Corporate vs. Academic hiring time frames?


Hi all,

Finished my PhD two years ago and took an industry job as I was feeling a bit disenchanted with academia. Last month I applied for another industry job, interviewed and got an email saying I'd got the position and formal paperwork would follow.

Formal paperwork hasn't followed and its been over 3 weeks. I've already handed my notice in at my old company too so as to comply with the start date the new place gave me, so I'm wondering if they've just decided now that they don't want me, or if I need to get in touch and push the issue? I've been in touch with the CEO who hired me who's confirmed my start date, but I've got no contract or anything.

Reality is I've been in academia for ages now and I realise I'm not well versed in how these companies operate and the time frames they work on- is this entirely normal for the corporate world? Would emailing or calling to check be frowned upon in corporate? I know it wouldn't in academia because I've worked in it for a long time now, multiple jobs all really good at keeping in touch and getting these kinds of documents out. However looking at it, every response I've seen online is 'corporate HR happens when it happens lol' and a lot of sites say I run the risk of marking myself out as a problem before I'm even there.

Is this the case? It seems bizarre, but I'll admit I've got no experience and need to know if I should email their HR department or start grovelling for my old job back.


I'd contact them if I was you and politely as them for an update as you've handed in your notice to comply with the start date they've given you. That wouldn’t be unreasonable at all in my opinion. It’s possible that they work on slightly different time scales than what you’re used to (academia), but the fact is they can’t leave you hanging until you’re potentially out of work over what is essentially an informal offer (an ex colleague of mine experienced this when dealing with a start-up company). I know what you mean re potentially being viewed as problematic before beginning the job itself however the company has to be a good fit for you too, not just the other way around.


Just keep this in mind for next time. You should apply your exit papers and serve notice only when you have received an offer letter from the new firm. A verbal assurance and word of confidence mean nothing in a corporate as long as you don't have them in written form.
Since you're already serving your notice period while you've received a confirmation from the new firm, it is not wrong to nudge them regarding your offer letter. Call or email them and put it across politely. All the best!