When you’ve gone through the interview process and received a verbal job offer, you’re excited to get started. But then you have to wait for the official written offer. This period can feel like forever when you’re anxious to get going. So, how long should you expect to wait before HR finalizes the details and puts the offer in writing?
The Typical Job Offer Timeline
There is no single standard for how long HR takes to finalize a job offer, as every company has its own processes. However, most experts agree the typical timeframe is 1-3 weeks from when you receive the verbal offer to getting the official written offer.
Here’s a look at the common stages of the job offer process and how long each tends to take:
- Verbal offer – Day 0: You complete your final interview and the hiring manager calls you the same day or within 24 hours to make a verbal offer contingent on background checks.
- Paperwork sent – Day 1-5: Within 1-5 days after the verbal offer, HR sends you the written offer letter and new hire paperwork to review and complete.
- Background check – Day 2-5: The company initiates the background check within 2-5 days after you’ve signed and returned your paperwork.
- Written offer – Day 7-21: Within 1-3 weeks from the verbal offer, you receive the final written offer from HR.
So in total, it typically takes 1-3 weeks from verbal offer to written offer, with the background check being the longest part of the process.
What Extends the Job Offer Timeline
While 1-3 weeks is standard, there are some circumstances that can extend the job offer process. Here are some of the top reasons HR may take longer to finalize your job offer:
- Pre-employment screenings – Extensive background, reference, credit checks can add time.
- Third party vendors – Waiting on external background check companies can cause delays.
- Hiring manager availability – The hiring manager needs to review your paperwork and sign the offer letter.
- Salary negotiations – Going back and forth on salary and benefits details extends the process.
- Legal review – Some companies have legal review every offer, which adds a step.
- Leadership approvals – Getting signatures from senior execs and stakeholders.
- Job requisition issues – The job requisition not being properly closed out can stall the offer.
- Coordinating start date – Agreeing on a start date between you, your manager and HR.
- Internal delays – Missed internal deadlines or lack of urgency by HR or hiring manager.
Most of these factors may add only a few days. But if multiple issues come up, it can stretch the job offer process out to a month or longer in some cases.
Waiting for Your Written Job Offer
The waiting period between the verbal and written job offer can feel like an eternity when you’re excited to start your new role. Here are some tips on how to handle the waiting period:
- Ask for a timeline from HR so you know what to expect.
- Continue your job search in case anything falls through.
- Work to wrap up projects and transition your work at your current job.
- Don’t give notice at your current job until you have the written offer.
- Use the time to research the company, team, and role.
- Discuss salary and benefits to negotiate if needed.
- Check in with the HR contact and hiring manager periodically.
- Be patient and know delays are common during the job offer process.
While you likely want to get started right away in your new job, it’s important to let the job offer process run its course and not pressure or rush the company. Most delays are simply due to logistics and standard procedures. If it goes more than 3-4 weeks, it is reasonable to politely check in on status.
When to Follow Up on Your Job Offer
At what point is it appropriate to follow up on a pending job offer? Here are some general guidelines on when to check in:
- After 1 week – Check in if you have not received paperwork or a start date.
- After 2 weeks – Follow up if the background check seems to be taking longer than expected.
- After 3 weeks – Touch base if you still don’t have a written offer.
- After 4 weeks – Contact your HR representative if it’s been a month without a written offer.
Some tips on following up on your job offer:
- Email the HR rep handling your offer or the hiring manager
- Say you are excited to receive the offer and start date
- Ask if there is anything you can do to help move the process along
- See if they can provide an update on timing or any hold ups
- Be polite – avoid demanding urgency or making accusations
- If you still don’t receive a response, follow up again after a few days
In most cases, the company simply needs a friendly nudge to get the ball rolling again. But if they are nonresponsive after multiple follow-ups, take it as a potential red flag.
Withdrawing a Job Offer
In rare cases, the company may withdraw the verbal job offer if something changes on their end. Common reasons offers get rescinded include:
- The position is no longer available due to hiring freezes or budget issues.
- Another candidate re-enters the mix and is chosen over you.
- You misrepresented something in your application materials or interviews.
- Unsatisfactory results from the background check.
- The company learns new information it feels makes you unsuitable.
- You try to aggressively renegotiate salary or benefits.
If the offer does get pulled, don’t panic. In most cases it’s not a reflection on you, but changing circumstances with the company. The best plan is to be gracious, discuss why with the company, and proceed with your job search elsewhere.
Can You Negotiate a Job Offer?
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to negotiate your job offer. In fact, not negotiating could leave money on the table. Here are some tips to negotiate effectively:
- Have a number in mind ahead of time based on market data
- Consider non-monetary perks like extra PTO, work from home, etc.
- Discuss areas to negotiate on the verbal offer call
- Negotiate politely and with reasoning, not demands
- Provide market data, metrics on your value to support requests
- Be willing to compromise – negotiations are give and take
Just be mindful that negotiations can impact timelines. Aggressive demands may rub the company the wrong way. Keep communication positive and let the process play out if needed. Don’t negotiate just for the sake of negotiating.
Accepting the Job Offer
Once you finally receive that official written job offer, congratulations! Now you need to decide whether to accept the offer. Consider factors like:
- Are you fully satisfied with the salary, benefits, start date?
- Does this role seem like the best fit for your career goals?
- Do you believe you can be successful and grow at this company?
- Does the work seem interesting and meaningful to you?
Declining offers is common if you get a better competing offer or role. But don’t decline just because something new and shiny comes along. Make informed decisions that support your long term career versus short term excitement.
Once you accept, notify your current employer and share your anticipated last day. Be positive and grateful for your time with the company when giving notice. Offer to document processes and transition your work. Knowing how to gracefully resign can ensure you maintain those professional relationships.
The job offer process is filled with excitement but also anxious waiting. Understanding the typical 1-3 week timeline helps set expectations. Delays are common, but follow up if it goes longer. With the right communication, patience and persistence, you can get the written job offer you’ve been waiting for.