Learn How to ask an Employer about a Job Start Date – Full Guide

The Prepared Resume: Learn how to ask an employer about a job start date - Full Guide

Do you want to how to ask an employer about a job start date? If yes, you are in the right place. The employment start date is obviously an essential component beginning a role in a new workplace. Many employers ask newly hired employees to mention their desired employment start date or it is provided directly to the employee in a job offer. It is an official process that ensures the company and candidate are aligned without any discrepancies.

Can employers delay a job start date?

The simple answer is: Yes, the employer can delay a job start date. Most employers likely will not change a job start date if they have committed to a specific start date in writing. Mutual agreement of a job start date is a term of a contract or job offer letter. But since many offers what is considered at-will employment, the employer can change elements in an offer letter upon their discretion. Most employers will be professional and collaborative and would request to delay the start date if you agree.

Employers who need to change an employees start date typically explain the circumstances so a candidate understands why a start date was changed. For instance, if an office re-open date was moved due to a temporary closure of a local office due to Covid-19, this would be a genuine reason. There are obviously other solid reasons an employer desires to delay a job start date such as financial distress in the business, an office move, etc… If you run into genuine reasons like this, I recommend you accept the delay to showcase your professionalism (assuming you still want the job and are in a position to accept it.)

On the other hand, there are good reasons to not accept a delayed start date and hold firm to the original date. For instance, if you have resigned from a previous job already (and based your new job's start date on your resignation) then you may not be in a spot to accept the delayed start date.

How to negotiate a start date with your employer

If an employer needs to change a job start date (and depending on what the company articulates to a candidate) negotiation is an excellent solution to this problem. Negotiation is a much better way to streamline the process to potentially find a solution that works for both employer and employee.

But you may be wondering how do you negotiate a job start date. This works when you have some flexibility in your start date but do not want to commit to the employers desired start date.

For example, suppose you agreed with your future employer you would start your job on September 1st and they moved the job start date to October 15th. If you have the financial ability, you could offer that you could start on September 20th at the latest but would not be able to agree to an October 15th start date. That way, the employer knows you are flexible and are attempting to find a solution that will work for both of you and that you are not issuing them an ultimatum of sorts.

Another example of when negotiating a job start date can work is when there is relocation involved. For instance, if you live in a different state, you will need some time to sell your house, prepare yourself for relocation, and find a new home near your new office location. In that case, you may ironically being the one asking the employer to delay the start date. That's a whole different path but the perspective remains the same regardless of whether the future employee or employer is the one that initiates the change in the job start date. Either way, here are a few tips for negotiating with your employer that you should always keep top of mind:

Be Grateful to your Employer

The first step is to show your gratitude to your employer for offering you a crucial role in their company and that you recognize that. It showcases your professionalism. And perhaps more importantly it lets the employer know that you are serious about the job and are not playing games with them.

Provide Specific Information

Avoid telling long winded stories to your employer. Always provide specific concise information about why you need an earlier or later start date for your job. When you tell your employer the genuine reason without getting into all the gory details, your changes of a successful negotiation actually increase.

Stay Flexible

Sometimes, the future employee ask their employers to delay the start date for two to three months. This is a risky move. If you make a change with this large of a timeline, remember the employer may refuse any negotiation and remove your application and look for another candidate. Therefore, whenever you are the one requesting a delayed start date ask for a reasonable delay. And even if the future employer agrees, do not assume there aren't any issues aso specifically ask if the employer has any complications with it. Doing this will often result in a win-win situation.

Offer Work from Home or to Work Remotely

If you have a genuine reason to move a job start date, such as relocating to another state or city, you always have the ability to keep the current date and request to begin the job while you temporarily work from home or work remotely. This obviously may not work if you are required to perform the job in person so this depends on your job designation. It's pretty difficult to operate machinery in a factory while working from home.

On the other hand, you can work from home if you are a software engineer, graphics designer, or accountant. Your employer should appreciate the offer and continue negotiations with you. You never know, it may work out to be a full time role that works remotely if you are willing.

State the Exact Start Date

I can't believe I have to actually say this but you would be amazed how often this gets missed. It is crucial to mention the exact job start date either in your application or or the employers job offer letter. This keeps you both on the same page so there is zero confusion. It's hard to argue about something that is clearly written down. Remember, even though it is written down, sync up with the employer to make sure you are ready to join the company on the same date!

What is the typical start date after employment?

Although the start date after employment varies from company to company, research shows that the typical two week rule applies to accepting an offer. Sometimes, it can take more than a month, depending on your employer, if you have to go through in depth training, or other factors. That is why it is so crucial to mutually agree on a start date.


Remember these factors when you find yourself negotiating a start date: be grateful to your future employer, communicate properly, remain flexible, and provide options that work for both yourself and the employer.

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