If you’re currently on the lookout for a new job, or just entering the job market for the first time, you may have heard of the term ‘conditional job offer’.
This can be confusing for people – doesn’t a job offer mean that you’ve been successful in securing the job? After all, you’ll have been through the whole application process, aced the interview (or possibly interviews). So why would your offer be conditional?
A conditional job offer means that you have to meet an extra requirement that you haven’t yet met to be eligible for the role.
This works in a similar way to a conditional admission offer you might receive from a college, for which you will need to meet certain grades in your high school exams in order to study there.
Instead of exam results, it may well just be subject to routine checks regarding things like your criminal history or professional references.
In this article, we’ll take you through everything there is to know about conditional offers, including the various types that exist and the reasons for them.
Table of Contents
Why Do Employers Make Conditional Job Offers?
If an employer has conducted a thorough hiring process and found a perfect candidate for the position, you might think it would make sense to snap them up there and then.
The conditional offer option is there for if they want to guarantee that the candidate actually meets all the requirements and isn’t misrepresenting themselves in any way.
It takes a while for the relevant admin to be sorted, so the employer will make a conditional offer in the meantime to let the candidate know that they are just awaiting formalities before they can be officially employed.
It could have adverse consequences for the company if they accidentally hired someone who had a habit of turning up late for previous jobs, or worse – had a list of violent offences.
These two possibilities could be ruled out with a reference check and a criminal record check respectively, giving the employer peace of mind that they’re dealing with someone suitable.
Some jobs need all staff to be qualified to a certain level, for example graduate jobs or very technical or specific positions.
For students who haven’t quite completed their college degree yet before applying for jobs, they may have to wait until they have graduated to be hired.
It can be a relief to know that they have a job lined up fresh out of college, just as long as they meet their target grades.
Types Of Conditional Job Offer
Conditional job offers can be based on various different factors, or sometimes a combination of them. Here are some of the most common criteria for job offers to be conditional on and what they mean.
Depending on the job, you may need to complete at least a high school diploma, or you may need to have achieved a higher level of study.
In most cases you can apply for the job before you actually graduate, but won’t be able to start until you can provide proof of the certificate.
Sometimes, you may need a certain grade in a subject, while other times you will simply need to pass it.
The vast majority of jobs carry out some form of reference check before welcoming you to the team. This will generally be professional references, i.e. people who know you in a professional capacity and have worked with you in the past.
If you don’t have any previous job history, you will need to use character references: these people can vouch for you from a personal perspective, and could be from voluntary positions you’ve held or extracurricular activities you take part in.
Likewise, jobs will almost definitely perform a criminal record check on you to see if you are suitable for the work. This may be standard or extensive, depending on the type of work you’re going into.
For example, roles in healthcare, teaching and policing will require a full criminal record disclosure, and certain convictions can rule you out of getting the job.
Jobs in some industries will need you to pass a drug screening process. They may also have regular drug tests for existing employees, to make sure they aren’t putting their colleagues, themselves, or the public at risk.
The most common jobs to require drug testing are roles within the government, as well as positions in hospitals and healthcare.
How To Accept A Conditional Job Offer
The process of accepting a conditional offer is much the same as accepting an unconditional one, except that the employer can still withdraw the offer if you end up not meeting its requirements.
Once you accept, the contract becomes legally binding on your side, as well as on the side of the employer provided you fulfill the stated conditions.
While you can technically accept more than one conditional offer and then back out of one before signing the contract, just in case your preferred one falls through, it is not a good idea to do this because you could end up burning bridges that could have been useful to you later on.
In practice, either party can change their mind once the job has started – either you or your employer may realize that the job is not the right fit for you after a few days, and can terminate the contract at any point.
However, workplaces are still not allowed to discriminate against you based on characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any of the other protected classes.
Chances are, unless you are applying for an internal role or other situation in which the employer knows you well, any job offer you get will be subject to some kind of condition.
Usually jobs will require references and a criminal record check at minimum, so they can be sure that you are who you say you are before investing in you.
Receiving a conditional job offer means that you have the job in the bag, so long as you can prove that you meet the criteria set out in the offer.
In contrast, an unconditional offer is essentially a contract of employment: once you accept, you are officially hired.
Don’t worry if you do get a conditional offer, as this is the way most companies hire people in the modern world; it just means that, once the formal checks are completed, they can be fully confident in you as an employee.