Picture this: You’re offered a fantastic new job. You give your current employer your two weeks’ notice, clean out your desk and say goodbye to your work spouse. Maybe you’re moving cities or states because, hey, you’re on your way to bigger and better things.
And then the rug is pulled—the offer has been rescinded. Sorry about that!
That’s what has been happening to a number of job seekers last year through early 2023. Major companies like Meta, Twitter, Tesla and Coinbase have made headlines recently for taking back job offers en masse.
So, sure, you’re pissed off. But no matter how much you might want to, giving the hiring manager of your would-be role a piece of your mind is not exactly recommended. What can you do instead? We spoke to three employment experts to find out how to handle this rejection.
Job Safety Is Never Guaranteed
The offer rescissions dominating the news as of late may seem out of the ordinary, but according to Ford R. Myers, career coach and president of Career Potential LLC, “job offers are ‘pulled’ all the time, for various reasons.”
While we tend not to worry about job loss during the hiring process, employment lawyer Mandy Rosenblum points out that job seekers always face this possibility under “at-will employment.” This essentially means that employers have the right to terminate an employee at any time, without notice, for any reason (other than illegal ones) or for no reason at all—and Montana is the only state in the nation without at-will employment.
Reacting to a Rescinded Job Offer
If you find yourself staring down the barrel of a rescinded job offer, don’t panic! And more importantly, don’t air your frustrations online.
“For too many, the knee-jerk reaction is to jump on social media and show their anger,” says David Curry, president of Radnor Consulting. While feeling disappointed, scared or even outraged is perfectly natural, Curry recommends that you still thank the employer for the offer—yes, even after it has been eighty-sixed.
“Whatever the reason for the revoking, thanking them and iterating that you’d like to keep in touch in case the situation changes is the best move,” Curry says.
It’s better to share your frustrations with a friend over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s than to risk a potentially career-damaging error on Twitter or TikTok.
No Job Offer—Now What?
Your next steps depend partly on why you left your previous job.
If leaving was a tough decision because you enjoyed the job and were an excellent employee, there’s no need to go back with hat in hand, according to Curry.
“Chances are they haven’t filled the role yet,” he says. Let your former employer know that the other position didn’t pan out and inquire if your position is still open. There’s no harm in asking, right?
If your former role is gone, Myers recommends asking if there are other positions available at the company or if your former boss could connect you with people outside the company. “They may consider rehiring you into a different position,” Myers says, or can at least write a great recommendation.
But if you were seriously unhappy or had a bad working relationship with your employer, Curry says to “get back on the Ferris wheel and do the things you did to get a job offer in the first place.”
The best place to start? Networking. “A large portion of people find jobs through networking, not job boards,” Curry explains. It’s sometimes a case of who you know—and you already know you’re hirable, even if the other offer no longer stands.
Lowering Your Risk of a Rescinded Offer
There are two important actions you can take to protect yourself once you’ve gotten a job offer:
“First, hold off on resigning from your current role,” Rosenblum says. The preemployment approval process can take some time, so it makes sense to wait to tell your current employer you’re leaving until the new role goes through—if you have the time to do so. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to arrange a start date that allows you to give your current employer two weeks’ notice while accounting for some wiggle room.
Next, Rosenblum suggests negotiating with prospective employers. “You can negotiate potential relocation costs and build in contingencies for what would happen if the job falls through.”
While these strategies can’t completely prevent a rescinded offer, they can mitigate the potential damage.
The Changing World of Work
Our entire economy is still recalibrating due to the pandemic, and the trend of companies rescinding job offers is just the latest example. “It’s another prong in the crazy employment fork that’s been going on since 2020,” Curry says.
But as scary as this trend may seem, the experts agree that it’s not necessarily a sign that the employment sky is falling.
“Some industries are still hiring like crazy,” Rosenblum says. “There are jobs out there if you know where to look.” And now you know what to do when you get that offer.
Millie content is licensed from Meredith Corporation, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle and more.
Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd and Plutus Award–winning freelance writer. She is the author of five books including “The 5 Years Before You Retire” and “Stacked: Your Super Serious Guide to Modern Money Management,” written with Joe Saul-Sehy. Emily lives in Milwaukee with her spouse, two sons, a dog and a cat.