Hiring is a challenging process that takes time and resources. After identifying the right candidate, you would want to take a breath and congratulate yourself for surviving searching, countless interviews, and rigorous vetting.

But hold on a minute! The most crucial part is just starting—securing their commitment and starting them on the job at the appropriate time, which is often ASAP. Delaying the start date may result in several issues—be advised of these areas of concern

The Longer the Wait, the More Things Can Go Wrong

The longer the time between an accepted job offer and the start date, the higher the likelihood that things can go wrong. Counteroffers may surface, they may change hearts, or another opportunity could present itself. Have your candidate start ASAP.

My advice here? Do not let too much time pass, or you could be back to square one.

Two weeks after the offer or acceptance seems standard, but this is not always the case. Start dates can be as far as four to six months. However, this is only reasonable if the candidate is completing a college degree or has an employment contract that needs to be fulfilled.

Here are some tips that will help you decide on the start date:

  1. Set a realistic start date.

Set a reasonable start date that allows them to prepare for their role adequately. Consider factors such as relocation, notice period, and availability. This start date should also allow ample time for the candidate to notify their current employer and settle their affairs before starting. Keep communication open and consistent.

The start date should also be definitive, clearly stating the date, month, and year.  

  1. Use an “on or before” approach.

Instead of specifying a particular start date, use an “on or before” approach. This gives the employee the flexibility to start earlier if they are available. For instance, you can state, “Start date: on or before June 30, 2023.”

This allows the candidate the ability to sign the offer letter with a worst case scenario date. Often employees do not know if their present employer will let them work out their notice, or release them immediately.  With “on or before” you may get your desired employee sooner.

  1. Be flexible.

Be open to adjusting the start date if the candidate has a compelling reason for delay. These reasonable reasons include completing a college degree, fulfilling an employment contract, finishing an ongoing project, or relocating to a new city. 

One other reasonable and often wise choice is for the employee to take a vacation week between jobs to start their new one fresh. 

Start dates are a critical aspect of the hiring process. By setting a clear and definitive start date and establishing flexibility, you can minimize risks and ensure a smooth transition for your new hires. Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t let too much time pass before your candidate starts.

Questions? Contact Dan Simmons at dan@continentalsearch.com 

About the Author

Dan Simmons is the founder and President of Continental Search, America’s leading recruiting team in the animal sciences. Dan founded Continental Search in 1996 and focused exclusively on the animal nutrition industry in 2002. He is a Certified Personnel Consultant through the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) and a member of the American Feed Industry Association.

Dan has placed over 650 professionals throughout his career. Some of his most significant were a President of a leading animal health and nutrition company and Directors of Dairy Nutrition for multiple regional feed companies.

For the latest job opportunities, you may connect with Dan on LinkedIn or email him at dan@continentalsearch.com.