I have a job offer — but it’s been weeks and there’s no start date in sight

A reader writes:

After months of searching, I accepted a contract with a great company. Shortly after accepting, a third-party recruiter reached out about a contract closer to home, with a better salary. I told her I had been hired elsewhere, but she encouraged me to interview regardless. I went through multiple rounds, fell in love with the position (with a major financial institution), and was offered it the day before I was supposed to start job #1.

It was difficult to rescind my acceptance and burn that bridge, but I was confident I was doing the right thing.

The start date was communicated as “ASAP.” I expected to start the following week, but was told I had to wait on the background check. Once that was done, there was another mystery delay. And after that, the recruiter told me the truth: they’re trying to hire multiple people at once, and want everyone to be trained at the same time. This is no cookie-cutter call centre position, by the way; it’s a fairly senior role.

The latest update: one person they wanted just turned it down, so they’re starting over again. This could take months.

I’m getting progressively pissed off each day. I turned down not just a full-time role, but thousands of dollars in freelance work because I was made to believe I needed to be available. The recruiter provides empty apologies and has told me “I think they want you to start next week” three weeks in a row. In the meantime, I’m sitting here with no income.

I’m angry at the company, but I also suspect the recruiter is enabling this idiocy by telling them everything’s fine and that I’m happy to wait.

How do I force her to be honest with her client about how bad this is? Do I lay it on the line and tell her that due to the company’s disinterest in onboarding me, I’ve resumed my job search (which I have)?

I can’t afford to be kept on ice indefinitely. But I also can’t afford to have my only current option rescinded.

Wow, yes, they’ve behaved really badly here — or at least the recruiter has. It’s hard to know what the company knows since, as you note, we don’t know what she’s told them.

I would be very, very direct with the recruiter. Since you want to stay on reasonably good terms, present what you’re feeling as “alarm” rather than anger, even though anger is warranted here. Say something like this: “I’m really alarmed by these delays. I want to lay out where I’m coming from — I turned down an excellent offer with another company to accept this one, and I’ve turned down thousands of dollars in freelance work since I was told I needed to be available immediately. If I’m not going to start right away, I’m going to need to start talking with other employers again. I understand that they want to train everyone at the same time, but I wouldn’t have turned down all that other work if I’d known this would take months. I need to set a start date for very soon — is there a way to make that happen?”

If you get an answer other than a credible-sounding yes, ask her this: “Do they know that I’ve been turning down other work while waiting for them? If not, can you explain that to them — or can I talk with them directly to work this out?”

I know you feel like you can’t afford to have the offer rescinded and you’re probably worried that could happen if you push too hard — but as things stand right now, with no start date and weeks of delays in setting one, this isn’t much of an offer. The longer this goes on, the more tenuous it becomes. So it’s worth having a very direct conversation and explaining what you need.

Meanwhile, keep actively looking because there’s no telling how this will play out or how long it will take.

{ 197 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. ThursdaysGeek

    I wonder if the person who just turned down the job has been waiting even longer to start, and finally found a different job.

    Reply
    1. LadyKelvin

      I had the exact same thought. I wonder if/how much the company knows about what the recruiter is telling the new hires.

      Reply
      1. Hills to Die on

        It’s almost better if they don’t have the whole story, otherwise they are idiots and assholes instead of just idiots.

        Reply
        1. Candi

          They’d better start smelling something is rotten in the state of Denmark sooner rather than later, or they go from idiots to total lack of functioning grey cells. This situation is a few sandwiches short as it is.

          Reply
    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      And OP will likely be next, which will restart their idiot cycle of “we are back to square one with one of our positions and we cannot proceed until they are all ready to start”.

      Reply
  2. Namast'ay in Bed

    Oh wow that sucks so bad, I’m sorry. The weird thing to me is that the recruiter is ok with delaying your start date, and therefore (presumably) delaying their own payment for your placement. It’s been my experience that recruiters will do almost anything to get you to start a new job sooner rather than later.

    Reply
    1. A Person.

      It just makes me wonder if the recruiter was premature with delivering the offer because the OP was starting a new job somewhere else the next day, and if that had happened, there would have been no payment for the recruiter for that placement.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        This sounds very possible, if not probable. I’m in a similar situation to LW right now, and I suspect that a big part of the issue is that I received an offer from a competitor and told them that I needed to give them a decision that day. They made me a hard offer that day, and I now suspect that they just didn’t want me to take the other job but didn’t have everything squared away on their end.

        Reply
        1. Trainer Girl

          I believe it. When I was laid off last year, I had 2 interviews on the same day. One company made me an offer a few days later, but I really wanted the other job, so I contacted the recruiter and they told me that I was getting an offer from the preferred company. It took a few more days for the firm offer to come through, and I was stressing. But I’m sure that the recruiter knew the company was interested and didn’t want me to take that other job. Lucky for me it all worked out.

          Reply
  3. Work Wardrobe

    And if this is how the company operates around their on-boarding activities, there will likely be other issues.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Although I’m still worried this is more of a redflag between OP and the *recruiter* – I feel like the company is barely involved here. It makes me anxious for OP that they’re getting everything second-hand. I don’t know much about recruiters (they’re not common in my field) – is it a terrible faux pas to go around around the recruiter and make these statements to the COMPANY?

      Reply
      1. Malibu Stacey

        “is it a terrible faux pas to go around around the recruiter and make these statements to the COMPANY?”

        Yes. The company went with an external recruiter for a reason and the recruiter is expecting payment from the company for doing this legwork. (Of course, the recruiter may not be doing a very good job.)

        Reply
          1. Green Goose

            Yeah, I’m confused too. At this point OP should talk directly with her new manager. It seems weird that she is still going through the recruiter.

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            1. AnotherHRPro

              This was my thought as well. Once an offer is made, the OP should be in regular contact with the hiring manager.

              Reply
            2. SignalLost

              This is on par with my experience too. Once hired, the recruiter drops out of the picture on the employee side.

              Reply
              1. DKap

                I agree. I was going to say the same. Once I have an accepted offer, I would never go through the recruiter. And quite frankly, after the interview, I would presume the OP has the direct contact info for the hiring manager (assuming the OP sent a thank you note) so I’d go straight to the source at this point. OP can CC the recruiter, but enough is enough. Finally, the recruiter doesn’t get paid unless the OP actually takes the job, so I’m not sure why the recruiter wouldn’t be up front with both sides on this matter.

                Reply
        1. Lil Fidget

          And a situation like this isn’t the exception, hmm? That stinks. Because I can see two equally likely scenarios, where either the recruiter themselves or the company isn’t acting in good faith – and one is a bigger issue for OP than the other.

          Reply
        2. Antilles

          In my (limited) experience, usually once you’ve interviewed with the company, you actually get their contact information during your interview when you exchange business cards. While you wouldn’t necessarily want to completely circumvent the recruiter, it’s not really frowned upon for a simple question or two – and in a case like this where the recruiter is messing you around, it seems perfectly legit to go straight to them and ask for more information on the situation.

          Reply
        3. Sunshine on a cloudy day

          Yeaaahhhh… I’ve worked with recruiters for almost role I’ve had. I would never normally recommend going around a recruiter and reaching out to a company directly, but this is a pretty extreme situation.

          I would try using Alison’s script(s) above to the recruiter one last time. If nothing changes then I would absolutely reach out to the company directly. At that point there are two options:

          1.) The company is completely aware of what’s going on and is stringing along the OP. The OP deserves to know that this is the case and decide whether this is a bright enough red flag to move on (it would be for me – but that’s for the OP to decide)

          2.) The recruiter is not telling the company the full story or there is something weird/shady going on. In that case the company deserves to know. The company might be able to request a different recruiter to work on their account (from the recruiting firm) or they can at least let the OP know what the actual deal is.

          For what it’s worth, in my experience, I’ve been in touch directly with the company as soon as the offer has been made (sometimes the company themself has been the one to extend the formal offer), so this whole situation sounds pretty shady to me. I know I’ve gotten my start date directly from the company in my last two roles.

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          1. Anony

            The only reason I can think of to still be going through the recruiter is if there has not been an actual official job offer. If that is the case then the OP needs to know that because it doesn’t sound like that is what the recruiter has communicated.

            Reply
            1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

              Exactly – that was my thought too! That’s what I’m mostly worried about for the OP – that the recruiter thought an offer was imminent so they told the OP that there was an official offer and that she would need to be available ASAP just so that she’d pass on the other opportunity. Now the recruiter is just trying to string the OP along until an official offer is actually made or until they can dig themself out of the mess they’ve made if no offer is coming.

              That’s why I do think it’s time the OP reaches out directly to the company. They need to know for sure what is going on.

              Reply
              1. calonkat

                Agreed, this is what occurred to me. There’s no real job offer, because the recruiter would have been done at that point and the OP would have been dealing with the company for starting, training, etc.

                Reply
            2. Julia the Survivor

              If it turns out to be that, I hope OP can post a review of the recruiter, or something else to let everyone know the recruiter does this.

              Reply
          2. Recruit-o-rama

            I don’t do contingency recruiting anymore, but when I did, once the interview has happened, it’s not “going around” the recruiter to call the company. A good recruiter encourages the relationship. If the OP is hired, the commission has already been earned, not matter how many times the candidate and the company speak during the process.

            My advice to the OP is to call the person or people she interviewed with.

            Reply
            1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

              Yeah – also – I’m pretty sure that recruiting companies typically have something in their contract about owing them a fee on any candidate that they’ve brought in for an interview if the candidate is hired at the company within a certain timeframe (no matter how they end actually being hired).

              Otherwise companies could just ask a candidate to go apply via their job portal *after interviewing them* and then claim “oh well, we found them through our portal. Seeeee”.

              I briefly worked in real estate and we had every prospective client sign a form saying that we’d be owed the broker’s fee if they ended up taking any of the aprtments on the list of showings we were arranging – so that they couldn’t just look up the building management company after seeing the apartment and going straight through them rather than through us to avoid the broker’s fee. This seems pretty similar.

              Reply
            2. ZuZu's Petals

              It’s a contract position, so my guess is that the “employer” is technically going to be the agency the recruiter works for (they will handle payroll, etc.) Usually in that case the recruiter does handle everything to do with onboarding, and you shouldn’t go around them (that’s why the company hired the agency) but this is obviously getting ridiculous. OP, I would recommend letting your recruiter know that you need a set start date or you’re going to resume your search, and let them know at this point you’d like to try and communicate directly with the onsite hiring manager. A good recruiter should help facilitate, because as others have said, they start getting money once you start working!

              Reply
          3. Triple Anon

            I would reach out to the company. I think this falls under, “exceptional circumstances.” It’s a situation that requires you to sort out the potential miscommunication that’s going on. But it would be fair to acknowledge that it’s unusual. “Hi John. Normally I wouldn’t reach out to you directly while still working with Fergus, but I’d like to confirm the start date for this position. Has a date been set? If not, should I consider this an official offer or more of a tentative one?”

            Reply
  4. Hills to Die on

    Ooh, I’d be mad too. Can you go back to the second company and see if you still have options there?

    I’d be ready to tell that recruiter that I start by (date) or not at all. In reality, I’d probably g with Alison’s language and job search aggressively. Your recruiter beats blame at a minimum, and the company needs to stop being silly. Red flag, red flag.

    Reply
        1. Sparkly Librarian

          Whereas I was scrolling down and all I saw was a comment that said “bears”. So it wasn’t until I’d read Hills’s first comment that it all made sense.

          BEARS!

          Reply
          1. Rachel Paterson

            Yes, I was wondering if I’d missed some site-specific terminology, like “Bees” on Captain Awkward! :D

            Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Oh, I would not do that. By rescinding the position the day before starting, LW well and truly burned that bridge. If I had someone do that to me and then they came back weeks later and said “j/k I’m still interested”, I would probably tell everyone I knew about the gall of this giant flake. And depending on the nature of her industry/town/etc, that could get her blacklisted a lot of places.

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        Yeah, unfortunately, I agree. I don’t think it’s a good idea for OP to reach out to the first company.

        Reply
        1. Magenta Sky

          That could easily end up being another letter to AAM.

          “We made a job offer to this highly qualified candidate, and he accepted, but the day before he was supposed to start, he backed out. Should I hire ninja assassins to hunt him down have give him a nuclear wedgie, or is that going too far?”

          Reply
      2. AnotherAlison

        We had someone call the day they were starting and not start. I recently found out the reason they gave was a lie, and I was telling the story to my spouse. I said that the candidate would be on my no hire list forever, and my husband thought I was nuts. He’s all, “People have their reasons, if he would still be a good employee, I would not let this change my mind.” So, I guess you never know if the bridge was burned or just a little scorched.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          I’m guessing your husband has never done hiring.

          Or he’s just a way nicer person than I am :)

          Reply
          1. AnotherAlison

            He owns a small business, so he has. He’s dealt with a lot of entry level unskilled hiring and people who have burned him badly, so I guess not showing up seems mild by comparison. And he is nice. I’m not.

            Reply
        2. Faith

          That’s so interesting to me. We recently interviewed a candidate who passed the phone screen with flying colors. Then he cancelled his in-person interview the day before it was scheduled to take place for a minor medical emergency. We said, no big deal – we’ll reschedule. Then he cancelled again 15 minutes before the interview was supposed to start, supposedly for a family emergency. Again, we said – poor guy can’t catch a break, we’ll reschedule. However, then he just disappeared. Literally, fell off the face of the earth without giving as much as a follow-up call or an email to us or his recruiter. We wrote him off and moved on. A few months later we had a similar opening for a different position with the same team. And guess who has applied – our disappearing act. He didn’t even bother to acknowledge the fact that he had interviewed with us before and what had transpired. Like, in his mind, this was not even “a thing” that needed to be addressed.

          Reply
          1. Melissa

            I work for a Fed agency office, and we have repeat applicants for a lot of our job postings. They become familiar and I can guarantee you that if there is someone with a red-flag such as your candidate, we will make that supervisor aware.

            Reply
          2. Artemesia

            My experience in hiring is that people who have several bits of bad luck that cause them to miss meetings or interviews invariably end up being flakes when hired. I’d still give them a pass on one emergency but by the second, I would be definitely putting ‘check reliability’ on the reference check question list.

            Yeah stuff happens, but it does seem that some people flake out easily and repeatedly.

            Reply
            1. Magenta Sky

              Some people go through life running from one crisis to the next, with never a moment’s rest in between.

              This is usually the direct result of choices most people would know better than to make.

              Reply
            2. Alternative Person

              I might give them a pass on a second because I find my bad luck piles up.

              I had exams papers mysteriously fall into the ether and my computer break down within a week of each other recently. (Both are now seemingly resolved, but not before I was nearly sick with stress).

              Reply
            3. Julia the Survivor

              I worked my up from a bad start with ignorant people. I’ve known criminals, street people, unemployable people, and people who are so flaky they can’t hold a job. (I currently know one of those).
              People in these stressful lifestyles live in ways that bring on crises. They often don’t have or know about basic coping skills like making a phone call to confirm something important, or getting ready for work early enough to be on time, or choosing who they get involved with as opposed to allowing anyone who wants to be in their lives – as examples of how they live. They were often raised by people who do the same, and really don’t see/aren’t aware that if they changed their lifestyle and choices their lives would be easier and more stable.
              So I agree that a pattern of constant crises almost always indicates unreliability.

              Reply
        3. Jadelyn

          I had one show up for orientation at my branch, then depart for the branch she’d actually be working at (about 15 minutes away)…and never show up at the other branch. She emailed a few hours later to let us know she’d decided the pay wasn’t high enough. Which…I mean…she had an offer with a pay rate included, so I feel like she should’ve perhaps considered this BEFORE STARTING HER NEW JOB.

          Reply
        4. NoSympathySusan

          That’s ridiculous! I will no long “unburn” bridges candidates totally wreck.

          My company offered a job to an exceptional candidate. We were all so excited for her to start. She accepted and we agreed upon a start date. She never showed up. We tried contacting her for a week or two after…trying to find out what was up, if she misunderstood the start date. Nothing.

          After about 3 weeks she reaches out with a sob story about how she was mugged 4 and a half weeks prior while on a business trip with the company she was “leaving”. They took such good care of her worker’s comp claim that she didn’t have the heart to put her notice in at the time. Now that most of that had been settled, she reached out to see if we were still interested in her starting.

          No we were not.

          Months later a position opened up in a different department. I debated for a week or so because in my mind she had burnt that bridge….but she really was a great candidate and had completely aced her way through the interview process for the previous position, completely wowing our execs. So I went against my better judgment and scheduled an interview between her and this other department’s hiring managers, talking her up. The hiring managers were completely wowed by her resume and my notes from the phone screen. I briefly mentioned her sob story, because I knew they’d hear about it from the other department eventually. They were still totally wanting to bring her in, too impressive to pass up.

          She no showed her interview then called 2 hours after it was supposed to begin claiming car trouble. She asked if she could reschedule.

          I told her no and that we would no longer consider her for any future positions.

          She still continues to apply for them and just this week sent me a lengthy email about why she should be given another chance.

          I am never taking anyone off my “No Hire Ever” list again. She humiliated me.

          Reply
      3. Hills to Die on

        Oops—I misread! I thought it was on the level and that she rescinded at the end of the interview process.

        Reply
      4. Ellen Fremedon

        It sounds like the LW was offered the second job the day before her original start date at the first one, not that they rescinded the acceptance the day before their start date at the second.

        Reply
      5. ArtK

        The OP declined the offer for the 2nd company, the day before she was due to start with the *1st* company. Not as serious a bridge burned with 2nd company. It’s the 1st company that is jerking her around.

        Reply
        1. Melissa

          She accepted the job from the 1st company. Interviewed with the second company after she accepted. Was “offered” the job from the second company, and since that position was her preference, she rescinded her guaranteed job from the 1st company and is now being jerked around by company 2.

          Reply
        2. Anony

          No she declined the offer from the 1st company the day before she was supposed to start. If she had declined the offer from the 2nd company then no bridges would have been burned since she never said she would take it. The 2nd company is the one jerking her around. Or at least the recruiter for the 2nd company.

          Reply
      6. Liane

        “…LW well and truly burned that bridge.” Which OP acknowledges in the question.
        So sorry about this, OP. I wish I had advice.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Ampersand

      Every time I see your handle I stop and think about whether this issue under discussion is actually a hill to die on. It amuses me :)

      Reply
  5. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I had something similar happen to me with a recruiter a few years ago. Fortunately, I had a job at the time and was waiting to put my notice in until I had a firm start date. When I firmly pushed for an answer, they hemmed and hawed before utterly dropping off the face of the planet. Phone calls and emails went unanswered. I went on my merry way and found another job. A couple years later the same recruitment company reached out to me to see if I was interested in applying at the same job. I very politely, but sternly, told them my concerns about what happened last time and that I would not be pursuing employment through their agency again.

    I have since pulled up reviews for both the agency and (very well known) company. This is extraordinarily common and indicative of how the employees are treated there. If something is raising a red flag the size of Texas for you LW, heed it.

    Reply
        1. Lance

          Pull you back up out of the muck? You mean the muck they left you in when they dropped completely out of communication for several years? No freaking thanks.

          Reply
            1. No Green No Haze

              The muck they dropped you in, through the cracks. The mix of alarming metaphors is almost as jaw-dropping as the actual behavior.

              Reply
          1. Specialk9

            My jaw is literally dropped. They dropped the ball and are now *deigning* to pull you up out of the muck and mud in that gutter in which you’ve been languishing without their munificence? Wow. Just. So patronising and blame shifty and ugly.

            Reply
        2. Hey Karma, Over here.

          “going to pull me back up out of the muck”
          Wow, like it was somehow your fault and they were going to SAVE you? I’d be livid.

          Reply
    1. KayEss

      I’m in a field where it’s not uncommon (but also not universal) to use recruiters for even lower-level positions, and I’ve never had a good experience with one. They’re all sunshine and sparkles when they first interview you and then completely drop the ball… I guess because they have a lot of options.

      Reply
    2. Lora

      How did you restrain yourself from saying “go eff yourself?” Because I don’t think I’d have been able to hold it in.

      I mean, I’ve had recruiters attempt to recruit me for a position I already am in, or was in years ago and left, “based on your LinkedIn!” but I just ignored the email.

      Reply
      1. Wannabe Disney Princess

        I toyed with just not answering their phone call. But I figured if it helped even just one other job seeker it was worth it to point it out. I doubt it did any good, but you never know. I like to help out with the Job Seeking Karma when I can.

        Reply
    3. Joanne

      I had the same thing happen as well. I got the job offer (verbally) and was going to send out the written offer the next day, and start on Monday.

      Never happened. It was a government contracting agency – they need to do background checks, I need to get a badge, etc. Totally understandable.

      Two weeks later – I hear nothing back from them, and I start looking for a new job. I emailed the company recruiter asking what had happened, and what they told me was that the contract fell through so the position I had been hired for closed through and wouldn’t be needing anybody. They thought the company had let me know, and I told them, firmly and politely, that no one from the company had let me know that the contract fell through or that I would be out of a job before I even started.

      Reply
    4. Fake old Converse shoes

      Something similar happened to me, but in this case the company contacted me after a year to tell me the job was mine. I declined, and then they called the next one in their list.. which was the guy sitting next to me. Apparently it’s their modus operandi.

      Reply
  6. Mike C.

    What could be so expensive about training that it needs to be done all at the same time at the expense of the employees?

    Oh, wait, I get it. To this company, the expense to the employees is ZERO.

    Reply
    1. legalchef

      I mean, I understand consolidating start dates where possible (like if it would push things 1 week), but not where you make someone wait literal months!

      Reply
    2. Doreen

      I’ve had a number of jobs where there is a legitimate need to train a number of people at the same time. What they have always done is set the start date of the training before the hiring process begins, so that before you accept the job you already know that your start date will be in three weeks or a month or even two months. They don’t tell you they need you ASAP and then delay for weeks. And they don’t delay the training because a couple of people turned them down down – they go ahead with the training and fill those jobs on the next round.

      Reply
    3. JessaB

      Mike C. I’ve worked in a lot of call centres. You usually have training classes of 5-20 people depending on the set up and how many training stations you have available. It’s extremely expensive to onboard just one or two people at a time. I’ve trained CSRs for a sales type position, for an answering service, and for a credit card processing bank. I know people who’ve trained workers for insurance companies.

      You don’t do that kind of training one at a time, you do it all in batches, but as others have said, you have the dates set out already and the goal is to bring in x people plus a couple of extras on hold because you’re gonna lose people in training.

      It gets expensive because depending on how large the company is the trainers don’t only work at one location. I trained CSRs in three different cities. In batches of 20. If they wanted to train one or two at a time they’d have to have a trainer in every office. We also didn’t run training all the time. Most places with sufficient turnover ran once a quarter. A lot of trainers also do other work in the company. At one company we were QA at another that I worked for the trainers were HR people. Their job wasn’t training all day every day.

      Reply
      1. Sam.

        For the kind of job you’re describing, yes, it makes total sense. But OP specifies this isn’t the kind of job where people are typically brought on in batches.

        Reply
  7. AnotherAlison

    OP, I am furious on your behalf. I’ve been waiting on an internal relo for a couple months and am starting to wonder if there are red flags, and I still have an income! I can’t even imagine having that frustration without a paycheck.

    Reply
  8. Gazebo Slayer

    A company did this to my brother once… for *nine months.* Then, two months after he finally started, they closed his whole office and moved it halfway across the country to a cheaper state, not even offering the current employees the option of relocation.

    As for this case, I’ve encountered shady enough recruiters that I’m starting to wonder if you’ve even actually been hired at all. There are a lot of lying recruiters and outright scammers out there.

    Reply
  9. Melissa

    I find this situation weird, because in my office, the start date is determined and communicated in writing and on the phone with the offer. Granted, I work the Fed and you go straight from one job to the next based on pay periods.

    I also wouldn’t have rescinded my acceptance of the other job unless I had an ironclad start date. Personally, I would have started the other job, and then when the other one finally came through with a firm start date, that of course allows for 2 weeks notice, I would have informed the supervisor that either “my dream job unexpectedly became available” or some line about “personal reasons”. It’s not the most professional course of action, but it makes sure you are still bringing in money, and most supervisors will understand “dream job” or “personal reasons”. And if they don’t they probably aren’t supervisors you’d want to be working for long term anyway.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      At first, I was surprised you’d take the job and then leave quickly, but it sounds like LW accepted the job and then turned it down. Definitely in that same ball park. So yes, it would have been better to hold onto that bird in the hand, until the dodo bird in the bush actually landed.

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        We recently had someone in our office that accepted an internal promotion, and then within 2 months informed us she was leaving due to her fiancé getting a job in another state AND she wanted our assistance in trying to get a hardship transfer to our regional office in that state. Sometimes things come up. Your supervisor doesn’t need to know that things that came up were things you were expecting. And sometimes you need to do what you need to do to feed and house yourself and make sure the bills are paid.

        Reply
      2. ArtK

        No. OP accepted job #1, the was given an offer for job #2, which she declined, the day before she was supposed to start job #1. She didn’t start a job and then leave after a few days, nor did she accept any offer and then back out. She’s completely clean in this. It’s all job #1 that is jerking her around.

        Reply
    2. Pollygrammer

      I think start date comes with the offer most of the time. I agree with you that it wouldn’t have been so very terrible to accept and start the other job–but in LW’s position I probably wouldn’t have thought to do it.

      Reply
    3. animaniactoo

      LW was given the impression that they needed to start right away. Not rescinding and going ahead with the other company (had that been true), would have meant working for 2 days and then saying “Oh, it turns out I need to start another job next week”

      It is one thing to wait to give notice until you have a firm start date. But when you’re looking and you’re being told “asap”, and you’re told you have the job, it is entirely reasonable to believe that “right away” means “within 2 weeks” and you should not burn the bridge EVEN HARDER at the other company by showing up to work for a week and waste everyone’s time.

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        Right, but she burned the bridge either way. I’m just saying she shouldn’t have shot herself in the foot while doing it. IMO, there aren’t levels of bridge burning. You either do it or you don’t.

        I understand that someone who has never gone through a hiring process before may not have known what to look for in an offer, but the OP doesn’t sound like a first time job searcher. Based solely on the information provided in the OP, it didn’t sound like an official offer (i.e. an actual date in writing, with salary details) and therefore I don’t think she should have rescinded her offer for a sure thing.

        Reply
    4. Triumphant Fox

      Agreed. My formal offer included start date, salary, and all the terms I had negotiated upon hiring (review schedule, having a private office, parking, vacation in the first 6 months that had already been planned, bonus compensation, date that my benefits would start, etc.). I wonder what the offer looked like?

      Reply
        1. Anony Moose

          My husband interviewed (phone screen plus in-person interview) for a new job and was given a verbal offer of employment several weeks ago. He accepted the verbal offer but elected to wait until he had a written offer before giving notice at work. Thank goodness he did, because the job ended up rescinding the offer (took about two weeks for us to learn about this). According to the recruiter, they had “reevaluated their workflow” and decided to bring in a temp contractor (a former employee) instead of a new hire. We were SO thankful he hadn’t given notice.

          Reply
      1. Half-Caf Latte

        I recently got a new job at the second largest employer in one of the largest cities in the country. Offer was verbal, and when I asked for written I was told offer letters aren’t sent until you accept the job over the phone.

        And I recall Allison saying previously that offers don’t have to be written to be formal/valid, although I agree the lack of start date and other communication is a problem here.

        Reply
    5. Mabel

      In this situation, I might do what Melissa is suggesting (start job #1 and then leave within weeks/months if job #2 comes through). However, I do not agree that supervisors who don’t understand “dream job” or “personal reasons” are supervisors you don’t want to be working for long term. If I leave a new job after a few weeks, then I am the one inconveniencing the new employer and costing them money when they need to start their hiring process all over again. They may understand why I’m leaving so quickly, but if they are not happy about it, that doesn’t mean they would be bad, heartless supervisors.

      Reply
  10. Clever Name

    I’ve never found a job through a recruiter. I always assumed once you’d interviewed with the company and decided to hire you, you work with the company, not the recruiter. I know the recruiter usually negotiates salary, etc., but shouldn’t she have some contact with the company itself? I would want to contact HR and say something like “I’m very concerned about the lack of information coming from the recruiter. I was offered the position, and turned down other work, and I still haven’t heard about when I will start. Can you help me figure out where we are in the process?”

    I realize you probably can’t go around the recruiter, but this seems so weird.

    Reply
    1. Anony

      I was confused by that as well. I’m wondering if it is worth going around the recruiter as a last ditch effort before walking away. At that point, it it comes off badly you haven’t really lost anything.

      Reply
    2. Oxford Coma

      I worked as a temp for two years, and was required to go through my recruiter for all HR-related issues (sick days, COLA adjustment, “you’re no longer a newbie” token raise). It was incredibly frustrating and the recruiter was very deceptive in order to maximize his slice of the pie, though the company itself was good. It was not an experience I would repeat.

      Reply
    3. Coalea

      I got my last 2 jobs through recruiters. As far I recall, in both cases the recruiter acted as a liaison between me and the company through the interview process. She then contacted me to say, “hey, FYI, they want to make you an offer. If they do, will you accept?” I told her I would. Someone from the company called shortly thereafter and made the offer, and then immediately sent over an offer letter to be signed and returned. All subsequent communication was between me and the company.

      Reply
    4. Jesmlet

      At the end stages of the interview process, I’d likely already have or be asking for the hiring manager’s contact info. How do follow-up/”thank you” emails work if you’re going through an external recruiter? I’ve never gotten a job this way either and the process really seems tedious.

      Reply
      1. Karo

        When I don’t have the hiring manager’s contact info, I’ve sent my thank you notes to the recruiter as an attached document and asked the recruiter to pass it along.

        Reply
    5. Blue Eagle

      This was my question as well. If the recruiter isn’t providing satisfactory information for the OP, why didn’t Alison suggest that she talk to the company directly?

      Reply
  11. animaniactoo

    Note: You did not just turn down another job – you rescinded an acceptance in order to take this job, and burned a bridge in the process.

    I think at this point, I wouldn’t even jump through the hoops of “Is there a way to get me a start date soon?” I would move straight from “I’m alarmed at how long this is taking…” to “Based on the history so far, I’m going to start looking. I’m not rescinding my acceptance, but I am saying that unless this comes through and I actually start very quickly, I may no longer be available because I cannot afford to wait indefinitely for a start date.” along with Alison’s suggestions about asking whether the company is aware you’ve turned down work, and if it’s possible to speak to them directly.

    Reply
    1. No Mas Pantalones

      I don’t even know if I’d continue beyond “I’m alarmed at how long this is taking.” They haven’t given OP any courtesy, so why give them any? OP should search, and accept any offer deemed worthy, and then break the news to Smarmy Recruiter and Potentially Smarmy Company.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        Because a) you want to be clear how much you’ve invested in this position, what you’ve lost by accepting and then not starting “asap” as told; and b) she believes it’s primarily the recruiter and wants to try not to burn this bridge too until she’s got something else and can happily tell them to go to hell.

        Reply
    2. Cucumberzucchini

      Why do they need to know that she’s looking again? I would put the pressure on them simply by telling them I was alarmed and need to get started asap while I continued to job hunt without them knowing about a job hunt. Not that it’s fair but they could be close to getting her started and once they hear she’s job hunting could move on to someone else.

      Reply
      1. Anony

        I think the idea is to put added pressure on them to get everything in order. The message is that if they finalize everything before another job offer comes, OP is still interested but that they won’t be available indefinitely.

        Reply
        1. Elsajeni

          But I think that’s a bad idea — it creates the risk that they’ll say “oh, sorry, in that case we’ll cut you loose right now, good luck out there!” It’s like telling your current employer that you plan to start job-hunting unless they do X — it might motivate them to do X, but it also might make them start thinking of you as someone who already has one foot out the door, or they might just call your bluff and say “well, we’re not able to do X, so we’ll sure be sorry to see you go.” You can, and probably should, start searching, but I think it’s generally a bad idea to TELL the employer or prospective employer who’s ticking you off that you’ve started searching.

          Reply
  12. Boredatwork

    This is a huge red flag. I’d be very interested to know if OP had received a written offer letter from the company or even had a contact (like their new boss) from the interview process. If OP lacks both of these things, that offer could be way more “final stages” than “onboarding”. The company could still be interviewing for OP’s position and the recruiter stretched the truth, since they had knowledge of OP starting another job.

    After a month, OP is more than entitled to an honest conversation with the people they are supposed to be working with not a recruiter. If it were me I’d send my “new boss” an email, expressing my desire to onboard immediately, under the guise of enthusiasm and general confusion.

    Reply
    1. Pollygrammer

      Yep. Once the connection has been made, the recruiter has no right to remain possessive of all communication.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Especially once the company has decided to send you an offer and you’ve accepted since there’s all sorts of legitimate onboarding questions that should be handled through directly communicating with your manager/company – what time of day to arrive, dress code, anything in particular to bring, which door to go in (if it’s a big building), parking/security passes if applicable, and so on.
        The fact the recruiter refuses to put you in contact with the company at this point really makes me think that Bored is right – the recruiter has stretched the truth and oversold exactly where OP is in the process.

        Reply
    2. Mephyle

      I was wondering about this, too. If the OP genuinely has a firm offer from the company, why is it still necessary to communicate through the recruiter. That doesn’t sound legit.

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        I am also confused by this. Did OP ever have a conversation with the would-be boss at any point? Or anyone who actually works at the company? Was there an actual written offer?
        I’ve never worked with a recruiter so I don’t have a good understanding of what is and is not normal, but I would think that by the time an offer is extended, you should have at least had contact with SOMEONE within the company. I understand that it’s in poor form to back-door a recruiter during the application process, but does that extend to working out the details of the job offer? I think it’s good that OP has re-started their job search because I suspect that this job will never be forthcoming.

        Reply
        1. Boredatwork

          I have exclusively used recruiters – once the offer has been made/accepted you deal entirely with the hiring company for onboarding. It’s extremely odd to not be in direct communication with your hiring manager at this point.

          Reply
    3. A Person.

      I’m suspicious as well, if the recruiter knew the OP was supposed to start a new job the very next day (and therefore was about to lose the placement) did the recruiter fake the offer and hiring timeline to prevent that from happening?

      Seems like it is appropriate to contact the company directly at this point.

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        If nothing else than to let them know the recruiter is acting inappropriately, has resulted in the loss of candidates.

        Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        Oooooooh…. this seems very plausible. The recruiter might have seen her best prospect about to remove herself from the field, figured the company would come through, and counted on the timeline shenanigans to all come out in the wash and neither OP nor company would ever know. And now is stalling like mad.

        Reply
        1. Anony

          That’s what I was thinking too. OP needs to talk to the company to make sure that they are on the same page and figure out if it is a shady recruiter or a shady company.

          Reply
  13. Lora

    Do you have anyone in your network with this company? Can you ask them if this is really the company or abnormal or what?At this point, honestly I’d write off the company, take on all the freelance work you can, resume the job search, and until the glorious day when they come up with a firm start date confirmed by the employer (NOT the recruiter who sounds flaky af), then you can say, “sorry, my earliest start date is X, as I have some freelance commitments.”

    Major companies do not wait around for ever and ever for senior positions just because their next onboarding session isn’t until the 12th of Never. They either bring you in and have you hang out sort of uselessly meeting people and reading SOPs and quality policies for a couple of weeks until the next onboarding week happens, or they schedule a special training session for you. Major companies have onboarding sessions scheduled at least once a month, sometimes twice a month, until the HR staff all die of boredom telling people where the bathroom is and what not to do with company laptops. This is extremely not normal for a major company hiring even for an entry level position, and it certainly isn’t normal for a senior position. Most senior positions in major companies are more like, “the previous vice assistant principal lead president left eight months ago, but we will take our time selecting the right candidate, although of course we would like you to start soon we understand if there’s some projects that need wrapped up where you are now” and then you tell them if you can start in two weeks or two months or whatever. You pick your own start date, and they agree to it or complain that they would like you to be involved in MegaProject and could you please start sooner.

    I suspect something happened that’s really a hiring freeze or a mass layoff or something was announced and now the position is iffy and nobody is really sure what’s going on, and she’s stalling and telling fairytales in case everything shakes out OK.

    Reply
    1. K.

      Exactly. My previous employer’s onboarding sessions were once a month. Everyone who had been hired between sessions attended the next one, regardless of seniority. (There was a VP in my group, which was great because it meant I got some face time with him. We worked together on a few projects and I was already comfortable with him because we’d sat through the same dumb harassment video from 1986.)

      I’m with you – I wonder if the position no longer exists or is in serious jeopardy, and the recruiter is just stalling.

      Reply
    2. Antilles

      +1
      Also worth noting that even if their training sessions *were* only once a month or whatever, they’d simply say *that* “ooh, sorry, we need to do a background check, then training which you just missed”. The fact it’s a vaguely non-specific timeline of waiting to schedule it either indicates (a) this company doesn’t have their stuff in order or (b) the recruiter is straight up lying.

      Reply
  14. Student

    If you’ve accepted a job offer, why is the recruiter still in the communications chain, here? Tell your recruiter that you expect direct contact info for the company (and specifically your line manager) that has hired you ASAP.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      I didn’t understand this in Alison’s response. If I have the job, why wouldn’t I contact the key person who interviewed me long before this. Why s the recruiter mediating this still. The answer I assume is that there is no job offer, but better to hear this from the puzzled hiring manager than to keep waiting.

      Hope the OP can find another job soon; at this point I’d be reluctant to go with this company. If I did end up there, I’d probably keep looking until I was very confident they were not as unreliable as they appear.

      Reply
  15. No Mas Pantalones

    The situation is odd, so it might be worth risking an attempt to reach the people within the company that the LW spoke to originally. Call the front desk and ask to speak for Mr. McBlah or whomever and get some details. Also do a little google-sleuthing on this recruiter. This is some shady shiz here. Unfortunately, I don’t see it turning out very well.

    Reply
  16. WellRed

    I don’t know much about recruiters, etc. and from this forum, I have learned there can be degrees of shady. But, I also can read this as, the company is being a pain and the recruiter might be caught in the middle? Either way, I think I’d run away.

    Reply
  17. Lynne879

    So something similar happened to a relative- it was a temp job, but the employer said they absolutely needed her right away & she was hired… only for the employer to completely ghost her after she was “hired.” They never gave her a start date, the recruiter tried contacting them multiple times but never could. So she ended up not working there at all :/

    Be direct with your recruiter, but begin job searching ASAP

    Reply
    1. many bells down

      I had two part-time jobs once, and one of them told me they wanted me for full-time hours starting in the summer. So I gave my other position notice, and when that was up I discovered I wasn’t even on the schedule at the other job. For the entire month.

      Six months later, having found a new job, I came into the office to get some paperwork and the receptionist said “oh we were trying to call you to see if you could work this week.” Yeaaahh … I don’t work for you guys anymore, thanks though.

      Reply
  18. Bend & Snap

    Recruiter doesn’t mean you can’t ever talk to the company. I’d get in touch with the hiring manager to see what’s up. This is awful.

    Reply
    1. BethRA

      +1

      Especially since this is a third party recruiter, how long is it reasonable to wait until you go over their head?

      Reply
  19. MommyMD

    The check’s in the mail. Sorry about missed opportunities and I’d start a serious job search. You don’t have a job at this point. Not until you work the first day.

    Reply
  20. CatCat

    Instead of “I need to set a start date for very soon — is there a way to make that happen?” could OP put forth a firmer deadline?

    Like, “I need to start by February 21 – is there a way to make that happen?”

    “Very soon” it won’t be understood in the same terms (like “ASAP”) as a specific date would.

    Reply
    1. CatCat

      I kind of garbled that last sentence. I meant that like “ASAP,” the recruiter and/or company may have a different idea of what “very soon” means than OP does. No one can misunderstand what “February 21” means.

      Reply
  21. Bingo

    I wonder if there is legal action that can be taken here? It sounds like OP accepted the contract in good faith (and turned down other income in order to accept said contract) and the employer/contractor has not followed through with their end of the bargain.

    Any contract lawyers in the crowd??

    Reply
    1. Melissa

      I am interested to know if this was an official contract, or an email/phone call that they wanted her to start ASAP. Anything other than an official written and signed offer is not an official offer.

      Reply
    2. MLB

      I believe I’ve read on here (or somewhere) that even an official offer letter isn’t legally binding. This letter gives me the impression that she received a verbal offer and nothing official.

      Reply
    3. Blah

      Not a lawyer, but have discussed this with lawyers previously when it happened to me. Not really much can be done, as much as it sucks. Most likely OP was hired on at will – so they could’ve been fired at anytime, so this is essentially the same. It could differ a bit if OP was hired as a contract employee – not just that say signed a contract, but that they were to work specifically for a certain period of time, but my guess is most companies have a clause/wording to protect against that as well.

      Reply
      1. Blah

        Though looking into this more, that might be due to my state in particular, there’s a chance a promissory estoppel claim could apply. As said, not a lawyer :)

        Reply
    4. Chicken

      Ha, I just left a comment below. I’m not a contract lawyer though I am a lawyer – I think the relevant term would be detrimental reliance, which can generally be based on an oral contract. But I have no idea if the OP has a good case, or if it’s possible to sue in OP’s jurisdiction.

      Reply
    5. Millennial Lawyer

      Not a contract lawyer, just employment lawyer, but it sounds possible. It’s something OP should look into.

      Reply
    6. Pomona Sprout

      I was thinking along the same lines, but particularly wondering whether LW would have legal recourse against the recruiter, if it turns out that they lied about there being a firm job offer, as a number of commenters have suggested. The LW basically gave up another job opportunity AND passed on a lot of freelance work to take this offer, with obvious financial repercussions. If it turns out the recruiter was conning them, would they have a legal case against that person and/or the recruiting firm?

      Reply
  22. MLB

    I would just continue my job search and stop contacting the recruiter (don’t ignore her but stop reaching out). She’s not giving you any answers, and you owe her nothing. If you can get freelance work, do it. If you find another job take it. It’s time for you to look out for #1 because it’s clear the recruiter isn’t doing anything to help you.

    Reply
  23. Chicken

    If the job doesn’t end up working out you could talk to an attorney about suing the company on the basis of detrimental reliance (you can google for more info – I’d try the search terms detrimental reliance and employment law). Note that I have no idea if that’s even an actionable claim in your jurisdiction, and even if it’s legally feasible it might not be the right move for you.

    Reply
  24. AKchic

    Until you have actually started working, I don’t think you can be sure you even have a job. You didn’t mention you’ve had a hire letter, or filled out new hire paperwork.

    Yes, Alison’s script is great, but I would be looking for other jobs. I would be taking freelance work. Do not let this recruiter hold your financial future hostage with empty, vague promises right now. They have made no promises or guarantees that they can reasonably be held to. Their credibility is nil.

    Reply
  25. Chriama

    What I don’t understand is, why is contacting the company directly not an option. Presumably the recruiter stopped being the primary relationship when OP accepted the offer? OP has presumably met the hiring manager, right? Why not reach out directly and ask what the hold up is? If the company is mismanaging things this will make that clear, and if the recruiter is the issue then aren’t they unlikely to pass any information that could make them look bad?

    I guess I’m just wondering why it seems that Alison’s advice assumes that the risk of incompetence or malfeasance on the recruiter’s part can be handled by a stern conversation?

    Reply
  26. Quinalla

    I agree this seems very shady that the recruiter is still involved if you have an offer. Did you interview with the company? I would call the recruiter and use the alarmed language and then if you don’t get satisfaction pretty much immediately, go around them and contact the employer directly. If you don’t have a direct contact to the employer, then start looking for another job immediately as you obviously can’t count on this one whether the recruiter or the company is leading you on.

    Reply
  27. Fergus Formerly Known as the Artist Fergus

    You have no job. Also kick that recruiter and the company to the curb. You need a job. I bet they don’t have funding and are waiting on it, so don’t wait for them, it might never happen.

    Reply
    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Hmm. Is there a way find that out on one’s own, without asking the recruiter? That would be valuable information. I did interview with a company once who said I was underqualified for the position they wanted at the moment, but that they’d be hiring more people for lower levels when they had funding in a few months, and would call me then. I really liked that company, and wanted to work there. The funding fell through and the company shut down. Good thing I was underqualified for their first position, or else I’d have found myself out of work.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Calling the hiring manager is the way to find out I would think. Or the most senior person the OP interviewed. The recruiter is worthless. Maybe there was never an offer. Maybe the company is as flakey as it appears. But the only way to find out if there is a job is by talking to the company hiring manager at this point. If they give you the brush off or are vague, you have your answer. I am guessing it will be something like ‘no decision has been made on that position yet.’ Or ‘we have a hiring freeze.’ Or ‘funding on the Llama Project fell through.’

        Reply
  28. legalchef

    I’ve never worked with a recruiter before, but couldn’t the LW reach out to the company itself and just bypass the recruiter? Presumably she has met with the HM (or others) over there when interviewing and therefore would know who to contact.

    Reply
  29. MissDissplaced

    Oh wow! That really, really sucks!
    It happened to me once, and when I wasn’t onboarded after 6 weeks I acceped another job.
    I understand them wanting to have a mass training, but start once you have about 3-4 people.

    Reply
    1. Anony

      Mass training is nice, but I think delaying by over a month is unreasonable. And if it does have to be delayed for a while, everyone should be given a specific date and not left hanging so that they can make an informed decision about whether the wait is worth it.

      Reply
  30. Jaybeetee

    Was anything given to the OP in writing? As in, was there a written offer they looked at/signed off on? Or has this all been word of mouth?

    I had a similar situation with my current job. I was emailed with a job offer, which was awesome, and told a letter of offer with start date would follow the next week. Long story short, for reasons I’ve never learned, it took two months to get that LOO to me, with at least three interim promises that it would come “next week.” The problem was, in the meantime the contract position I’d been working at also offered me a job (lower salary, worse benefits, less advancement than the other offer). I *knew* the other offer was coming, but it wasn’t official yet. I’d been temping for years at that point and didn’t want to turn down a permanent job without something very firm in hand from the new place, but also didn’t want to screw them over by accepting the job only to bail out a week later.

    …I wound up accepting the lower salary offer, and feeling so guilty that I nearly resolved to turn down the other offer, but some people close to me convinced me not to do that. I wound up quitting in favour of the other job about a month later, which made me feel lousy, but they were actually quite understanding about it, considering (again, difference in salary and advancement opportunities).

    Lesson: do not assume you have the job until you have a start date and have signed something. Even if you’re SURE you have the job, they’ve assured you it’s yours, you’ve been offered verbally or in a quick email, don’t assume you have it until you have the piece of paper confirming it. And until then, behave as if you don’t have it. In my book, it’s better to take another job and have to quit (especially in the temp world, that’s actually quite common), then to turn down one, have the other one vanish at the last moment, and end up with nothing. (Moreover, OP should take on board this lack of organization at this job, and bear in mind whether she would still think it’s worth quitting another job over should it come to that – my circumstances behind doing that were rather specific, but I’d say in a lot of cases, an organization that doesn’t respect your time or their promises like that probably has other problems too).

    Reply
  31. Safely Retired

    And after that, the recruiter told me the truth: they’re trying to hire multiple people at once, and want everyone to be trained at the same time.

    The latest update: one person they wanted just turned it down, so they’re starting over again.

    The truth, perhaps. Or just another line, and another.

    I am struggling to understand how you don’t have any direct contact with the actual employer. Obviously a situation beyond my experience… or even my imagination.

    Reply
  32. Overeducated

    Ugh, I’m sorry, OP. I have the opposite problem – I’ve been asked to commit to a start date, which I agreed to on the understanding the written offer would be following close behind, but I’m still waiting. That means my notice period hasn’t started yet, even as the start date is creeping up, so it might have to be changed after getting the offer. It’s now starting to impact my current work, since it’s a semi-internal hire so they have been very open with my boss and boss has understandably tried to keep me from putting anything new on my plate, so…now I’m sitting here on AAM at 4:30 on a Thursday, hi guys!

    I don’t know what to say except that the recruiter/hiring company needs to get it together, and you need to take care of yourself and find some freelance work if needed.

    Reply
  33. DumbQuestion

    “The latest update: one person they wanted just turned it down, so they’re starting over again.”

    They didn’t have a #2 choice? That’s…odd. I’m interviewing now and I’m 1 of 3 candidates. I’m sure if I turned it down they’d offer the job to the #2 and move on.

    Reply
    1. Anony

      It isn’t necessarily odd that they didn’t have a second choice. If none of the other candidates impressed them it is better to start over than settle (usually). The part that seems shady is that they are holding up the hiring process for a different position over it. It might have made sense originally to delay the start date a little if they were close to hiring someone, but that is no longer true.

      Reply
  34. Gayle Davidson-Durst

    Ugh, I’m so sorry OP.

    I tell you what – this underlines something that I’ve been noticing more and more within my job, and I guess it applies outside too:

    “ASAP” MEANS “NEVER”

    I will no longer accept assignments from my managers with “ASAP” as the deadline. Too many unrealistic expectations and too much avoidance of hard decisions lurk within those four letters. Tell me “next Thursday” or “tomorrow by noon,” and I can let you know what’s possible and what will get dropped to make it so. But you don’t get to fantasize that I have unlimited capacity or be mad when my interpretation of “possible” is different from yours!

    Similarly, if I need something soon but not at a really specific time, I make up a deadline for the person I’m asking. Otherwise they (understandably) tend to back-burner my request and often forget about it.

    Reply
  35. SpinningYarns

    Oh, man, LW, so much sympathy!
    I was hired the the feds in mid 2016… and someday I’ll actually work for them.
    The waiting really stinks and I hope you’re able to go around this recruiter and get into a job soon!

    Reply
      1. SpinningYarns

        Mostly, the government has the HR department from hell and just hasn’t processed my paperwork yet. I’m hired and passed my qualifications in 2016, but they have to put me in the system and that hasn’t been done.
        I have had confirmatiin that they still ant me- and I really want the job!- but I was also informed this week that I might be able to start sooner if I move out of state. I’m not available to move, so it’s back to waiting, I guess.

        Reply
        1. AnonAndOn

          I am sorry to hear that. I realize that the government hiring and onboarding process can be slow, but two years is too long of a wait.

          Reply
        2. artgirl

          Is there a hiring freeze in place at that agency? A lot of people ended up in limbo when the recent big one was implemented.

          Reply
  36. Cordoba

    Presumably LW has the hiring manager’s contact info from when LW interviewed with them. Call the manager directly and sort this out. If LW was given a “fairly senior role” at a “major financial institution” without actually speaking directly with the hiring manager then I’m 100% confident that this opportunity is some sort of scam and does not actually exist.

    If they want to hold off on training until they have X people together for a class then fine, but in the meantime tell the company that you will start (and start getting paid) and learn/do what you can before the full training kicks off.

    I’ve started several jobs a month or more before the official “onboarding” training. You can still meet people and get things done without it, and a few weeks of actual work will probably make the training more valuable by giving you some context for it. Generally the training is a waste of time anyway, and you will learn far more from just walking around talking to people and watching how things work.

    Reply
  37. Dzhymm

    This whole litany of one lame excuse after another reminds me of a similar situation involving an “imminent” payoff. Perhaps the company is holding off on hiring until they get the financing from their Nigerian partners.

    Reply
  38. Bookworm

    Like others, I find this extremely bizarre and it does sound like going around the recruiter to either to speak to the company directly or the recruiter’s organization to get more inf is more than warranted. That’s really sucky!

    Thank you for writing your letter. Been there, have been offered multiple projects at a current job only for them to fall through or they never get off the ground. It was my main source of income and the work has all but dried up. I’ve mentioned this (projects now not happening and I’ve turned down other work) but people I’ve mentioned to have not been very responsive. So I’ve been doing what’s being recommend and have been actively looking for other work. Our situations are not quite the same but your letter helped confirm to me that I’m doing the right thing. I hope it works out for you.

    Reply
  39. KDT

    I was always told that a “job offer” was always defined as a something with a set start date and a salary. If you don’t have both of those, you don’t have an offer.

    Reply
  40. Watery Bowels of Temp Hell

    You’re a temp. The recruiter frankly doesn’t give a shit if you end up under a bridge as long as she gets her commission. Some of these execs at the “we hire temps only” F500s whack off to pics of homeless people. Move on – the bigger a pool of desperate precariats these recruiters have the nlljef they are.

    Reply
  41. AnonAndOn

    A temp agency pulled this mess with me, but I wasn’t working at the time so I didn’t pass up on another job for it. Told me that I needed to start “ASAP” but when I got the details of the assignment they were vague. When I followed up on it with the temp agent to get more information, I was told that the position was put on hold and that the client decided to go in another direction. Frustrating because I need to work again. Makes me wonder if that job existed in the first place. OP, I too wonder if the job you’re trying to get ever existed. It’s infuriating how they string people along like that.

    Reply
  42. Nico m

    I suspect the job has almost but not quite been filled/cancelled by the company. The recruiter is a greedy jerk who would rather keep you on the hook for the 10% chance the jobs going to still happen than have you give up and take another job.

    So contact the hiring manager. If the job has “gone” you can at least show them the recruiter is unprofessional.

    Reply
  43. Patty

    What they’re doing is unreasonable, but the fact you backed out of another job the day before you were due to start makes it difficult to feel that much sympathy TBH.

    Reply
    1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

      Why? Wouldn’t you, if you thought the second offer was better, and for sure?
      Or would you stay with a job you wanted less/paid less/had less opportunity, just because you got hired there first?

      Reply
  44. NotVeryActiveHere

    I was interviewed for and got a hotel receptionist job many years ago – the perfect job for a university student in the summer, with mainly night shifts and plenty of time for reading.

    The first day I was supposed to work I showed up and was told the hotel director had hired her niece instead.

    That’s how I ended up going straight to the state-run labour exchange and got my first job as a restaurant chef – completely untrained, but they needed someone the very same day. Four days later I was the ONLY chef, for two weeks, since the (trained) chef and the restaurant owner had a big fight and the chef walked out.

    Now I work in the field I trained for, but still do a couple of catering jobs a year, because being thrown into a restaurant kitchen like that was wonderful training. Stressful, but wonderful, and I haven’t been afraid of anything at work since then.

    Reply
  45. Amanda

    I could have written this post myself. I’m in a remarkably similar position: turned down a job offer that paid more than I initially asked for (but would have been short term, full time — only until November) for a job I really want and am excited about…five weeks ago. I then had to remove myself from consideration for another position which, in hindsight, I should not have and really regret, but I accepted the offer in good faith and based on their word that I would hear from HR by the end of that week. The position I accepted is in government, so there’s a lot of red tape and bureaucratic nonsense, but even after multiple rounds of emails and receiving assurances that everything is being worked out, over a month later I have no paperwork and no start date. I’m both kicking myself for this, and have resumed my job search.

    My industry works in cycles, so I was excited about transitioning to a full time, permanent role (and that stability is a huge part of why I turned down the initial offer for this job), but I’ve now run through almost all of my savings, have mounting bills and student loans to pay, and I’m just upset and furious at the situation. What somehow makes it feel worse is that I’ve worked with and know the people at this job, I have run into them at social functions (during this process!) and so it feels very personal on top of everything else.

    All of this is to say, LW, I empathize, it’s a frustrating and upsetting spot to be in, and Alison, thank you for the script for the email — I’m sending one similar to that this weekend.

    Reply
  46. Noah

    Oh my gosh. An unsatisfactory response from the recruiter at this point would justify going around them to the hiring manager. An email providing brief, non-emotional description of what’s happening will get any reasonable manager to address this situation; and if it doesn’t, you dodged a bullet.

    Reply

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