Is this job offer formal enough for me to give notice?
November 2, 2017 2:40 AM   Subscribe

I received an informal job offer for a job I'm really excited for. I've negotiated salary and a start date. Can I give notice at my current job without having the formal offer letter in hand?

The informal offer came as an email over a week ago, and in the mean time, I've been able to negotiate salary and a start date. I've been in touch with HR and have completed some I-9 paperwork and have started the background check process. I stopped by the new office yesterday to meet with HR and was told that they just signed off on the formal offer letter and I should be receiving it in the mail this week. So great!

I know all the advice about not resigning from a job until you have a formal offer in hand, but is all of the above formal enough to count?

I'd really like to give my notice today, as my boss will be in the office and we'll be able to have a face-to-face conversation. Tomorrow, my boss will be out of the office (though reachable by phone), and all next week they will be at a conference out of the country (and likely only reachable by email).

I don't want to wait two more weeks to give notice in person, and preferably do not want to give notice by email. If I wait to give notice, my two weeks will overlap with some vacation time I have coming up, and I'd likely have to go back to the office for a few days after my vacation time (no thanks!). This delay will not interfere with my negotiated start date for the new job, but will cut into my brief time off between jobs.

What's my best move here? Can I give notice now, or should I be conservative and wait?
posted by stripesandplaid to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Remember that giving a full two weeks' notice, though considerate, is not mandatory. I'd wait.
posted by dywypi at 2:52 AM on November 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would ask that the HR office scan and email you a copy of the formal offer today. There's no good reason they wouldn't be able to do that if they've already signed and mailed it.
posted by Karaage at 3:07 AM on November 2, 2017 [16 favorites]

Hell no. Full stop.
posted by JPD at 3:10 AM on November 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

And I say that having been in a similar place to where you are now and the offer getting pulled for reasons totally unrelated to me or the group I was going to work for. Even up to “ the letter is written “
posted by JPD at 3:13 AM on November 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd wait for the letter and hope nonetheless to work out an easy departure. Your manager may be flexible on how that last two weeks gets used--they're not necessarily required to keep you working to the end of your separation date and may just ask you to be available for questions. I'd also wonder if your employee handbook has something to say about vacation time getting paid out after your separation (e.g. it may require that two weeks notice), but it may be normal to use some of it to cover your two weeks as well.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:15 AM on November 2, 2017

Just wait and give notice by email if you have to. Risk of awkward notice email vs risk of being unemployed. No contest.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 3:26 AM on November 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

You can, but you shouldn't.

If you don't wait until you have the contract in hand, you take additional risk, but receive no reward.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:28 AM on November 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wait. Even with an offer letter in most of the US, iirc, stuff happens.
posted by tilde at 3:58 AM on November 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I stopped by the new office yesterday to meet with HR and was told that they just signed off on the formal offer letter and I should be receiving it in the mail this week.

Small red flag: You were physically standing in front of HR, they said the letter was completed, and they were going to mail it to you instead of just handing it to you right then and there? What's up with that?
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:15 AM on November 2, 2017 [19 favorites]

I wouldn't give the notice until you have the letter. They should be able to email it to you; that is pretty normal these days, or just wait for it to arrive.

Giving notice by email isn't completely ideal, but people do it all the time, and I've had to do it without any issues. We just had someone leave and they did everything the wrong way (on purpose, I think, as a way of saying "screw you all"), from notice deliberately sent to the wrong person to not completing work they had committed to. It burned bridges and that person will never get a positive reference from anyone who worked with them, but otherwise everyone just shrugs and moves on. Even something as bad as that is a very small blip, and your sending notice by email doesn't come close.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 AM on November 2, 2017

I've been in your shoes before and trust me there are still too many variables to confidently give notice. DO NOT RESIGN YET.

If/when the offer is signed/sealed/delivered, just call them if you'd rather not email. If they're away on business your firm will likely cover their long-distance fees.
posted by lecorbeau at 6:14 AM on November 2, 2017

Seconding wait, you are still waiting on paperwork/background check. If you must, take some vacation time at your existing job now so you have the time off, if you think it might eat into your time between jobs.
posted by typecloud at 7:49 AM on November 2, 2017

Don't resign until you have signed the offer letter. I had an informal job offer, salary, and start date for a job recently and someone higher up on the totem (in this case, the Provost of a university) denied it and the offer was rescinded. Just wait until everything is squared away in the paperwork.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:17 AM on November 2, 2017

Definitely wait!
posted by freezer cake at 9:31 AM on November 2, 2017

Oh hell no.

Let me give you some perspective from the other side of the table: good hiring managers don't stop the recruiting process until the candidate is seated, at their desk, on their first day of work. And even then...

Do not resign until you have signed paperwork in your hand. Bad things can still happen after that point, but at least you'll be able to claim no-fault unemployment, which in my state is a requirement for collecting unemployment benefits.
posted by danny the boy at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2017

I wouldn't. It's not the norm, but I have had offers for things that fell through at the last second. It's rare, but a major problem when it does happen. Don't risk it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2017

Don't resign. I had a verbal offer, and they were going to make me a written offer, BUT one of the higher-ups pitched a fit about having a high-ranking person who didn't report to her, so the position was downgraded. I withdrew.

If you have to wait longer to give notice and start, that's on them for not getting you the paperwork in a timely fashion.
posted by dancing_angel at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2017

Well, your advice was pretty unanimous! Thank you, I waited and knew it was the right choice.
posted by stripesandplaid at 4:57 PM on November 2, 2017

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