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Negotiating the Right Start Date at Your New Job


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans are considering their next career move. In addition to knowing what to expect at an accounting job interview, you should also be prepared to make a decision about your start date should you be offered (and accept) a new job.

Dec 8th 2021
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Four million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Multiple factors have contributed to employees resigning. For example, some job changers seek increased flexibility;some want to work for a company that cares more about their overall well-being and mental health. For others, overall burnout influenced their decision to changejobs.

If you are one of the four-million-plus Americans who changed jobs in 2021, getting a new job can be exciting as well as a bit scary. So, how do you ensure you feel ready to tackle a brand-newjob? The key is to negotiate the right start date.

Tips for Negotiating a Start Date

An employer may ask you during an interview for a proposed start date. But most start dates are determinedafter you accept the job offer. This allows you and your new employer to establish astart date that works best for both parties.

Consider Your Prior Commitments

When negotiating your start date, it’s important to consider any prior commitments that may necessitate speeding up or delaying your start date. These commitments might include the requirements of your current employer (two weeks’ notice), family vacations and other personal commitments, relocation requirements and your need for wages.

Be Honest

If an interviewer asks if there’s a start date that works best for you, be honest. Think of negotiating your start date just as you would any other terms of employment. When negotiating, there’s no need to go into specific details. Instead, frame your start date with specifics but leave it open for a conversation if needed. One example of how to frame your start date request is,“I’m excited to join your team. Starting on the 20th would be best if that works for you.”

Negotiating an Alternative Start Date

What should you do if a company asks you to start on the 20th and that doesn’t work for you? First off, thank them for the job offer and reiterate your excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunity. But, don’t agree to a start date that you know you won’t be able to commit to.

Instead, propose a start date that works best for you. For example, instead of saying,“I have a family cruise planned for that week,” say,“I’m excited to hit the ground running on my first day, but I have a prior commitment that week. Starting on the 27th would work great if that works for you.”

Be Flexible

As with all types of employment negotiations, be flexible. It is highly unlikely that an organization will pull their job offer if you cannot start on a specific date. If you have trouble aligning on a start date, is there a middle ground that works for both parties? Can you complete certain tasks or trainings prior to your start date? The key is to be open and honest and find a start date that works for both parties. You want to ensure you commit to a start date that will set you and the organization up for success. The last thing you want to do is change your start date last minute after agreeing upon a particular date. Negotiating your start date is about advocating for yourself. It can also help you set expectations with your new employer on what they can expect from you as a team member. If circumstances allow it, it’s always nice to take some time off between jobs. This allows you to decompress and get organized ahead of time for a smooth and stress-free transition.

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