As we all know the current market place is solidly candidate driven at this point (no matter if companies admit it or not), and as always happens when one party in a relationship (hiring company & future employee) has more market power they can choose to abuse that power like candidates did in the late 90’s and companies did from 2002-2004.
However, since then most HR departments have done two things that keep some of this from ratcheting upward including forcing hiring managers to stay within the boundaries with very little variation on topics like vacation, up front bonuses, etc. and requiring them to stick to their internal equity numbers for hiring salaries (even when it works against them, but that’s another blog). So with only small areas of movement on the big points of the negotiations candidates have taken to dragging out the start date timeline (whether it is for real, perceived or imagined difficulty with the job change).
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with a longer start date (3 wks & under is optimal 4 wks & over draws red flags), and certainly there are some very valid reasons for one. However, the problem occurs when there isn’t an obvious reason and it can be troublesome for all involved. Understand that at this point in the placement process companies simply want to know (with certainty) that they have acquired the needed talent, that it’s committed and will arrive on time (think UPS and you’re the package) without any ugly surprises (counteroffers and acceptance of other jobs that were in process in again common place).
So what can you do to quell their fears? First off understand their thinking, and do what you can to explain the reasoning behind the delayed start date, while showing your commitment to coming. Of course it should go without saying (but I can’t since I’m a recruiter) that you do everything in your power to get there as soon as possible because whether you believe it or not your employment clock with a company starts upon acceptance and any actions taken during this time will impact your future career.