What Is a Conditional Letter of Employment?

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Woman reading over letter of employment
Woman reading over letter of employment (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

It is exciting to receive an offer of employment -- especially if you have been searching for a new job for quite some time. But don't celebrate too soon if you receive a conditional offer of employment. This type of offer means you're the number one candidate, and the company does want to hire you. However, you have to clear some additional hurdles before the offer becomes binding on the employer.

Possible Conditions

As the name states, a conditional letter of employment comes with a number of conditions that the prospective employee must meet before starting or continuing with the job. For instance, some conditional letters may state that the applicant must pass a background and urine check before being officially hired on with the company. In some cases the applicant must take action and in other cases the employer is still performing some reviews and checks before the hiring process is complete.

Purpose and Advantage

The employer commonly sends this conditional letter of employment because the company wants to make sure that the prospective employee is thoroughly informed about the hiring process. This applicant is technically hired -- he passes almost all of the requirements and the company wants him. But he needs to understand that the offer can be withdrawn due to additional checks. By explicitly labeling the letter "conditional," it allows the new hire time to get prepared for taking on the position while telling him that a few details are still pending.

Government Employers

Any employer might decide to send a conditional letter of employment to a new hire in any industry, but it is particularly common in the public sector. Government employers, like police departments or city utility companies, commonly offer conditional letters of employment. They have to perform very thorough checks on employees for these important public positions. Background checks and tests could extend past the company's hiring deadline.

How to Proceed

If you receive a conditional letter of employment and you're currently employed, you must proceed with caution. Do not quit your current job or even hint to your current employer that you may have to leave until you've met all conditions of the letter. If you give notice to your old employer that you plan to leave and then have issues meeting the conditions outlined on the letter, you could end up without employment at either company.

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