in starting small businesses since 1974. He has written for various websites and for several daily and community newspapers on a wide variety of topics, including business, the Internet economy and more. He studied English in college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Governor's State University.