Civil Service - Two Provisional Job Offers

(4 Posts)
Goldensands2020 Fri 29-May-20 10:31:48

Hi all, hope everyone is keeping well in lockdown!

I gave received two provisional job offers, both from central Government departments. Do you think it's possible to accept both and then choose one if they turn into unconditional job offers? A previous provisional job offer was withdrawn so don't want to have to pick one now and then regret it! Thanks

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Fri 29-May-20 12:39:41

I think it should be technically possible yes, if they are separate departments and do their pre-employment screening separately (rather than through the same government centralised service as some depts do) each department would be unlikely to know or find out you'd accepted another job. Until you have accepted the contract and started the job you aren't under any real obligation to either employer and so long as you aren't actively deceiving them I can't see you getting into any real 'trouble' over it.

However doing this is regarded as bad 'etiquette' in the CS and wider public sector, as pre-employment checks are pretty extensive and lengthy, particularly if you'd be getting higher level security clearance, so the department has to 'invest' quite a bit in getting you through the checks, and by the time you are cleared to start it's often several weeks or even months down the line and too late to contact a 2nd choice if you decline the offer. So it's frowned upon to accept a provisional offer you don't really intend to take up - but of course people do do it.

Not to be nosy, but why are you worried the offer will be withdrawn - something in a reference or that will come up on a security check? It's really quite rare for a CS provisional job offer to be withdrawn in my experience, usually only if something serious such as having been dismissed from a previous job comes up on a reference, or something which would stop you getting security cleared such as a criminal record. If you do have an issue like this, would a better course of action be to discuss it upfront with both recruiting managers to see how much of an issue it's likely to be? They are more likely to give you a chance if you've been open and honest as well.

Goldensands2020 Fri 29-May-20 13:46:21

Thanks for replying.The jobs are with two separate departments and it appears their on-boarding/pre-employment processes are different too.

I do agree on it being bad etiquette, but I'm just trying to look out for myself so to speak as it is only a provisional job offer.

There are absolutely no issues with my references or background. As a non-UK resident, I'm just concerned lack of UK residency might impede the security clearance process causing an offer to be withdrawn.

I secured a provisional job offer last year but it was then withdrawn because the department closed before I received an unconditional offer. I'm just trying to plan for unforeseen events as I have been out of work way longer than I intended and want to keep options open in case things go wrong. I would more than likely accept the first unconditional offer to come through. A friend in the UK mentioned it's not uncommon for people to fall out of the process before the unconditional offer is accepted as the checks might take long, salary may not be agreeable, etc.

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Fri 29-May-20 14:18:41

Ah OK, I see, fair enough. In our department we try our hardest to sort out any issues with residency and eligibility for the job, possibility of not passing security etc early on and ideally before even making the provisional offer - but we don't require enhanced security clearance/DV for the majority of our staff so less of an issue there. And we would never withdraw an offer just because the process takes longer for one candidate who may have a complicated background with periods of non UK residency and therefore take longer to get clearance than another, obviously if they don't pass security at all we have no choice in the matter, but so long as you will be cleared eventually then it shouldn't be an issue.

People do drop out during the process of course but we do try and minimise it as it's such a waste for us when that happens - salary negotiations for example we resolve upfront as obviously that can be a deal breaker. To me it's stupid to spend 12 weeks getting security clearance for a candidate only for it to turn out they won't accept less than £x as a salary and we can't meet that (and we could have told them so in week 1!). But of course there's always a risk someone will be offered more money elsewhere or (particularly if they are currently not working) they'll take another job while waiting to be cleared. My dept has done an awful lot of work to bring down the length of time it takes to clear someone as a few years ago we were losing a lot of people in the waiting period and we're down to a pretty healthy 6 weeks on average (I know some private sector people will find that ridiculous!), but I hear anecdotally it can take months in other departments and I agree it's not always fair to expect someone to wait that long.

So fair enough, if you don't have the confidence then keep your options open.

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