how do I negotiate my start date at a new job?

A reader writes:

I’ve been a seasonal employee in my field for about 10 years, in jobs that always had pre-determined seasons with non-negotiable start and end dates. I’m hoping/expecting to get an offer for a permanent job next week, and I don’t have a clue how to negotiate a start date. What’s a reasonable amount of time to ask for? Two weeks? Two months? Should I give a specific date or is it better to say “two weeks after the official offer letter comes through”? I’d be moving ~1000 miles for this position — how much difference does that make?

It depends on the job and your situation, but there’s often more flexibility than people assume.

For most professional jobs, asking for a start date two or three weeks out is the most common, but some people ask for (and get) four weeks and that’s often no big deal. (Which I think is news to all the people who don’t think they can ask for three weeks in order to get a week off in between jobs. That’s a pretty normal thing to ask for!)

As positions get more senior, you see more start dates that are further out — like several months away — because it would be really short-sighted to lose the best candidate for a director-level position by quibbling over a month or two. Of course, there could be unusual circumstances requiring an earlier start date, but then the employer would explain that, and the candidate could decide if that worked for them or not. (And when people want start dates that far out, they often raise it during the interview process so no one is blindsided by it later.)

For less senior positions, a few weeks is pretty normal. If you need more than that, you can often explain your situation and ask for more. If you have a good reason (like needing to move), that will often be fine. If it’s not fine, they’ll tell you and you can figure out from there if there’s a way to make it work. The way to frame it is, “I’d like to start as soon as possible, but I need to move up to your area and finding housing there. Would late September work for a start date or do you need me there before that?”

Of course, the tricky part is asking for what you want without sounding like you’re dragging your feet. And you need to know context, which you can often pick up during the interview process — if it’s clear the employer is desperate to have someone start soon because they have an urgent backlog of work, looming legal or client deadlines you’d need to help meet, etc., you risk sounding out-of-sync if you propose a start date two months out.

And in this particular job market — where so many people are unemployed, and where employers’ needs and finances are so subject to change — I’d be particularly wary of pushing for a ton of extra time. I’d rather you get there and start working as soon as you can.

As for whether to propose a specific date or not: When there hasn’t been an offer yet, you can talk in general terms, like “I’d need X weeks after an offer to wrap up my work here and move” or “I could start three weeks after an offer.” Once you have an offer, start talking in terms of dates or at least fairly specific timelines (“would late September work?”).

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Person from the Resume*

    If I were moving 1,000 miles I would at least ask for a start date 4 weeks after the official notification of hiring, possibly longer. With COVID job market, I’d probably go for the minimum so they don’t decide to rethink my hiring.

    I’m assuming you are employed so you need to give 2 weeks notice so that leaves you two weeks to get to the new place, find a place to live, and settle in before starting the new job. You’d have to pack up and leave your old place while working out your final two weeks. that’s not a lot of time. I’d assume that you won’t have any PTO when you start so you’d want to be as settled as possible before starting.

    1. EnfysNest*

      My last move was a transfer between two different locations of the same agency, so I drove 1000 over a 3-day weekend and started at my new location without any break in between – thankfully they paid for packers and a moving truck, but I made arrangements for my apartment sight unseen and then once I arrived it was another 2 weeks before the moving company delivered all my things. My first two weeks at my new location was in a brand-new area I’d never even seen before and sleeping on a sleeping bag on my apartment floor with access only to what I had been able to fit in my car. It was quite the adventure, I guess, but not really something I would recommend if there’s any way to avoid it.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Wow! That’s awful.

        I was in the military so there was a lot of accommodations/providing time for moving so maybe I expect a bit more time. And military personnel don’t start from scratch with zero leave when moving.

        But also I am single and basically have to handle everything myself. Partnered people can leave their partner behind to wrap up selling a house, packing, moving that I cannot. I’ve got to do it myself so I need to account for the time.

        I did live in extended stay hotel for a couple of months when I moved and bought a condo that wasn’t finished being built. A a few months into my job at the new place i needed to take leave to move into the new place.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        Wow, that’s crazy it took that long for the moving company to deliver everything. I had the packing company pack up my stuff on a Thursday, left on a Friday, arrived in my new location (almost exactly 1,000 miles away) on Saturday evening, and got my stuff on Sunday afternoon. I can’t imagine being without everything for two weeks, that’s crazy.
        I did take an earlier trip to the area to secure my apartment, but only looked at a model apartment, not the actual one I moved in. I picked up the key when I got to the new location and moved in.

    2. Risha*

      I still consider it one of the great success stories of my life that I managed to locate a fairly nice house to rent at a reasonable price and accepted 4 dogs and 4 cats, within 5 days of accepting a job offer that wanted me to start in 2 weeks, from 750 miles away.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Well done! My war story is being at a new desk 2000 miles away, exactly 3 weeks from the date of my offer. Found a sublet sight unseen via Craigslist, packed nights while serving out my two weeks notice, booked movers and storage, and flew my brother in to drive with me across the country. That was a real fire drill. I pushed for a 4th week but they wouldn’t budge.

      2. Marissa*

        I pulled off an “arrange a decent house to rent for a reasonable price in a really convenient location, buy a car, move 600 miles by myself with as much stuff as could fit in said car (prius), fill out a staggering amount of background check paperwork, and start the new job exactly eleven days after getting an initial offer letter and ONE WEEK after getting and signing a final offer letter” last year and HOO BOY that was not an experience I ever want to repeat.

      3. BethDH*

        We moved 1300 miles to a house we’d never seen before with 2 cars, 4 chickens, and a not-quite-two-year-old (and no movers). Oh, and I was 5 months pregnant and started the new job two weeks to the day after finishing my old one because I felt guilty about starting pregnant and wanted to get in as much time as possible before starting maternity leave (which they did give me paid, btw).
        In the same situation I’d actually do the same thing again, which may be useful to OP. We used those storage boxes and had those shipped separately, so we just had our cars full of what we’d need for a month and the important stuff. We rented an Airbnb that agreed to let us keep the chickens (rural area, it was easier than we expected) and stayed there the first month.
        After the boxes arrived, I took a few long weekends to finish moving in while we were still in the Airbnb. We only paid about one week of double rent, which was totally worth it. It took a lot of the pressure off settling in to be able to sleep somewhere other than where we were unpacking, especially with a kid.

    3. Sparrow*

      Definitely give yourself a window to move! There are a lot of details to deal with when moving anyway, but a long-distance move gets even more complicated. You might be able to work until the last minute, move over the weekend, and then start the following week, but I think that’s only feasible if you’ve had enough lead time to get the details sorted.

      I’ve moved 1000+ miles twice for work, and in my experiences, they knew I would be moving a long distance and were already expecting to extend the on-boarding timeline, so they were completely unsurprised when I said I would need at least three weeks from the time the official offer was signed. (For the record, though – if it were happening now, I would say 4 weeks.) That’s also been true from the other side of things – whenever my employers have hired someone who first needed to move, the assumption was that we’d need to extend the start date for them.

    4. letter writer*

      I’m hoping for at least four weeks! I’m currently employed in a seasonal job with the same agency, which makes this all a little bit easier.

  2. Third or Nothing!*

    You know, it never occurred to me until I started reading this blog that I could negotiate terms of employment. Ever since I started working way back at age 17, I always ended one job on a Friday and started the next job on the following Monday. I haven’t had a significant break* in the 14 years since. I think the next time I change jobs, I’ll ask for a week or two in between to have a little breather.

    *I’ve had a minimum of 2 weeks vacation since graduating college, but it was always spent on humanitarian trips (my choice, I know, but it brings me joy even if it doesn’t bring me rest) or lately maternity leave and family obligations. I haven’t had a real break since I was a child. I think I should make that happen once it’s safe again.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      You should!

      If money is tight, not missing a paycheck may be critical so that’s why you would finish on a Friday and start the next Monday. But realistically the other company doesn’t verify you end date so when you tell them “I’m available to start on X date” X can create whatever break you want from your old job as long as it’s not so far away that they revoke your hiring because they can’t wait that long.

    2. Nonprofit Nancy*

      In my experience (both hiring and being hired) it’s not something junior positions can generally get away with, but it’s one of those perks that start in mid-career. That said, you are using one of your negotiating chits, which has to be done carefully; sometimes really small stuff like this (a preplanned vacation that’s coming up, a week or two later start) can derail a much bigger ask (salary bump) if it all starts to become “too much.”

      1. Mid*

        I did it for my very first job out of college. Well, the recruiter I was working with did it for me. I asked for three weeks to wrap up my part time positions and move and settle in to my new area.

    3. Jackalope*

      I would add that even now having a break could be good. If you can take time off even if it’s a staycation that would give you a break. Or camping if that’s available, safe in your area, and something you like.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        That’s actually my plan for later in the year when the weather cools down…minus the camping part anyway. I’m going to take some time off and visit a bunch of local preserves to hike and run. I live in Texas though so it’s going to be at least October before being outside all day actually sounds appealing. And my husband used up all his vacation time to stay home from work when all the virus stuff started happening, so I’ll still have to take my toddler with me. Not the nice relaxing break I was hoping for this year but I guess it’s better than nothing.

        One day we’ll be able to leave her at Nana’s house for a week while we go vacation somewhere else. One day.

      1. Foxgloves*

        In the UK here. Notice periods are normally one month for the majority, three months for middle-high management/ specialist workers, six months for directors. You would not hand in your notice until you’ve received your contract (because all jobs have contracts here), and it would be perfectly normal to ask for at least a week off in between jobs. A friend of mine just managed to wangle six weeks off before starting a new job- and that was AFTER a three month notice period. It’s common for there to be some negotiation, but if you hire someone who isn’t unemployed, you’re looking at at least six weeks from when you send them their contract until they start.

    1. TheMonkey*

      Well, it is a US-based blog and that’s where Alison’s expertise lies, so I don’t know that this is that surprising.

      1. Spock*

        It felt like a weird “haha USA sux” comment to me. Which, we get it, US doesn’t have the same work culture and laws as Europe and if people could stop posting weirdly superior comments about it that would be great. Really weird flex.

      2. Daisy*

        I don’t think it would hurt to make that clear sometimes. The Internet is international, and nothing on the blog says ‘US advice only’. This is incredibly region-specific.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      … Of course? The whole site is U.S.-centric. I’m writing from a U.S. perspective and I’m not qualified to give advice on work culture or practices in other countries, nor would I attempt it.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      You know what would be a lot more helpful than this comment? Saying something like, “This might be the case in the U.S., but for someone in the U.K., it’s common/expected to do ______.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right? If you want to share what happens elsewhere, great! Criticizing a US-based writer for writing about the US is just silly.

      2. Sparrow*

        Completely agree. If the commenter’s experience has been different elsewhere in the world, great! I’d be really interested to hear about that because I’m always curious about those kinds of differences. This, on the other hand, is completely uninformative. I couldn’t even tell you what they’re implying!

    4. Viette*

      Alison has stated many times that this blog is about the US workplace! It is an American blog about American workplace norms. I’m not sure what the point of this comment is, but it’s generally assumed that her advice is always for the US-based employee.

    5. NeverNicky*


      As a Brit who has been around AAM for a couple of years, I’d say this advice would be applicable in the UK too – with allowance for our (generally) longer notice periods and (generally) shorter re-location distances.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        Agreed. As a fellow Brit, I think the advice is pretty applicable with the caveat that notice periods for any existing job would be laid out in your contract.

      2. Amey*

        Yes, I agree – even more so to a certain extent. Because our notice periods are so long (in my role it’s 3 months’ notice) asking for a break between jobs is tricky because they’re waiting a long time for you already. In my experience, a week in between would generally be acceptable if you’re having to move for the job, but I wouldn’t ask for anything more. And for some positions you’re pushed to really try to get out of working out your full notice.

    6. fhgwhgads*

      Just take everything in the post that says “two weeks” and replace it with “the notice period required in your contract” or “the standard notice period for your type of position” and the rest of it pretty much tracks I’d think? Because really the crux of the issue is not even really the notice period (which is discussed in US-focused math), but rather wanting to start farther away than that to get a break in between. “Can you ask to start not literally the first business day after your notice period at OldJob ends?” is the real question.
      I’m sure there are locations and jobs for which the answer would be “no”, but other than unreasonable employers – which exist everywhere – or roles that clearly stated a specific need for a particular start date much earlier in the process, I’d be surprised to hear that it’s completely outside the norm to even ask everywhere except the US. For this to be “the most US-centric” thing ever, you’re either saying all positions outside the US always have an absolute iron-clad start date listed and you better not even apply if you can’t start then OR all non-US employers will look at you like you have three heads if you suggest your own start date/indicate your availability to start, rather than them telling you a start date and you take it or leave it. Are you really saying that’s how it works everywhere else?

      That’s before even getting to the part where it’s a US site with a US author, so what’d you expect?

    7. L*

      Ridiculousness of this comment aside, the OP used “miles” as their distance measurement, which is a pretty clear indicator they’re in the US. Should Alison have given them (likely useless) advice based on another country’s context just to keep you from being snitty about it?

      1. UKLu*

        Sorry, we use miles in the UK as well! But regarding the letter itself, I agree with other posters that it could apply to a UK work situation and have myself negotiated start dates to fit in some leave, time to move house and even time to get married! (Standard notice period in the UK, in my experience, is 4 weeks in a permanent role and 2 in a temp job.)

        I have a feeling the disgruntled poster is a troll. However I would like to say that, as a Brit, I love this blog and read daily. I marvel at the differences in work culture between countries and have learnt how lucky we are in the UK in that respect. It doesn’t take too much brain power to be able to adapt situations to your own circumstances and make use of the brilliant advice given here.

        Thank you Alison for such an insightful and helpful site. I apologise on behalf of that very rude person and hope you don’t think all brits are like that!

        1. londonedit*

          Seconding all of this. As a fellow Brit I really appreciate most of the advice Alison gives, and if it’s a topic that really is US-centric (like health insurance, or exempt/non-exempt, or whatever) then I can either skip over that post if it’s really not going to interest me, or quite often I actually enjoy reading those because it gives an insight into a different working culture. Often we only hear the horror stories about US working practices – ‘you can be fired without warning!’ – and we don’t hear about the nuances and cultural differences behind it all. That’s where this blog is so fascinating.

          I agree that the poster above is probably a troll who hasn’t read much of this site – if they had, they’d realise how useful and applicable the advice really is.

    8. MayLou*

      What’s really weird about this comment, apart from the rudeness, is that it isn’t even accurate. There was an entire post not too long ago about new laws relating to time off for Covid related reasons, that was far more USA specific. Or all the posts about overtime pay, or basically any other law. Then the more cultural things like how much paid time off is standard, or dress codes. This commenter can’t have read much of this site if this post is the most USA-centric they’ve seen…

  3. Velawciraptor*

    Ideally, your interviewer should start discussing this with you in the interview. We always wrap up with our expected timeline for making a decision and ask candidates for an estimate of how long they’d need before they start. Most of our candidates have to move cross-country, so we’re generally understanding of the need for a month or so of lead time.

    I know not all employers are the same, but it sometimes perplexes me to realize that not everyone takes what I assume are common-sense steps to make things easier for everyone.

    1. letter writer*

      In my experience with this agency, start dates are always discussed with seasonal/temp jobs, since they have set start/end dates, but it seems like things are more flexible with permanent jobs (I’ve interviewed for a few). In the interview we talked about furlough etc. but not about specific start dates – which makes me think they’d be willing to be flexible about it!

  4. hayling*

    I started a month after signing for my current job. 2 weeks notice, plus 2 weeks of downtime.

    One thing that can be a little tricky is if your new company has certain days they like employees to start. At my current job, they start employees every other Monday so they can all get onboarded together.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, my current job held new employee orientations on designated Mondays, so I didn’t start for nearly a month after I got the offer, but it worked out fine.

    2. Just J.*

      Another thing to consider is when your health insurance starts – that is if it starts upon employment and not 90 days out or so. Some companies can add you at any time. Others it is only at the first of the month. I timed one job start to be the 29th of the month (or something like that) so I could catch that first-of-the-month enrollment date.

      1. Risha*

        Paydates are worth considering, too. If you time it wrong, you might go more a month or more after your start date before getting a check, which can really hurt if you took a week or two in between.

        1. Handwashing Hero*

          Uh this. This got me in my last transition. My new job only paid “once a month”, who does that anymore??? I took a week break and was coming from a job that paid biweekly. I joined just after payday so went ~6 weeks without a paycheck. Would not recommend.

          This will be something I add to my ask list in the future, how is the position paid.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            My current company only pays once a month! I’ve also worked for another company that operated that way. But a big difference between badoldjob and currentnicejob is that currentjob recognizes that depending on someone’s start date they might have to wait a while to get a normally-scheduled paycheck, and make sure to run special payroll so no new hire ever goes without. They also started insurance from day one, another thing I really appreciated.

            But I recognize this isn’t necessarily standard so absolutely keep this in mind when looking to start a new job.

          2. Miso*

            Huh, another huge cultural difference.
            A friend of mine had a job once that paid twice a month and that was so bizarre to me, like, why…? I’d never heard of it before (or after).

            Heck, even my parents gave me my pocket money once a month as soon as I was a bit older.

          3. MayLou*

            Once a month pay is pretty standard in the UK, although not universal. The benefits system (which tops up low incomes) assumes it is universal, which causes people a lot of problems sometimes. I think monthly pay is probably more common in white-collar jobs and weekly or fortnightly pay in blue-collar, but as far as I know retail is often paid monthly (certainly was for my retail jobs). It’s interesting how this stuff differs and the consequences of that.

            1. londonedit*

              Definitely, and everything else is pretty much set up for monthly pay – most mortgages and rent are paid monthly, utility bills are paid monthly, etc (and another difference – the vast majority of people in the UK pay their bills by direct debit, so the money just goes straight out of your account when the bill is due, and it’s all on a set date). The whole thing is set up for people being paid monthly, as that’s the norm, so the idea of having to budget with two pay days a month is really strange to me. One of those pay cheques (again, I call them pay cheques but almost no one receives an actual cheque in the UK, it’s all done by direct bank transfer) would pretty much be wiped out by my monthly rent, and then I’d have very little cash until two weeks later when the next lot of money arrived!

            2. Alex (UK)*

              Ahh, retail.. my mum works retail and they get paid 12 times a year.. but it’s not quite monthly. They get paid on the 3rd Friday of the month.. which most of the time means there’s a 4-week wait betwen paydates, but 3-4 times per year it’s a 5-week wait. It’s really difficult to budget for – those 5-week waits mean that scheduled monthly payments/direct debits/automatic rent payemtns etc are taken before the pay is deposited into the bank account. Luckily my mum only works for “spending” money and bills are otherwise taken care of with my dad’s income, but for many of her colleagues who live paycheck-to-paycheck, those 5-week waits are a real killer.

              1. londonedit*

                I work in a ‘white collar’ job and that’s how it works for us as well. We’re paid on the last Friday of the month, so sometimes there are five weeks between pay days and sometimes there are four. It is a pain! What’s also a pain is when they run payroll a week early in December, because the office shuts down over Christmas, and then the last Friday of January is the 29th, 30th or 31st. Six weeks! After Christmas! That is a real struggle (though quite an incentive to rein in the spending).

          4. Beth Jacobs*

            I love being paid monthly because all my bills are monthly so it makes it much easier to budget. Get paid, pay all my bills immediately, autotransfer to savings and then the rest is mine to spend.
            I know it’s really hard the first month if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but in the long run, it seems more reasonable to build a buffer rather than choose a job based on how often they run payroll.

          5. ItalianBunny*

            Lol, sorry but i couldn’t help myself from laughing so hard. (Luckily my coworkers are still in lunch break).
            Here in Italy we all get paid once a month. The day may vary (it could be the 1st, the 10th, 15th or the 27th depending on the employer and if you’re government / public administration or not) so lol xD there’s at least a country where it is done like this.
            Honestly, i’d be curious to try and see how my budgeting would go if we’d switch from monthly to weekly payments.

          6. ItalianBunny*

            Lol!! sorry, i can’t help but laughing at your baffling about monthly payouts.
            XD Here in Italy we’re all paid monthly. The exact day changes by the employer and/if you’re public admin/government or not but it’s always once a month.
            To be honest i always wondered how it’d feel to be paid by the week.
            Anyone that has experienced both have any insight?

          7. Beth Jacobs*

            All my bills are monthly, so I find it much more convenient to budget with a monthly paycheck. I get that that first month can be rough if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but after that first month, it doesn’t really matter.

      2. Janey-Jane*

        I was supposed to start a job once on the 2nd (a Monday), and they started benefits on the 1st. Since I was salaried, they called me up and asked if they could start me on the 1st, so I wouldn’t have to wait 30 days for benefits.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      My organization had me start on the the first Monday of the two week pay period so it seems most new hires start only every two weeks for their convenience.

  5. ThatGirl*

    Back when I moved from my first job to my second job, I was also moving a few hundred miles from Kentucky to Chicagoland. I asked for three weeks – two to close out my last job and one to move/get settled. And they accepted, and I don’t know that I could have gone much longer without a paycheck anyway, but man, it was a frantic three weeks. The good news was I’d already been looking at apartments in the area I was moving to and only myself to pack up in a 1BR apartment. It would take a miracle and three weeks straight of work to pack up my current 3BR house quickly, yikes.

  6. Parcae*

    I moved a similar distance for my new job in March. My role’s not particularly senior, but I’m not entry level either. Before getting the official offer, I told the hiring manager that I would really appreciate extra time to give notice at my old job and move, so she wasn’t shocked when I later asked for almost seven weeks.

    I know she would have preferred I start sooner, but without a big business reason to rush it, she could afford to accommodate me. I went into the discussion thinking that four weeks (two weeks notice, two weeks to move) would be my bare minimum. I am very, very grateful my new job was willing to be patient. I got in some precious family time before the pandemic shut everything down, and I didn’t have to start a new job already burnt out.

    I also moved cross country for my previous job, five years ago, and let that employer push me into zero break– I worked my two week notice, drove down over the weekend, and started my new job on Monday. Never. Again.

    1. CTT*

      I did the “work my final two weeks, move on a Saturday, start work on Monday” thing, except my employer didn’t push me into it, I was just 23 and moving in with family and thought “well it’s not like I’m moving a whole household, what else would I do with my time when I get there except start working!” (I was also kind of an idiot. But I learned a valuable lesson!)

  7. Mike*

    I had one job where I was under a full time contract for 6 more weeks when I accepted a job. The contract was such that I was basically waiting to engage the entire time and very little needed to be during “normal” business hours. But I explained the situation and asked the new employer what they’d like to do. I started right after the contract ended.

    I’ve had other jobs where I asked for 3 weeks so I could handle moving or just have a down week. It all works out really.

  8. HR Exec Popping In*

    Is your new organization providing you with any relocation benefits? Some may provide time off for dealing with the move and even some reimbursement of expenses or a lump sum relocation allowance. It does not hurt to ask, especially if they want you to start quickly.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I was going to say this and would add, even if they aren’t offering any kind of formal benefit, it may be possible to negotiate some time off after start if they want the OP to start earlier than they realistically can with a move.

    2. letter writer*

      They are! I don’t know much about it yet (still waiting on the official offer/HR paperwork) but I know there’s an option for either itemized reimbursement or a lump sum. Definitely going to be helpful with this kind of move.

  9. CupcakeCounter*

    I’ve always negotiated start dates. I accepted a new job in November and set a start date after the new year. After I was laid off due to Covid, I accepted a new job shortly after Memorial Day with a start date of late July. While neither were overly thrilled with the delay, I laid out my reasons (holidays and child care issues) and the response was “that makes sense” and they accepted.

  10. Badger*

    Is this feasible if you’re working part-time or contract for the organization you will be working for? For example, you’re being brought on full-time from a part-time or contract job.

    I had an organization that didn’t even want to give me time to think about the offer. I can’t imagine they would have given me a few days to take care of personal business.

    1. WellRed*

      A good company will give you at least a few days to think over the offer and to make arrangements to transition to FT or permanent work. What if you had child care issues or other committments?

      1. Badger*

        That is a very good point. It was a pretty toxic/dysfunctional work environment so sometimes I double check that the craziness that started to become normal isn’t actually a standard business practice.

  11. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Be willing to be a bit flexible, but definitely negotiate a time that works for both you and the new employer. Figure 2 weeks notice for your current job, and an additional week or so to travel and get settled enough to start the new job. Most companies won’t decline their offer if you ask for more time than they expected, unless it’s something unreasonable.

    1. anon just to be safe*

      Yes, when I last changed jobs I had to give four weeks notice at my old employer in order to receive my vacation payout and the new job really wanted me in office in time to help with an event they had that was about six weeks from the day I gave notice — they actually did speed up their process to get me an offer quickly because they wanted me so much (and upped their salary a few thousand from what they initially said was their max) and I badly wanted out of my old job so I went ahead and agreed to literally stop working at old job on the Friday and start on the next Monday.

      With hindsight I wish I had either negotiated a long weekend or some unpaid time off after the event at new employer was over (my vacation payout would have covered the unpaid time) but I don’t regret it that much because I really wanted to move to that new job and I appreciated that they hurried their own process up to make it possible for both of us to get what we needed.

  12. Cheeto Puff*

    The last time I moved to a new state, there was a new employee orientation that started in mid-June that they wanted me to participate in, but it would have been tough for me to relocate in time to find a June 1 lease. Because new employees from all over the country participate in orientation, they were already planning to put several people up for a week at a hotel near the office. I negotiated to start on day 1 of orientation, stay in the hotel, hunt for an apartment during the orientation downtime, then take two weeks off unpaid to go back to my original state and handle the move to my new apartment with a July 1 lease. It was… bananas, but my partner and I got it done (he packed up the whole house while I was away for orientation!).

  13. Betty*

    Depending on context, you might also be able to offer to start remotely or as a part-time consultant. Especially right now, working remotely might let you stretch out the timeline on a move to something more feasible. I left a job in higher ed where leaving before the end of the semester would have not merely burned a bridge but scorched the earth to the horizon, and some jobs I interviewed with were open to my consulting for the 6 weeks until I was available.

    1. PostDocErgoProctorDoc*

      I’m basically in this position now. I’m working for a university, but looking to get out of higher ed. I’m hoping I can either negotiate a start date after the end of term or to juggle both for a while.

  14. OyHiOh*

    Oh how timely!

    I have a phone call this afternoon that is probably a verbal job offer. I thought I might have to withdraw because the interviewer mentioned needing to start “pretty quickly” and I’ve got Reasons for needing three weeks before starting. Interviewer came back with more flexibility than I expected from original comment so, we’ll see. Anyway, helpful and timely advice for my afternoon!

  15. Jen*

    My first job was only about 1.5 to 2 hours from where I was living. I found an apartment but there was about 4 to 6 weeks between when the job wanted me and the apartment would be available. The interviewer knew a soon to be co-worker who had a room to rent and could do it on a short term basis. If there is a gap could be worth asking if they have suggestions. In my case i didn’t ask. They suggested.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think it’s much more likely that they’ll do that sort of thing when you’re young/just out of college. They expect that you’re inexperienced, and a lot of people will try to be kind. They probably wouldn’t expect that a 30 year old would need similar assistance.

  16. Lady Heather*

    I want to add to Alison’s advice that these things are highly dependent on where you are – in the US the customary (or is it statutory?) notice period is 2 weeks and employers will probably expect you’re able to start at 2-4 weeks. In Europe, statutory notice periods are frequently 1-3 months (differs between countries, sometimes tied to seniority, etc – Google is your friend) and hiring employers definitely won’t expect you to be available within 4-6 weeks.

    1. Lady Heather*

      I mean, of course, that if your country’s statutory notice period is “4 weeks starting on your next (monthly) payday”, the hiring manager in your country knows that any employed candidates won’t be available for ~6 weeks.

      I’m not speaking for all of Europe saying “all managers in every country expect to wait 4-6 weeks regardless of statutory period”.

  17. I'm A Little Teapot*

    It also depends on your field. Both times I moved for jobs (both long distance), it was in a field with well known and very defined busy seasons. The flexibility during busy season is much less, because they’re hiring because they need people, NOW! I moved outside of those busy seasons, so waiting a month or more wasn’t an issue for the employer.

    My current field doesn’t have those busy seasons. But it also means that asking for a longer period between jobs is harder.

  18. A Simple Narwhal*

    I remember I was so nervous the first time I negotiated a start date! I’d always been made to believe that I should be eternally grateful that a company was willing to hire me and as such needed to say yes to whatever they said and not “annoy” them by being difficult with requests or pushback of any kind.

    But a good company is going to want to work with you and find a mutually agreeable start time. There’s no sense to put yourself out to just “make it work” if most places wouldn’t be bothered by a week or two swing to the start date.

  19. Free Meerkats*

    When I last changed jobs in 1991, I asked for 4 weeks for a previously planned family reunion halfway across the country. They agreed with no problem. I gave 4 weeks notice at my then current job, did the turnover during the first two weeks, then took the planned vacation time for the following two weeks. So no unpaid time off between jobs. And health care etc benefits started the beginning of the month after you started at the new job, so I started work on the 30th and had benefits 2 days later. That was serendipity, I didn’t plan it, but it’s something to think about when you change.

    Most industries and most workplaces will work with you here, especially considering the 1000 mile move. My previous one was an 850 mile move and I got a 5 week out start date.

  20. GigglyPuff*

    As someone else said also remember when health insurance kicks in and paychecks start. My last job search I had to look at moving 1500 miles away to the Midwest U.S. in the dead of winter, driving my own truck, when I’ve never driven in snow before or a moving truck. Plus my current job health insurance lasted until the end of the month if I worked through the 15th of that month, but the new job only offered health insurance for the month if you started work on the first working day of the month. And I couldn’t afford to any lapse cause of medications and also, didn’t want a lapse if I was driving that far, and I couldn’t afford COBRA. Ugh, that was the worst, I was so stressed cause I also was vesting in my retirement account around the same time, sooo many emails to HR. I ended up not being able to take it for various reasons, but it was stressful.

    So anyway, if it’s important to you, don’t forget to ask about paydays and health insurance coverage!

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      Something that might be helpful for folks in a similar situation to know is that you can elect COBRA retroactively. So if you are just looking at a lapse of a week or two in between jobs, and something catastrophic happens while you’re not insured, you can go back and elect COBRA to be covered. Obviously this won’t work if you have weekly treatments or something and absolutely can’t go a day without coverage, but many people can order meds and things strategically so they don’t need to make any insurance claims during the gap.

      1. AnonInTheCity*

        And it might go without saying but this is obviously only helpful if you have the money to afford COBRA if you should need it.

        1. Natalie*

          Of course if something catastrophic happens you’re probably chosing between spending money on COBRA and spending money on the catastrophe out of pocket. I’ve yet to see the health plan that would make the latter a better deal.

  21. Rafflesia Reaper*

    I moved from one coast to another for my last job, and was upfront that I needed 3 weeks from offer letter to start date, and that wasn’t a problem for them.

    The bigger thing to worry about — Make sure they know you have housing set up already and that your move is a foregone conclusion, otherwise they may be worried that you’ll flake out.

    1. letter writer*

      That’s good advice, thanks! I have housing lined up that is contingent with the job offer (I’ll sign the housing paperwork once the official job offer comes through). I’m thinking of asking for 3 or 4 weeks from the official offer, so it’s good to hear that that worked out for you

  22. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ooooh I got an offer and was moved within my 2 weeks notice period but that was only 400 miles, I live alone and I’m a savage tbh. I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone with 1. assets [a house to sell] 2. high expectations of their living arrangements, I live wherever I live I don’t seriously care as long as it’s not actively dangerous to park my car outside, or walk between my car and the door.

    I’d certainly suggest you take more time than that though because renting sight unseen requires you to put down deposits and use courier services, which adds up time as well! I’d feel much better in the 3-4 week time period. 2 weeks to wrap up your job and the other 2 weeks to fully focus on relocating.

    I specialize in being needed “yesterday”, so that’s another reason why my story is a lot more of a high speed maneuver than the average one. So it depends so much on your expertise and what the new employer needs.

  23. Babycarrot*

    I am starting a new job in two weeks. I got the call in mid-july for a start on august 10th, a week before my scheduled 2 weeks vacation at former job. I asked if it would be possible to start after my vacation (august 31) or, even better, after labor day so I would be available for my son’s first week of school (there are some half days during the first week for integration.) HR called my future manager who had no problem to push my start date by a month. So I gave my notice at former job, am now in vacation, will be available next week for school and will be refreshed for new job after labor day!

  24. Coffee, please*

    I’d also assume you could negotiate some work-from-home time in today’s pandemic climate to give you more time to navigate relocating. We recently had a pretty senior staff member start working from Ohio (on midwestern time) and we’re in California. He did so for maybe a couple months before he relocated here.

  25. Sunshine Daisies*

    With that in mind, if you have a start date in mind (or a date you can’t start before), how long before that date should you start looking? How do these calculations change when you get close to the holidays?

  26. Anonymous At a University*

    There are times academia drives me nuts, but the set start times and dates are one of the few things I really like! (They’re also often included in the job posts or at least the interviews). I got told I had this job in early June the year I got it, and I did have to move 1500 miles and arrange housing, plus a new bank account, ID, etc., but at least I knew I had until August 15th to do so. My job also offered monetary assistance with relocation. You don’t get as much of a break, of course, if you’re taking a job that starts in January instead of August, but at least then you still know months ahead of time that you have a specific date coming.

Comments are closed.