Can a Written Job Offer Be Retracted?

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When you are offered a job, you may get excited and hope for the best with your new position. As you make preparations, one of the things you may not expect to receive from the company is a letter rescinding the offer. There are numerous reasons why a job offer — even a written offer — might be retracted. Should you find yourself in this situation, consider a few tips when moving forward.

Legal Ramifications

There is nothing illegal or unethical about an employer extending a written job offer, only to rescind it down the line. In fact, while you may be excited about a position, until you sign an employment contract, there is nothing to stop the employer from changing course and going with another candidate, or doing away with the position altogether. If you had signed an employment contract, your employer would then be in breach of contract, and you would have some recourse.

Reasons

There may be numerous reasons why an employer would retract a written job offer. Perhaps the financials of the company have shifted in the short time since the offer was made, making it less financially viable to sustain a new full-time employee. Or perhaps the company was hasty in making the offer, and instead feels as though another candidate was more qualified for the position. Something could have also come back on your background check that took you out of the running.

Next Steps

It is acceptable, when the written offer is retracted, to ask what you did wrong or could have done differently that might result in a different outcome for future job prospects. Ask the human resources representative for specifics, so you know whether you need to improve, or if there is something of which you should be aware on your background check. If the company seems unwilling to even communicate, then your best bet is to move on and keep looking for another job.

Additional Considerations

Keep in mind that while it's acceptable to get excited when you receive a written job offer, don't make permanent moves until the ink is dry on your employment contract. Things could always change before you step foot in the office, causing the retraction. Also, ask in the interview about the possibility of a retraction, and how the process works for that particular organization.

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