So you've been going through the interview process, and finally, a prospective employer has uttered the four words every job seeker longs to hear: “When can you start?” If you’re ready to start immediately, that’s great! But what if they want you to start at a time that simply doesn’t work for you? As thrilled as you might be, you do need to make sure that you start a new job when you’re ready and prepared, taking into account any previous commitments you might have. This is when you might consider negotiating your start date with your new employer, to ensure that you find a time that works for all parties.
In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of negotiating your start date for your new job, including:
Is it OK to negotiate a start date?
How do you ask for a delayed start date?
Tips for negotiating your start date
Example and template for asking for a delayed start date
Why it’s important to negotiate a start date
A “start date” is the exact date that an employer expects you to start working for the company. Pretty simple, right? Companies set their start date based on several things, such as payroll obligations, training availability, or aligning with other new hires.
Some reasons you might want to negotiate a change in your start date include:
You need to relocate for the new job
Your current job has exit requirements, such as a two-week notice.
You need a salary. If you’re currently unemployed, you might want to get on the payroll sooner rather than later.
You have a major personal commitment. If you have a wedding, family vacation, or other prior obligation, you’ll probably want to negotiate a different start date (tickets to Coachella don’t count).
How do you negotiate a start date? 4 Key steps
Let’s face it, negotiating can be intimidating. But you can do it effectively with a little bit of planning and preparation, which will help make sure you’re not putting your offer at risk. Here are some steps you can take to effectively negotiate a mutually beneficial start date:
1. Always say “thank you”
Open your negotiation on a positive note. This shows a prospective employer that you are enthusiastic about accepting the position, which might help them be more flexible about the start date.
2. Be clear about the proposed start date
Ask for clarification about the start date. This might organically open up a discussion about whether another date might work better for you.
3. Ask for a specific start date and give your reasoning
Be armed with a specific date or date range that works for you, and have reasoning to back it up. If it’s a personal reason, you don’t have to give a lot of details — a simple ”I have a prior commitment” will suffice.
4. Determine what you can do in the meantime
To show that you’re serious about the position, you can inquire if there is anything you can do for them before your start date, such as online training or personnel forms.
Tips & tricks for negotiating your start date
It can be daunting to consider negotiating for a different start date — after all, you don’t want to risk having the job offer rescinded. But you also want to start a new job on the best terms possible, and that can be challenging if the proposed date throws your life into upheaval. So how do you ask for a delayed start date? Here are some things to consider when negotiating a start date for your job:
Be honest and specific
It’s fine to take a little time to think about it before answering. And make sure you have a good reason to negotiate. The employer might be willing to be more flexible if you have a solid reason for asking to adjust the start date.
Be positive and professional
Approach negotiating your start date with care. Don’t make a blanket statement that you can’t start when they’ve proposed; respectfully ask if it’s possible to negotiate. You won’t know until you ask (and don’t ask until you’ve received an offer). And make sure you express enthusiasm about the offer. They're more likely to negotiate if they believe you really want to work for them.
Don’t lock yourself into a specific date, even if you have specific needs. Be aware that negotiating your start date might mean that the employer has to delay your onboarding from anywhere from a week to a month, based on their payroll and training schedule. Even if the new start date is later than you'd hoped, it might be the best way to compromise in a way that works for all parties involved — you, your new employer, and your current employer.
Be early enough, but not too early
The important thing to remember is to not try to negotiate the start date before you have an actual offer — it might seem arrogant or presumptuous. That being said, you can choose a start date that aligns with your personal and professional needs, generally, around two to three weeks out, taking into account your current employer's policies and your personal commitments.
Example of how to ask for a delayed start date
So how do you put all of this into practice? If it’s via email, use the following template to craft a request to adjust your start date:
Dear [name of hiring manager]
Thank you so much for your job offer to be [name of position] at [ABC Company]. I'm so excited to begin working, but I need to request an adjustment to my starting date due to [reason].
I realize that this will hamper your proposed start date on [month, day, year]. After my prior commitment, I can start work on [month, day, year]. Please let me know if there is anything I can do before this date to lessen any inconvenience for you and [ABC Company].
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your full name]
When you’ve come to your agreed-upon start date, take time to prepare for your new job to make your transition as stress-free as possible. This will ensure you start off on the best foot possible.
A "start date" is the exact date that an employer expects you to start working for the company, and might be based on payroll obligations, training availability, or aligning with other new hires.
Reasons to negotiate a different start date include relocation needs, your current job’s exit requirements, or a personal commitment.
When requesting to change your start date, be specific, honest, professional, and most of all, flexible.