What to Do When a Job Offer is Withdrawn or Put On Hold

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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 What rights do those whose job offers have been revoked have, what recourse is there, and what happens to a signing bonus or an advance once an offer has been rescinded? How about if you have a job offer, but the employer puts it on hold?

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Options for What to Do if a Job Offer is Rescinded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of Bryan Cave LLP, shares her expertise on the steps to take when you have been offered a new job and the offer is rescinded.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There are steps you can take to protect yourself in the eventuality the job offer is withdrawn: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  • Ask if the job offer letter can reflect what the company will do if the job offer is withdrawn.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.

    What To Do When a Job Offer is Put on Hold

    What happens if you get a job offer, but the employer say it's on hold? Candidates may or may not be informed about why the offer has been put on hold, but reasons range from unanticipated budget concerns and unexpected restructuring to a change of heart by an incumbent about leaving the firm.

    What should you do if you are given a job offer, but then are told it is on hold? First, ask the employer if there is a time frame for determining the status of the job to get an idea about when a decision might be made. During the discussion, let the company representative know that you are very interested in the job and would like to receive continued consideration.

    Towards the end of the time period given by the employer, reach out to your contact at the company.

    If no timing has been shared wait about three weeks to follow up.

    How to Follow Up

    Your follow up communication should usually be an email unless the employer has suggested a phone call so that you avoid pestering your contact.

    Your overture can be framed as "checking in" on the status of the search and should include an affirmative statement regarding your continuing interest. You might consider providing some new information of potential interest such as an additional certification, award or accomplishment.

    It is common for job seekers who have received some positive indications that they are a preferred candidate to halt their job search activity. That's not a good idea. You should continue your active search for other jobs until you have a definitive job offer. That way, you won't lose momentum with your search since the job at hand may never materialize.