Usually, a job follows a job offer, but not always.
Some unfortunate job candidates find themselves in difficult circumstances when a job offer is rescinded by a company that may only recently have extended a job offer. How can this happen?
The reasons vary but sometimes the hiring company found some sort of discrepancy between the information the candidate provided and what they learned before the individual actually came on board. For example, the candidate lied about past earnings, or failed the pre-employment drug test, or perhaps verification about a degree didn’t check out.
However, today companies are rescinding job offers based on budget, workforce reductions, or inappropriate social media profiles/postings. Some people are hired so far in advance of their start date that an organization’s financial stability or overall corporate health changes in the interim. Sometimes line managers or even HR aren’t privy to decision that will cause this kind of discomfort and panic to the almostemployee. It isn’t fair and it sounds illegal, but in employment at-will states like New York, it does happen, unfortunately. An employer can rescind a job offer at any time, but there are some things a candidate can do that will help protect you from this rotten turn of events.
Once an offer has been extended to you, but before you accept, depending on the type of industry or position, you may want to ask the hiring authority the following questions. In a very friendly non-confrontational way, make a statement such as, “I’m very excited about the prospect of working with your firm, I was wondering if you would just answer a few questions about your workforce.”
- How many people are currently in this department?
- Has this amount increased or decreased over the past year?
- Is this likely to be an at-risk position if business were to decline?
It’s a fine line between keeping yourself from being blindsided and being annoying to your prospective employer, so tread lightly. If it’s a public company, you may just want to review how their earnings look. Tap into your business circle by networking and finding out what the buzz is about the firm. Read their recent press releases. Google them for news stories.
When an offer is extended, ask to get it in writing in a formal letter – not just as an e-mail or offer by phone. You can ask for all the details to be included, such as start date, salary, benefits, job title, and, if pertinent, a sign-on bonus. Send a formal acceptance letter to further document your commitment. This may not protect you in court, but it can help you gain an edge should your offer be rescinded. In such a case you might be able to ask for your sign-on bonus or a month’s salary because you accepted in good faith and the organization may want to do damage control, or they may just feel guilty.
Keep your search going until your actual start date. Do not burn bridges with any prospective employers in your loop (or the company you recently vacated). If you were in the running at another firm and turned them down earlier, call them back and let them know circumstances have changed and you are still available. Try to maintain a fall-back plan because mistaking a job offer for job security is like counting your chickens before they hatch, especially if your prospective employer turns out to be a bad egg!