What to Do When a Job Offer is Withdrawn

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What happens when a company decides that they don't need you - after they have already offered you a job? What rights do those whose job offers have been revoked have, what recourse is there, and what happens to a signing bonus or an advance once an offer has been rescinded?

It can happen. A company may realize after they have made a job offer that they don’t have the budget for a new hire, or the job offer could be put on hold.

You may think you’re set for your next job. You could have already submitted your notice to your current employer. What should you do?

Options for What to Do if a Job Offer is Rescinded

Unfortunately, you don't have many legal rights. That's why it's important to carefully evaluate the job offer and the company before you accept the offer to try and ensure the offer is going to hold up. If the job offer is conditional, be sure you can meet all the requirements for it becoming permanent. The last thing you want to do is quit your job and perhaps relocate, only to find out you don't have the new job you were counting on. Mimi Moore, Partner in the Chicago office of Bryan Cave LLP, shares her expertise on the steps to take when you have been offered a new job and the offer is rescinded.

First of all, it's important to be aware that from a legal perspective you don't have many rights. That's because most states are employment at will, which means that the company doesn't have to have a reason to terminate your employment.

The same logic holds true for prospective employees.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself in the eventuality the job offer is withdrawn:

  • Ask what the chances are of the job offer being revoked and ask what the company has done when it's happened. The company's past track record is a good indicator of what might happen and the company may have a plan in place.
  • Ask if the job offer letter can reflect what the company will do if the job offer is withdrawn.
  • If there is a signing bonus or an advance, ask what will happen to it. Ask if your offer of employment can make it clear that you can keep it if your offer is revoked.
  • Let the employer know that you want to know as soon as possible if your offer is in jeopardy.

Most important, Mimi Moore says, is, "To be sure that you are comfortable with the job offer and the company you are agreeing to work for."

What to Do if You Lose a Job Before You Start

  • Be prepared. Research contingency plans for what you can do if the offer is withdrawn. You may be able to negotiate other options with the company. You may be able to start part-time, work in a different area, or start later. It can't hurt to see what options might be available. The more flexible you are, the better your chances of being able to work it out.
  • Can you get your old job back? If you had a great relationship with your employer there might be a chance to stay on or to get rehired if you have already left. Some employers would be thrilled to have the opportunity to keep a valued employee. Even if you’re not sure whether you have a chance, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Here are tips for asking for your job back and hopefully getting rehired.