What to Do if a Job Offer Is Withdrawn

Every jobseeker wants to hear these words: “We’re pleased to offer you a position with us.” Once you’ve received a job offer, it’s troubling to even contemplate hearing, “We unfortunately will have to withdraw our offer of employment.” It’s important to be aware that, while uncommon, this can and does happen.

Read on to learn more about the reasons why an employer might rescind or withdraw a job they’ve already offered you, what’s going on for the employer or HR when this happens, and how common it is for a company to renege on a job offer. Below you’ll also find a step-by-step action plan about what you can do if they find that their job offer has fallen through in this way.

[READ: How to Tell Your Boss You Got Another Job Offer.]

Why Was My Job Offer Rescinded?

After being offered a job, it may seem like cruel and unusual punishment for hiring managers to change their mind and withdraw the offer from the winning candidate. While you may not ever know for sure why you’ve lost the opportunity, there are a number of plausible reasons why this may have happened, which include but aren’t limited to:

Budget changes. It’s possible that after telling you that you’re hired, the company or department had their hiring budget slashed.

Hiring freeze. Even if there was a green light for the employer to hire you when you interviewed, the company’s circumstances may have changed after the offer was made, resulting in hiring being put on hold before you were formally brought on board.

Negative reference check. HR may have heard something they felt was concerning about you during the reference check process, or seen something on the standard background check that scared them off.

Second thoughts. While your interview may have gone well, it’s possible that something that you did after the interview caused the hiring team to change their minds. For example, perhaps they saw a social media post that they felt was unprofessional or didn’t like that you texted the HR director at night to ask about the status of the position.

Poor negotiation. After offering you the job, if your salary and benefits negotiation with the company turned them off, they may have decided not to move forward with your offer.

Another candidate. While it’s not very considerate and is ethically questionable, the employer may have found a candidate that they felt was a better fit after they’d already offered you the job.

Fortunately, the practice of withdrawing a job offer isn’t common. According to The Washington Post, it’s rare but does happen in today’s “bad-vibes economy.”

[READ: How to Decline a Job Offer. ]

What to Do if a Job Offer Is Rescinded

Now that you know your job offer has been withdrawn, it’s important to respond to the news in a way that’s both positive and productive. While you likely feel upset and angry at this flip-flop from the employer, it’s best to channel your energy into figuring out your next steps rather than doing or saying something you might regret.

Follow this step-by-step action plan to salvage your job hunt:

Shore up your current employment. If you had a job offer in hand and were already employed, it’s likely that you already gave notice to your current employer. This puts you in an awkward situation — you’ve started parting ways with the bird in hand, and now there isn’t one in the bush, either.

See if it’s not too late to keep your job. Your boss may have already put out feelers to fill your position and may not be open to your request, but it’s worth a try to buy some time. If the new job fell through partly because of fit and you legitimately weren’t sure you wanted it either, let your manager know that you realized that your current job is the right fit for you. Be careful if you do this, though, because if you plan to keep job hunting and expect to leave your job soon after, this strategy may backfire.

Connect with other job leads. If your current position can’t be salvaged or it doesn’t make sense to do so, consider your other options, if you have any. Do you have hats in the ring with other companies? Were you interviewing at more than one organization? Did you have additional leads from your recruiter?

If you had any viable opportunities in play when you received the job offer, see what can be resurrected. Let other employers you’d spoken with know that you’re still interested, tell your recruiter about your change in plans, and keep your resume circulating with previous possibilities you’d been exploring or considering.

Get support from your network. Moments of career crisis like this call for help from your professional network. If you’ve already announced to your network on social media that you’ve taken a new position, send an update that you’re considering other options and ask for leads. If you have a mentor at your current company or in your industry, ask for guidance, advice and assistance. If you’re working with a recruiting agency, request that they redouble their efforts to help you find a new position quickly.

Consider legal options. According to Brian Waerig, an employment attorney with Susanin, Widman & Brennan, PC, in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, whether or not you may have a legal claim against a company that rescinded your job offer depends on a number of issues. If you think your offer was revoked based on being part of a protected class such as race, nationality, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability, you may want to consult with a lawyer.

[Read: Things Your Boss Can’t Legally Do.]

“There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Waerig says. “If an employer extends a conditional offer of employment contingent on how well a potential employee performs on a medical exam, and the employee fails the exam, the employer may decide to take the offer back and claim that there’s no way for that employee to perform the job safely or perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. That employee might have a claim under the ADA, though, that there is a way for them to perform the job safely and effectively and that they were discriminated against.”

If an employer tells you the offer was withdrawn based on your failure to pass a background and/or credit check, you might also have a claim, depending on what was found on your report, how recently an incident on your report had occurred and how that incident relates to the job you were offered.

“In Pennsylvania, felony or misdemeanor convictions may be considered by the employer, only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability to perform the job for which he has applied,” Waerig explains. “So, say you were applying to be a bank teller, and your background check reveals you’ve had a recent theft conviction. An employer could decide they don’t want to hire you. But if you’re applying to be a clerical employee and the employer decides not to hire you because you have a conviction for a DUI, you might have a claim.”

If you feel uneasy about the reason behind a rescinded offer, consult with an employment attorney to determine what may be done.

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What to Do if a Job Offer Is Withdrawn originally appeared on usnews.com

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