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Should I Give 2 Weeks’ Notice Before Background Check?

Background checks have a way of making applicants nervous. After the initial phase of the interviewing process is complete, they begin to wonder how to wrap things up at their current job. The most common questions people ask themselves after getting a conditional offer are, “Should I give 2 weeks’ notice before a background check?,” Can I resign after receiving an offer letter?,” and “What might turn up in the ‘investigation’?”

Additional issues include how to go about asking an employer for a reference before handing in notice, how to clean up social media footprints, and whether it’s normal for companies to conduct extensive checks.

Consider the following points if you are in the process of seeking a new job while employed elsewhere. Keep in mind that the majority of businesses use one or more kinds of background checks during the hiring process.

Should I Give Notice Before a Background Check Is Completed?

The number one question among people seeking work is, “Should I give notice before a background check is completed?” The concise answer is “No.” You can never be sure how detailed a check a prospective employer is running or whether the investigation will uncover something relevant and potentially damaging to your prospects.

The general rule is to wait until you receive an unconditional offer after background checking is complete. Get the offer in writing, and be sure it’s signed by at least one representative of the company you’ll be working for.

Related Article: Can An Employer Fire You Without Notice?

Should You Hand In Your Notice On a Conditional Offer?

Conditional offers are quite common in the modern working world. The “conditions” can include many factors, but background checks are by far the most common ones. So, should you hand in your notice on a conditional offer?

As noted above, and following the general rule about waiting, it’s not wise to give notice based on a conditional offer, no matter how promising the situation appears to be.

When To Give Two Weeks’ Notice After a Job Offer

The term “job offer” is misleading because it usually refers to a conditional offer of employment. But applicants should be aware that, in the digital age, large numbers of HR (human resources) hiring agents have rescinded such offers for a number of reasons, including embarrassing social media activity by the applicant.

Knowing when to put in your two weeks’ notice after a job offer is a necessary skill. Only give notice after you have a written, unconditional offer in hand.

Related Article: Can You Take Back A 2-Week Notice?

What About References & Contracts?

Should you ever consider asking an employer for a reference before handing in notice? Some people do it, but the practice can appear unethical to employers who would prefer honesty.

Don’t worry about waiting to ask for references after giving notice. Unless you leave under a cloud of controversy or were failing in the position, most bosses understand the need for a positive letter of reference.

There is no law requiring a supervisor or manager to give a positive reference. The only out you have here is if your current employment contract includes a mandatory reference clause, but those are rare.

If you ask yourself, “Should I hand in my notice before signing a contract?,” use a bit of logic to arrive at the correct answer. If you sign a binding work contract after all background checks have been completed, then it’s safe to give notice at that time.

Related Article: What To Say When Giving Notice To Your Boss?

Background Checks

In the US, there are several components within standard background checks, and the ways employers handle them varies by industry.

First, there’s the criminal check, which attempts to uncover any illegal activity or convictions by job candidates.

The second kind of check is one that verifies claims made by applicants on their resumes and related paperwork regarding employment history, educational achievements, etc.

Other facets of the inquiries focus on social media presence, licenses and certifications, drug testing, and credit scores.

Be ready to explain any negatives that might show up during an investigation. Never assume that your reasoning will be enough. Some companies have very strict, non-negotiable policies about certain things.

For instance, if you’ve maintained a blog that features pornography, been arrested for shoplifting, or have multiple impaired-driving convictions on your record, expect to encounter an uphill battle for a good job.

For example, if you were convicted of drug possession at age 19 in another state, there’s a very good chance that a national database criminal check will turn up the information.

Likewise, if your resume says you graduated from ABC University with a degree in Accounting, employers will verify those kinds of claims with a non-criminal background check.

Making a misrepresentation in either case can turn an otherwise successful job search into an unsuccessful one. But, so-called “Ban the Box” laws exist in a number of jurisdictions. They make it more difficult for a company to use criminal records to eliminate candidates from the outset.

The Final Word On Background Checks & Giving Notice

The entire subject of background checks and how to handle them while transitioning from one job to another is fraught with nuanced questions. One of the first things most job hunters ask when they get a solid employment lead is, “Can I resign after receiving an offer letter?”

The simplistic response is, “Of course, you can resign and give notice whenever you wish.” But the finer point of the matter leads to another question, “Should I give 2-week notice before a background check has been completed by my new employer?”

There are multiple variables involved, and each case is unique, but it’s usually wisest to wait until you’ve cleared all the barriers for the new position before giving notice, resigning, or telling any coworkers that you are planning to leave your current job. There is no solid reason to celebrate an offer letter until the background check shows “all clear.” Then, and only then, should you prepare to give 2 weeks’ notice.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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