Rescinded Job Offers: What They Are and What You Can Do

Written by Coursera • Updated on

While rare, there may be times when a company withdraws its offer of employment before you begin a new role. Learn more about rescinded offers and what you can do if it happens to you.

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Rescinded job offers are not common, but there may be times when a company’s needs change, and they withdraw a job offer—either shortly after making it or shortly before a new employee’s start date. Learning that your new job offer has been rescinded can be a difficult—and emotional—situation that can leave you feeling upset, disappointed, or possibly even concerned about what you’re going to do next. These feelings are all completely normal. 

Although a rescinded offer can seem like a setback, viewing it as an opportunity to reevaluate your career goals and find a role (and company) that will support your professional growth can be a helpful perspective shift. In this article, we’ll go over what to do when your job offer gets rescinded, why it happens, and what you can do to prevent the situation in the future.

What to do if your job offers gets rescinded 

When a job offer gets rescinded, it means that a company has withdrawn its offer of employment before your first day. In that situation, you can take a few steps to gather more information and explore your options. Let’s go over each one. 

1. Request feedback.

No matter how you find out about your rescinded offer—via email or phone call—ask for feedback. Ideally schedule a follow-up call with the hiring manager or an HR representative to request more information to better understand what happened. Whatever you learn may be helpful as you consider your options and begin a new job search. 

During the call, determine whether the offer was withdrawn for a corporate reason, such as sudden budget cuts, or whether something else happened to change their minds. For example, if there was an issue with one of your references or your background check, that feedback could prove helpful as you start applying to new jobs.  

2. Remain neutral when communicating.

It may be tempting to express what you’re really feeling when you communicate with anyone at the company about your offer being rescinded. As much as possible, remain neutral. The company’s hiring needs could change at some point in the future, and based on how you handle the situation, they might consider you for other roles. Beyond that, the people you interviewed with could eventually end up at other companies, and the impression you leave with them might lead to other opportunities. 

3. Give yourself time to process.

Rejection can hurt. Give yourself time to work through it. Talk to a mentor, a close friend or family member, a trusted coworker, or a professional who can help you process this change in direction. Doing so can help you approach your job search with a clearer perspective. 

4. Consider your options.

It’s natural to feel discombobulated when your job offer gets withdrawn. After all, you were set to start a new opportunity and now you’re facing a different outcome. If you’ve already resigned from your former company, you may also feel pressure to line up another job. But, ultimately, you have options:  

  • Speak with your former manager: If you liked your last job and you left on good terms, consider reaching out to your former manager to see if there’s an opportunity to get your job back, explore a different role, or even take on freelance or contract work while you continue searching for a new full-time position.

  • Reach out to your network: Use LinkedIn and other professional platforms to crowdsource new opportunities. You don’t need to disclose the details of your rescinded offer if you’d prefer not to. Instead, summarize your experience and skill set, and ask for referrals to relevant openings. 

  • Apply and interview: If you were in the middle of a job search when you accepted the now-rescinded offer, keep reaching out to and interviewing with other companies. Otherwise, take a moment to reevaluate your career goals or review your career development plan, and then keep searching and applying for new openings.   

  • Seek out informational interviews: As part of your networking efforts, seek out informational interviews at companies where you’re interested in working. These can be with employees working in your field or those doing something you aspire to. The information you gather as part of these interviews and the connections you make along the way can all be beneficial. 

  • Continue learning: Each role is an opportunity to grow and expand on your skill set, but that learning doesn’t always have to take place through work. Enroll in a free course or sign up to complete a professional certificate and gain important career-ready skills that many potential employers seek in job candidates. 

Learn more: 6 Common Career Goals + Examples

Reasons why a company rescinds an offer

A company can let you go for a variety of reasons that aren’t discriminatory. For example, if their budget suddenly shifts or a project direction changes, they may reevaluate their hiring needs. 

Common reasons why companies rescind an offer include: 

  • Staffing needs change: Between hiring you and your start date, something may shift in terms of the company’s staffing needs, so they decide to cut recently hired roles.  

  • Budget: Although a company may initially have had the budget to hire for your role, sudden and unexpected financial changes may prompt them to review their finances, determining that it’s best to cut new hires and tighten hiring practices. 

  • Issues with background check: For many companies, employment is contingent upon successfully passing a background check. When that doesn’t happen—when there may be a flag or issue that arises—a company can rescind an offer. 

  • Misleading information on resume: A company may check your references or confirm the dates of your employment with former companies. Any incorrect information could lead to a rescinded offer. 

  • Negative reference: Some companies wait to contact references until they’ve made an initial verbal offer. If one of your references gives negative feedback, a company may reconsider your candidacy and rescind the offer. 

  • Behavioral issue: There may be times when a company rescinds an offer over concerns about a new employee’s behavior, such as inappropriate or offensive posts on social media, before they officially begin. 

3 ways to potentially avoid a rescinded job offer 

It’s not always possible to avoid an offer being rescinded, especially when a company’s staffing or budgetary needs are behind the decision. But there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself. 

1. Don’t resign until your new offer is official. 

As much as possible, wait until you have passed your background check and all remaining requirements before turning in your notice at your current company. 

There may be times when your new company needs to issue a start date before sending you an offer letter. In that case, it may be worth asking whether you can begin work in three or four weeks rather than two, which may give you time to clear all pre-employment checks before turning in your notice.   

2. Make sure all the information you share is correct.

The information you provide on your application should always be truthful because any misleading or incorrect information could be flagged. Review your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and other materials you share as part of your job application, ensuring that everything is accurate. 

3. Get ahead of your background check.

If there’s a chance that a background check might raise a potential flag, be proactive and speak with your hiring manager or an HR representative in advance. Alerting them to the issue, and explaining what happened to the extent you feel comfortable, is a means of effective communication and can help you take control of the conversation before it possibly develops into a bigger problem.  

Explore further 

A rescinded offer may feel like a setback, but it can be helpful to view it as a reset. Enroll for free in Advanced Interviewing Techniques from the University of Maryland on Coursera, or explore what you need to build a strong Indeed or LinkedIn profile with one of Coursera’s Guided Projects.

You can also strengthen your resume by building in-demand skills for lucrative careers in project management, UX design, data science, marketing analytics, and sales. Earn a Professional Certificate from leading companies like Google, Meta, and IBM, all available on Coursera. 

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