An employer has made you a job offer. Excited, you begin to make preparations to transition to your new job, only to receive a phone call saying that the offer is being rescinded. The wind from your sails empties, and you are left wondering what to do. The critical period for making any moves to cushion the blow is after the offer and before you accept it.
You have the best chance of getting some compensation from an employer who withdraws a job offer after the offer is made and before you take it. You may be able to get some "in case" compensation included in the offer letter. Job offers are not employment contracts, however. Employment laws vary in each state, but generally you won't have a good chance in a lawsuit if a promise of a job offer is made and then retracted. Employment is usually considered "at-will," meaning you or the employer can end the employment arrangement at any time for any reason, except illegal discrimination.
Why Offers Are Withdrawn
Companies sometimes find that they must restructure before your start date, and then they decide to rescind your job offer to protect their current employees. Executive-level positions can be vulnerable to an offer's retraction because they often come with start dates that are months down the road. If something negative comes up in your reference, background or credit check, the job offer may be withdrawn. If you do not fill out all of the employee paperwork or complete all the requirements, such as getting a drug test, the offer may be retracted.
Ask for the signing bonus you would have received upon starting work, if your job came with one but the offer is rescinded. Some companies will help you find another position. They may offer part-time work or some type of stipend or severance package while you look for another position. Find out if the company is willing to accept direct billing of your relocation charges if you moved to take the job before the offer was withdrawn. You can also ask for these things after you accept the offer, but you have a better chance of getting them before acceptance. Avoid asking for them during the interview or before a job offer is made.
Keep looking for other jobs until you start the job you were offered. Avoid tarnishing any relationships with your old employer after you quit. If you have to return to ask for your job back, it is important to have left on good terms.
How to Avoid Rescinded Offers
Ask the employer about the number of people in the department in which you will be working during your interview. Ask how long they have been there, and what the rate of turnover is. Find out how the employer is doing financially by doing some pre-interview research on the company. See if it has a history of rescinding job offers. Ask the interviewer how strong he thinks the department is and where he sees it and the company going in the near future. Asking questions such as these can help you get a feel for the likelihood that an employer will rescind your job offer.