What to Do When Your Job Offer is Withdrawn

The protocol to follow when your offer is revoked.

What to Do When Your Job Offer is Withdrawn

If you feel uneasy about the reason behind a rescinded offer, consult with an employment attorney to determine what may be done. "Though I am a defense attorney, if a friend or someone in my family came to me and asked about their legal options [because a job offer was revoked] I would first talk to them about the common law issues," Waerig concludes. "I'd ask them when the initial offer was made and when the employer revoked it. I'd ask them if they actually agreed to take the job. I'd ask them if they moved or relocated their family because of the job. I'd want to know if the employer gave a reason for the revocation and if the reason sounds legitimate."

What do I tell people? Friends, family and contacts are going to ask what happened, and for most people, Gottsman advocates, "Don't show any shame. Just say, 'I was given an offer, and circumstances with the company changed.'" You can use the same stock answer on the off (though rare) chance that you're asked about it by another potential employer. "Remember that you're not obligated to talk about it, and in a lot of cases, you yourself might not know the specific details of why the offer was withdrawn anyway," she adds.

If you were leaving an old job to go to the now-thwarted one, then you'll have to say something to your old employers. It's a bad idea to try to revoke your notice, but you could possibly extend it. Being honest with them about your current circumstances will also keep you from burning bridges. "There are a lot of possibilities as long as you're honest, and there's no reason you couldn't ask for some extra time [to find a new job]," Gottsman explains. "If you have good communication with the old company and they valued you as a good employee, they'll want to accommodate you if they can. And it will probably help them out to not have the position vacant while they try to fill your position."

How do I prevent this from happening again? Bad luck happens on the job hunt, and there are too many reasons behind a retracted offer to stopgap each of them from ever happening. Here are things you can do to lessen the pain:

1. Do proper due diligence. If you're interested in working for a company, then you need to know about its corporate health. Read up on the press it's received, and click beyond the first page of search results when doing so. Study employee reviews reported on Glassdoor.com. During interviews, "Don't be embarrassed to ask them questions about the tenure of most employees, about corporate culture and listen to your gut. It will tell you if something isn't right," Gottsman says.

2. Hold off on sudden moves until you have a formal job offer. A verbal offer is flimsy proof, as is your verbal consent. Also remember that you don't have a job just because you were offered one. You have to weigh the decision, negotiate the terms and accept them, and even then, you still need to ask for a written offer. After you receive that written offer you should send them a written acceptance letter. Do not give your notice at your old job until you have copies of both letters. Also hold off on making definitive relocation plans – if relocation is necessary – until you've received this confirmation.

[Read: How to Ruin Your Professional Reputation.]

3. Don't ever stop your job search. Getting a job offer is exciting, but nothing is guaranteed until you arrive your first day and receive the bathroom code and a key fob to the underground parking lot. Job searching is an ongoing process throughout your career, regardless of tenure and satisfaction with a current place of employment, but if you've yet to report for duty and fill out your W-2s on a new job, then you should still consider yourself an active job seeker.