What to Do if Your Job Offer is Rescinded

The average jobseeker submits anywhere from 21 – 80 job applications, and goes on about eleven interviews, before landing a role. That’s a lot of time and energy to sink into a process, 

But, we could argue that there are few more rewarding feelings in the world than when a job offer finally comes through. Once all the documents are signed and your start date is set, you’re officially in the clear to give your current employer two weeks. It’s time to relax and celebrate, right? 

Not so fast…

While signing a job offer commits your interest to the company and position, it’s usually based on a few contingencies before you’re “officially” hired. And, should you fail to meet any of those contingencies, your new employer has the right to withdraw their offer.

Having a job offer rescinded is certainly an ego-killer, but knowing how to respond, and how to act in the future, can set you up to bounce right back on your career track. Keep reading as the Guide to Graduate teams shares common reasons job offers are rescinded, and what you can do to keep it from happening to you in the future. 

Common Reasons Employers May Rescind a Job Offer 

Let’s start by getting one thing straight–offer letters are not contracts. Because of that important distinction, most employment is at will, meaning the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time. 

For that reason, we could fill a novel with an ongoing list of why a job offer could be rescinded, but the most common include:

  • You made too many additional requests: Most job offers are contingent upon the details outlined in your offer. If you signed the offer but then proceeded to make a few too many requests, from an out-of-range salary increase, to a remote work situation when you initially told the interviewer you could come into the office, the employer has the right to rescind their offer.
  • You didn’t pass a background check: If you failed to pass a reference, background, or drug screening check, your job offer can rightfully be rescinded.
  • You can’t make the start date: While some companies can be flexible in a start date, others have urgent hiring needs. If you’re unable to accommodate the company’s timeframe for bringing in a new hire, you may have your offer rescinded and handed off to an applicant ready to start ASAP.

What to Do if Your Job Offer is Rescinded…

We know–you’re probably upset. No one likes to hear bad news like this. But remaining as calm, polite, and professional as possible as the news is delivered is critical in maintaining your professional reputation.  

Once the hiring manager has informed you of their decision, you have an opportunity to ask questions as to why they made the decision. Keep in mind, however, they don’t have to disclose that information to you. 

… and How to Prevent a Job Offer From Being Rescinded in the Future

Put simply, every job offer has contingencies. And because every company has their own hiring processes and standards, the contingencies you receive on one job offer may be different from the next. That’s why it’s always a good idea to take a bit of preventative action the second you receive an offer to reduce the chances of having it rescinded. 

Ask the hiring manager for a list of  the offer’s contingencies that you need to pass in order to officially begin your role. This is also a good time to ask for an estimated timeframe of how long it will take to pass those contingencies so you can ensure not to hand in your notice to your current employer until the job is officially yours.  

And finally, remain honest, including on your resume! While some job rescindications may be out of your hands, you can control areas like your background check and workplace and role expectations from the start.

Have you had a job offer rescinded in the past? Share your experience with the Guide to Graduate community in the comments!

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