You might be anxious to begin the new challenge of the job for which you've just received an offer letter. However, hold off on giving your two-week notice to your current employer until you and your new employer have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's concerning your new job. A number of pre-employment steps must be fulfilled before you can safely say you're ready to start your new job.
When you have been through your final interview and hear that magical five-word phrase, "We want to hire you," pat yourself on the back for a successful job search. But don't give your two-week notice at your current job until you have all the details about your new job. In many circumstances, the first job offer is conditional. That means you still have to pass a background check, prove you have a clean criminal record history and are eligible to work. These might sound like quick, easy, no-brainer steps, but anything could happen to make that conditional job offer suddenly disappear.
In 2004, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that four-fifths of employers were conducting criminal history checks on new hires. More than one-third of employers were ordering credit checks on new hires. By 2012, the National Consumer Law Center reported that nine out of 10 employers were conducting criminal history checks on new workers. The background check or criminal history report puts you just one step closer to a firm job offer, but not close enough to tender your resignation.
Illegal Substance Testing
Many employers also check for drugs, especially because drug-free workplace policies are so prevalent. A drug screening might be a quick and painless urinalysis conducted at a lab, or it might be something more extensive. Depending on the type of drug test, you could have the results in 10 minutes or a few days. The process could be delayed if you are prescribed medication that creates a positive result. In that case, your final job offer could be delayed until you can present evidence from your own physician or the employer's medical review board that you are not using illegal substances. In any case, do not give your two-week notice at your current job until you have passed the drug test at your new job.
If you're already employed, you might assume that your new employer knows you are eligible to work for a United States employer. But the company can't assume anything. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires that all employers document employment eligibility. You'll need to present your identification and work authorization, which could be a Social Security card, proof of U.S. citizenship or a work visa if you're a foreign national. If it's been awhile since you've changed jobs, you might need some time to find these documents.
It is important to be prudent and patient before handing in your two-week notice to your current employer. Wait until you have a firm job offer in hand and your new employer has received your written acceptance. Schedule your start date and then figure out how to write the two-week notice to your current employer. It's better to wait until you've completed all the steps necessary for starting your new job before you quit the job you have, or you could be out of two jobs.
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide
- Today: Most Firms Now Use Background Checks
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: I-0, Employment Eligibility Verification
- Pre-Employment Drug Screening: Intro to Drug Screening
- NPR: How Much Can Potential Employers Ask About You?
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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