COVID-19 Delays Start Date for New Employees

The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it many challenges related to career search and development. One involves start dates for new hires.

I spoke with someone whose son, a recent college grad, had accepted a job at his “dream” company. But he hasn’t heard if the start date is still on, if it has been moved to a later date, or if the position is even going to be filled now due to the state’s lockdown of non-essential businesses. I reached out to some career search experts to ask what they would advise someone in that position to do.

The first thing to remember is that this has nothing to do with you or your qualifications for the position. “There may be several reasons for this: Emails may be going to a mailbox that is not being monitored by the employer, or the employees/managers responsible for hiring are either away sick or furloughed, and no messages are being read,” says Lisa Schmidt, a certified career coach and founder of Worksphere Consulting.

“Ultimately, all each of us can do, including this candidate, is understand that many things are disrupted in the working world right now, and to focus on what is within each of our control.”

So, what can you do if you or someone you know is awaiting word on the status of a start date?

–Reach out. “Contact the person who did the interview and the offer; this may be one or two people,” Schmidt says. “This is a polite check-in and request for an update, expressing ongoing interest in the position.”

Ken Coleman, author of “The Proximity Principle” and host of the nationally syndicated “The Ken Coleman Show,” agrees and stresses that honesty and communication are key. “There’s nothing wrong with emailing your contact and inquiring directly,” Coleman says. “It’s OK to acknowledge the awkward situation where both sides probably aren’t sure if the job still exists.”

–Keep all options open. Having a backup plan is essential, the career pros say.

“Start working toward the worst scenario. If that means starting the job search again from scratch, that’s OK. The goal is to be prepared for every outcome,” Coleman says.

“It may even be OK to hint to the employer that you’re prepared to move on if necessary if the job has been threatened by the circumstances. They may be very impressed by your planning and motivated to let you be the first one in the door once the opportunity allows.”

As Ty Stewart, CEO of Simple Life Insure, points out, “The best-case scenario is that he lands another opportunity better than the previous job offer. The worst-case scenario is that his dream job disappears and he can’t find anything at all in the job market. Let’s hope he lands somewhere in the middle.”

–Stay in touch. Even if you continue applying for other positions, don’t let the “dream company” forget about you. “Where possible, cultivate an ongoing relationship with this employer, who may be overwhelmed with other priorities right now, and due to current circumstances, is delayed in providing a set hiring date,” Schmidt says.

–Review your contract. Can’t reach your contact? If you and the employer previously signed an employment contract, you could explore what that might mean if the job is no more. “There may be provisions for what to do if this becomes a breach of contract if there is no information to go on, depending in which jurisdiction the offer was made,” Schmidt says. “Only a legal expert can clarify this.”

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that while immensely challenging, this pandemic isn’t a permanent situation. “This happened to many, many graduates during the last recession,” says Stewart. “It’s painful, but the situation isn’t hopeless, and it will pass.”


(Article written by Kathleen Furore)