Landing a job offer is often one of life’s most thrilling experiences, especially if it’s a coveted position at your dream company.
What happens next is a whirlwind: resigning from your current position, looking over every aspect of your offer, negotiating with your new employers and counting down the days until you begin your new job. Very occasionally, however, the worst can happen: Your job offer is rescinded.
Why would an employer revoke an offer, and what can you do if it happens to you?
To determine what next steps you should take and how you can bounce back if your job offer gets rescinded, we spoke with Lori Shreve Blake, senior director of career engagement at the USC Career Center.
Why Would a Job Offer Get Rescinded?
Of course, it’s incredibly shocking to have an offer made and then see it revoked. The good news is, this rarely occurs — but when it does, it’s likely due to not passing a background check, whether that’s because of past criminal activity, a failed drug test, shifting priorities of the organization, an economic downturn or even inappropriate social media posts, Shreve Blake said.
In the situation of a background check, however, it isn’t usually a formal offer that’s being rescinded — “it was a contingent offer, and contingent on you passing, and something prevented you from doing that,” she explained.
Unfortunately, avoiding an offer withdrawal isn’t always as simple as passing a background check. A company can retract a position if there’s an organizational hiring freeze or leadership is preparing for a looming recession.
“When you got the offer and you were in the final stages, maybe things changed, and the company had to have a hiring freeze … for whatever reason, from a fiscal budget, financial health point of view,” Shreve Blake said. “At that point, it’s out of your hands and has nothing to do with you as the final candidate.”
What Can You Do if Your Job Offer Is Rescinded?
While you may feel overwhelmed and worried about your future following an offer retraction, Shreve Blake advised not to panic. Take a deep breath and carefully consider your options.
The best-case scenario is that the hiring company rescinded the offer early on, and you haven’t put in your two weeks’ notice yet. You still have a job and financial stability, and you can keep searching for a new, better-suited position.
Sometimes, though, it’s a little too late. If you’ve already handed in your resignation letter, return to your current employer and inform them of the situation. Ask if your role is still available and whether you can continue working for them. On the condition you’re in good standing with your employer, there’s a chance they’ll want to keep you on.
“You’re a known commodity, you’re producing great work for that organization, and they were sad to see you leave. They’ll see the benefit in having you stay. You just need to circle back with your supervisor to say, ‘My offer was rescinded, and I’d like to stay,’” Shreve Blake explained.
Part of the reason this strategy may work is because hiring takes time — you have to post the job, screen applicants, complete rounds of interviews and negotiate the offer — so it’s likely they haven’t filled the position within your two weeks’ notice. It’s much easier and less work for everyone involved to have you retain your employment.
If your employer decides to hire someone else for the role, however, don’t be discouraged. Get back on the job hunt and utilize your existing network to track down any potential job leads. To maintain a steady income, you can also look into temp agencies, part-time opportunities and freelance projects as you pursue a new full-time role, said Shreve Blake.
Finally, if you’re concerned the job offer was illegally rescinded, then it might be worth seeking the advice of an employment attorney, Shreve Blake added.
“If a final candidate believe the reason the offer was rescinded has to do with any discriminatory kind of attributes like race, religion, sexual orientation, things like that, maybe they want to consider seeking out legal advice just to make sure that there wasn’t anything illegal that went on as a result of that rescinding of the offer,” she explained.
What Not to Do if Your Offer Is Rescinded
It’s undoubtedly difficult to have a job offer revoked, but Shreve Blake urged those affected to avoid lashing out publicly against the organization.
“Let’s definitely not go to social media and start badmouthing the organization … No employer wants bad press, and just because you received an offer that was rescinded from an organization – do not take it personally. But if they see that you’re badmouthing a former potential employer within the industry, that’s going to be a red flag,” she said. “At the end of the day, you control the message that is out there about you.”
You should also consider why the offer was rescinded and what you’ve learned through the process. If the role withdrawal was due to the economy or the financial state of the organization, do more research on potential employers and make sure you only consider ones that are fiscally sound in the future.
“Ask the interviewers and employers, ‘Have you had any downsizing? Why did the last person who was in this job leave?’ You can even start the conversation, ‘I know there’s a looming recession, and things may not be as strong in the economy. How is the company handling that in terms of its operations and even bringing in new talent?’ Ask more questions to get a sense of where this company is,” she said.
The Bottom Line
Above all, remember that having a job offer rescinded is a temporary setback, and a better opportunity is waiting for you. It’s easy to feel upset, insecure and stressed when you don’t have a backup role waiting, but it’s crucial to stay positive and continue your job search.
“I want people to know it’s not the end of the road. It’s just a pivot that they made. In life, when a door closes, it’s because there’s a better door or path ahead of you. And so, we learn from these things. We become more proactive when we’re in these interview settings to open up a dialogue, and we make an effort to really understand the organization,” Shreve Blake said.
Another piece of advice? Explore professional career advising so you can develop a road map as you move forward.
“You can use the support of the USC Career Center, for example. Seeking out the guidance of an expert career coach can help you move quickly into the next opportunity, resulting in receiving multiple offers. Networking is a critical step in securing your next career opportunity. So, leverage all the resources. You can make this happen,” Shreve Blake concluded.
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