At last! You can now go to the boss’s office and tell the conniving so-and-so exactly what you think of him – because you’ve got another job! The salary, starting date and everything the HR manager told you over the phone are just fine, and you’ve been assured that you will get their written offer by mail in a day or two.
But wait. Yes, it’s time for celebration – but at home, not in the office. Now, of all times, is the time to exercise extreme caution. Until you have accepted in writing the written offer from the Human Resources department, nothing can be taken for granted. There is no job until all of the contingencies have been examined and met. Contingencies? You may have overlooked the phrase ‘this offer is contingent upon…’ which is contained in nearly every job offer.
Contingencies are the safeguards put in place by the hiring company consisting of some or all of the following;
- Background check. This requirement is carried out by virtually every company in the country. They will verify your education, your employment history, and in many cases whether or not you have a criminal background.
- Professional qualifications. Applicants who have stated they hold a professional license, such as Professional Engineer (PE), or an academic qualification such as a Ph.D., or a professional designation such as Chartered Accountant (CA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) will be checked by the prospective employer to ensure such claims are true.
- Credit check – If the position involves handling money, controlling a budget, authorising payments and so on, it is very likely that the company will conduct a credit check on you.
- Drug screening. As part of their health and safety programs, many companies require you to pass a drug screen regardless of the job level, and others may periodically test every employee in the company. Note: Check if this applies to your industry (i.e. football clubs and sport).
Such checks take time, and may be held up if referees, former employers and other third parties are difficult to contact. As well as negotiating those potential pitfalls, you will have others in the form of salary, company benefits, a mutually acceptable starting date and various details that must be hammered out right from the start.
Can you resign now? Maybe. Remember, until you actually walk in through the front door of your new premises having signed and agreed on everything that has to be done, hold off telling your former boss what you think of him or her. Anything can happen – and sometimes does. Be savvy; take care – and make sure to create all your good luck.