here is your script if you need to check on a job you haven’t started yet

I’m getting a lot of questions about what to do if you’ve accepted a job, have a start date at some point in the future, and are wondering if it’s going to be pushed back or even if the offer might be revoked.

If you’re in that situation, here’s a script to send to your contact at the new job:

“I know these are very difficult times and lots of things are up in the air at many companies. I wanted to touch base about the position I’m slated to start on (date). Should we still be on track for that, or is there any reason to think plans may need to change? I’m very much looking forward to starting work with you, but realize there’s a lot of uncertainty right now.”

{ 30 comments… read them below }

  1. HBJ*

    Does anyone know if I would be eligible for unemployment under the new law if I quit my prior job, I still have my new job, but my new job’s start date is being pushed back for several weeks at the very least, probably indefinitely until business is back to normal.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The expanded unemployment law makes people eligible for benefits who were “were scheduled to start employment and do not have a job or cannot reach their place of employment as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak” — which sounds like it applies to you. Try filing in your state.

      1. HBJ*

        Thank you! My googlefu must not be very good, because I was googling like crazy and couldn’t find a clear answer.

        1. LostInTransition*

          I am in the same boat. Any advice on if the new job is in another state? Try to file in the state where I currently live or in the new state? I worked for the new place previously, but not working the past year.

  2. ccnumber4*

    I’m a corporate recruiter and consider it my job to keep my candidates informed on any delays (so far, none!) we have in our hiring process, especially right now. It’s in my best interest that they not get cold feet, so I am updating each of them at least once a week, more often if necessary. This is one time where I don’t mind over-communication from a candidate. Especially those who are already in the hiring process. I hope most companies recognize this, but understand many will not.

    1. selena81*

      It’s nerve-wrecking to live in uncertainty over a job that would really lift up my career, so i appreciate that the hr-department from my new employer tries to keep me in the loop. It’d rather be hearing every day than every week, but on the other hand i also don’t want meaningless ‘you are still welcome, nothing has changed’ updates

      (I’m pretty lucky compared to most people in my situation: i am going to work for the government in a regulatory role that i expect to become _more_ important in the event of a recession. I’m sorry for everybody who is up for a job in the tourism sector)

  3. Cambridge Comma*

    I was interviewing by video at a medium sized (200 staff) company this week (withdrew from the process because of frequent travel not mentioned in the ad) and they were very keen to keep the process moving. They would have mailed out a computer and done all onboarding by video. They had started 4 people on April 1.

  4. NQ*

    I’m in this position and my future manager hit me up this week just to chat and also to let me know what’s going on on his end. He seems like a top guy and I really hope he is so I can get emotionally past my current employment hellscape asap!

  5. RedinSC*

    Just an FYI, I had a new employee start yesterday, so some of us are able to continue to on-board our new employees. It’s not quite what we’d like that to look like, but do reach out to your new job and check in, just know that responses might be delayed, BUT people are still onboarding new staff members.

    1. Phony Genius*

      We did this, too. And this new employee was supposed to move to our area to take the job. Instead, he’s working for us from what was supposed to be his previous home, over a thousand miles away. Right now, all he can do is online training courses.

  6. Anon Anon*

    The job interview that I had lined up for this week has been delayed indefinitely. I suspect that the company may be considering a hiring freeze. I know where I currently work that we won’t on-board anyone until the the shelter-in-place orders are lifted and have been for awhile.

  7. Kumajiro*

    So I have a slightly different problem, and I was wondering if anyone had a script or suggestion I could use (or just a reality check that I’m over thinking this). I currently work as a contractor on Project A. Project A and B have both interviewed me for “real positions.” I had assumed with all of this going on (even letting contractors work from home which is wildly different than what was ever allowed before), that hiring across the board was on a hold, so I thought it best to hold off on checking in with the hiring manager just yet. Now though, I have been contacted by the Project A recruiter that I’ll be getting an offer email this weekend. I might just be overthinking this, but I’m at a lose for how or if I should follow up with Project B about their timeline. I sent an email after the interview, but that was before the job on Project A existed at all, and I haven’t heard back. Following up again might seem to aggressive, but it’s been about a month and a half at this point, and I’d really like to be able to evaluate both offers if I get both.

    1. Anon Anon*

      You have an offer now from project A, so your circumstances have changed since you last reached out. I would reach out again and ask. They may have a freeze, or they may just be dragging their heels and knowing that you have another offer might prompt them to move more quickly.

    2. MissGirl*

      There’s absolutely nothing aggressive about reaching out and saying you have an offer, and you’re wondering about their timeline. Aggressive is calling up to demand they hire you.

  8. NorseMermaid*

    I have almost this situation, I had two interviews beginning of March. The second interview was with the COO and he said that he wanted me to start 2 April and would send me an offer letter the following week.
    I sent a very gentle nudge on the Tuesday after the week he said I would get an email, saying that I totally understand if there was a delay but I just wanted to touch base in case an email had gotten lost in the ether. He emailed back saying that basically they were restructuring their admin organization to make the best use of me and my experience, which seems very hopeful. Then Corona struck and the whole country shut down.
    I am thinking I should just (as we say in Norway) butter myself with patience and wait till they contact me now, as they know I’m interested, right? I don’t want to sound tone deaf chasing when they probably have much bigger priorities.

  9. Judy*

    We had a new hire who was supposed to start Monday. Since I was furloughed last week (along with 5-10 others, I was told) I’ll be livid if they put her on the payroll and allowed her to start working from home. I can’t even get myself to reach out to my unfurloughed colleagues to ask if she started. Grrrrrr.

  10. Elenna*

    If you don’t get a response, what do you think is a reasonable timeline for following up? (Someone I know is in this situation. With a big tech company that is probably being hit but isn’t realistically going to go under, if that helps.) I know Allison is usually a big fan of not being too pushy (and so am I), and I assume you have to give even more leeway right now, but I’m not sure how much.

    Does the answer to the above change if it involves a work visa for another country?

  11. Partly Cloudy*

    I’m on the opposite side of this question. I have a pending new hire who was scheduled to start on 3/30 but has been pushed back to 5/4 now. I called her as soon as I knew we’d be pushing back her start date so there was plenty of lead time for her. Luckily, her old/current job asked her to stay on for as long as possible under the circumstances, so she’s still working and not hanging in the wind, which makes me feel a ton better. In our most recent communication, I let her know that we’re still shooting for 5/4, taking things one step at a time, and will let her know if anything changes.

  12. Nonprofit Nancy*

    To me, this script sounds a little too much like you’ve already accepted being pushed back, which makes it easier for an employer who’s kind of on the fence to say, “you know what yeah it would be better if we put things on hold right now.” If I was sending this kind of message I might tweak it to say, “I’m hopeful we’re still on track to start X date” or, “I realize there’s a lot of uncertainty BUT I’m really excited to get started right away,” or whatever. Just my two cents.

    1. Green*

      Agreed. I would assume things are on track in the email (my start date is 5/4 and I’ll be starting remotely) and wouldn’t take an overly accommodating tone. Pushing back someone’s start date after you’ve made a commitment is a big deal because they’ve relied on your word to their detriment. It may not be avoidablebunder these circumstances but it should still be treated as aberrant and undesirable for all parties.

  13. delicate&lustrous*

    I am in this position–accepted a formal offer, with a start date this summer. So far it seems like it’s moving forward, but I had to give notice for them to negotiate a start date with my current job (government is weird) which I didn’t want to do until it was more certain. Now I’m either going to have an interesting on-boarding process or a very awkward rest of the year with my current employer, who I feel confident will not push me out if it falls through but will punish me via giving bad reviews and poor project selection.

  14. Angrycat*

    I actually did the opposite. I was set to start a job but rescinded my acceptance. I know that’s generally frowned upon but I didn’t want to risk leaving a stable environment for the unknown right now. Let’s if companies in my area are cutting salaries and laying off employees.

  15. Furloughed Newbie*

    I had just completed one month in a new short term position before I got furloughed. My boss has not shared much information beyond conveying that my presence is not required at work this week. My relationship with my new boss is, well, new, and communication is sometimes awkward. I have met only my closest coworkers, since everyone else started working staggered shifts/from home shortly after I started. Does anyone have any suggestions for feeling out the future of my role? Thanks.

  16. Anna*

    Thanks so much for this! I had been procrastinating on reaching out to my future employer, and I finally did so this morning.

  17. Anonymous for this one*

    I know this isn’t the same situation, but can anyone help me with some wording regarding follow-up on interview status? Prior to this Covid situation, I had gone through a phone interview, reference check, and in-person interview. The in-person interview was the final stage and I believe I was one of a handful of candidates to make it to that point. On the day of the interview, my would-be boss said he intended to have additional information in the next two weeks. Around that time, Covid took off and institutions started closing. The person in question is a physician (ER dept) and also does research so I am sure he is more than busy right now with interviews for office positions at the bottom of his priority list (and rightly so). A few days after the in-person interview I sent thank you emails to the people I interviewed with and received a few responses. It’s now been about a month and a half (since the in-person interview and time for him to finish interviewing) and I wonder if I will come off as pushy just wanting to know if the job is even still open or if all interviews/onboarding across the institution are on hold. Can anyone weigh in on this one? Thanks!

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