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What Is a Conditional Job Offer?

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    Navigating today’s job market requires strategy and skill. It also takes quite a bit of research. In addition to learning about Typical Job Search Mistakes and the Top Job Search Engines, you’ll likely find yourself asking lots of questions, such as: How often should you get a raise? And what is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?

    At some point during your job search, you may find yourself wondering, what is a conditional job offer? And is a conditional job offer the same thing as a contingent job offer? In short, conditional job offers — also known as contingent job offers — are given to job candidates when a company intends to hire them but needs to sort out a few things before they can formally offer them the job.

    In this article, we will answer the question “what is a conditional offer of employment?” more fully. We will also review common requirements for conditional job offers, as well as provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to respond to a conditional employment offer letter.

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    Why do employers send conditional job offers?

    Depending on the company, the hiring process can be lengthy and involve lots of paperwork. Conditional job offers, while not legally binding, are a show of good faith and good intentions. In other words, contingent job offers signal that the company intends to hire the job candidate — as long as they continue to adhere to the company’s standards.

    So what are the advantages of a conditional job offer? And why do companies use them? Conditional or contingent job offers allow employers to take their time during the hiring process while limiting the risk of losing their top candidates. After all, reference checks, background tests, drug screenings, and work visa applications are all time-consuming processes. Therefore, a conditional job offer can be a great way to outline expectations and get the ball moving!

    Common requirements for conditional job offers

    So what are some common requirements for conditional job offers? Let’s take a look at some examples below:

      • Background Checks
      • Drug Testing
      • Reference Checks
      • Certifications
      • Job Trainings
      • Medical Exams
      • Immigration Requirements (visas, passports, residence permits, etc.)
      • Credit Check

    Lots of jobs require background and reference checks. But other requirements are often company or industry-specific. For example, truck drivers need to complete medical exams and drug testing to ensure they can operate heavy machinery safely. Similarly, physically demanding positions, such as that of a firefighter or police officer, require physical health exams as part of the hiring process.

    Now what about credit scores? This one seems a bit strange, doesn’t it? Now, before you get too worried, rest assured, this is fairly uncommon. Basically, the only jobs that check your credit score are positions where you will be acting as a financial advisor.

    3 Steps to take after receiving a conditional job offer

    Receiving a conditional job offer can feel overwhelming. This is why having a step-by-step guide can be so helpful. Overall, there are 3 steps you’ll need to take after receiving a contingent job offer letter:


    Ask questions and clarify expectations

    First, ask clarifying questions. Figure out what the proposed timeline looks like and know exactly what is expected of you moving forward. Some conditional job offers are time-sensitive. This is why it’s important to be aware of deadlines. Being able to manage your time effectively is often key when receiving a conditional job offer. For example, you may receive a conditional job offer that requires you to complete a specific training or certification within a certain amount of time. If this is the case, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to figure out logistics.


    Negotiate (if necessary)

    Like with any other job offer, now is the time to negotiate. In addition to negotiating your salary and benefits, you may want to negotiate the conditions outlined in your contingent job offer letter. For example, you may want to ask for more time to file the appropriate paperwork or complete the necessary training if you are worried their timeline is unrealistic.


    Send a written acceptance or rejection

    The next step is to send a formal written response. Although most contingent job offers are not legally binding, it’s always best to get everything in writing. That way both parties will have a written record of your agreement to refer to if there are any disagreements or miscommunications during the hiring process. In other words, sending a formal response will help clarify and solidify expectations on both ends. This is crucial when receiving a conditional job offer.

    If you need advice on how to write a professional work email, refer to our article here.

    Are conditional job offers legally binding?

    Now that we’ve explored the question, “what is a contingent offer?,” let’s clarify some key points. Conditional job offers are not guaranteed; they are conditional. That means that while your prospective employer has good intentions, there is still a chance your offer could be rescinded. If you don’t fulfill the conditions listed in your job offer, your prospective employer can withdraw their offer of employment. This is why it’s important to keep your options open until you receive a formal job offer. (In other words, don’t turn down a competing interview)!

    In the meantime, always respond to contingent job offer letters in writing. This will give you some legal protection if your prospective employer doesn’t hold up their side of your initial agreement.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    So, in conclusion, what is a conditional offer for a job? A conditional job offer is when a company offers you a position if you meet certain requirements. These requirements often include background checks, drug screenings, reference checks, and work visas (if you are a foreign worker).

    If you receive a contingent job offer, make sure you know exactly what is expected of you moving forward. Check in about prospective timelines, negotiate the terms of your employment, write a formal response to the conditional job offer letter, and do your best to keep your options open as you move forward with the hiring process.

    In the meantime, if you have other career-related questions, reach out to connect with one of our career counseling experts. In addition to being able to clarify the differences between being Furloughed vs. Laid-Off, a career counselor can coach you on the best ways to answer Frequently Asked Phone Interview Questions, as well as provide you with Expert Tips on Finding A Job Right After College.

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