Having a job offer rescinded is never a fun experience. But understanding why it happened can help you prevent it from happening again.
The most common reasons for rescinded job offers are internal company restructuring, changes in market demand, and unforeseen budget constraints. Though unlikely to change the outcome, the best way to respond is with a professional email thanking the company for their consideration and requesting clarification on the cause of the revoked offer.
In this article, we'll discuss why companies rescind job offers, how to respond (including email templates you can use), and tips to prevent it from happening to you.
Are companies allowed to rescind job offers?
Unfortunately, yes, an employer can rescind an offer of employment at any time.
Job offers are considered contracts for "employment at will," meaning both employer and employee can withdraw from the agreement without cause. Only once a formal employment contract is signed are both parties officially locked into the terms of employment, such as duration, compensation, and grounds for termination.
Do employers need specific reasons to legally rescind a job offer?
Employers can cancel or revoke a job offer for any reason, as long as that reason is not based on discriminatory factors like gender, sex or race. If a candidate feels an offer was unfairly withdrawn based on discrimination, there will likely be legal consequences for the employer.
The specific laws around rescinded job offers and wrongful dismissal depend on your country, state, and province, so always check your local laws to understand your rights regarding employment security.
Why companies might rescind a job offer
A rescinded job offer is not always due to an issue with your application. While poor references and a dishonest resume can be the cause, job offers can be withdrawn for many reasons, from internal company politics to external market factors. While some of these causes can be mitigated, some are unfortunately out of your hands.
Negative references from a previous employer will often lead to a rescinded offer. This can be due to over-exaggeration on your resume, poor working relationship with your employer, or discrepancies in how a you and your employer describe the responsibilities of your position.
Failed background checks
Background checks are standard practice for many industries, especially healthcare, law enforcement, and government positions. If a job offer was rescinded after a background check, the check likely revealed information that wasn't previously discussed - such as a criminal record - causing your potential employer to revoke the offer.
If a company faces financial instability, leadership changes, or a shift in focus, this can cause a freeze in hiring that will affect any active job offers.
If a company experiences internal restructuring or layoffs after a change in leadership or financial difficulties, they will likely rescind outstanding job offers while they reallocate resources.
A downturn in the market, the loss of a large contract or client, or an unexpected financial crisis can cause a job offer to be withdrawn as the company no longer has the finances to hire new employees.
When hiring teams disagree on whether or not they need to fill a vacancy, candidates can find their application accepted and later rescinded as the team reconsiders their need for the proposed position.
Surprising as it may seem, your boss-to-be might rescind your job offer due to your being overqualified, because they fear that you will quickly seek a more challenging role.
Reassessment of job requirements
If the employer changes the responsibilities of the position they are hiring for (combining multiple roles or expanding the scope of the position), your job offer might be rescinded as your skills may no longer align with the requirements.
Change in demand
Between hiring you for a position and your potential start date, a company might rescind your offer if they no longer need an additional employee due to market fluctuation or decreased demand.
The company's preferred candidate accepted the offer
If an employer's first-choice candidate initially turned down the position but subsequently accepts the offer, other candidates offers might be rescinded as the position is now filled by a more qualified candidate.
What to do when a company rescinds a job offer
If a company provides a valid reason for rescinding a job offer, such as finding a stronger candidate, unfortunately, there is nothing to do but accept the situation, thank the company for their consideration, and continue your job search. If there was a problem with your resume, such as over-exaggeration or poor references, make sure to correct these issues before applying for other positions.
Before applying for a job, use the tool below to check that your resume accurately showcases your relevant experience and skills without exaggeration. It will identify any mistakes and offer suggestions for improvement, helping you avoid any issues that could lead to a rescinded job offer.
How to respond to a rescinded offer
Despite the less-than-favorable situation, always respond professionally to a rescinded job offer. This will maintain a good working relationship with the company and a positive, professional reputation that could lead to an alternate offer further down the road.
Write to the hiring manager to find out why the offer was rescinded
If the recruiter or hiring manager didn't give a reason why the offer was rescinded, reach out in an email to ask for clarification. This will likely not change the decision but will provide constructive guidance for improving your next application.
Follow the email template below when reaching out after a revoked offer:
Subject: Seeking Clarification on the Rescinded Job Offer
Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out to you regarding the recent withdrawal of the job offer for the [Position Name] role at [Company Name]. I was surprised by the decision and would greatly appreciate some clarity on the matter to help me better understand the circumstances.
While I understand that situations can change, and decisions are made for various reasons, I believe that understanding the specific factors that led to the offer being rescinded would be valuable for my professional growth and future job search endeavors.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Please feel free to respond to this email or contact me directly at [Your Phone Number].
Once again, thank you for considering my candidacy, and I appreciate your assistance in this matter.
Ask about alternate options
If the position you applied for is no longer available, consider inquiring about alternative roles within the company that align with your skills. If the offer was rescinded due to internal restructuring or layoffs, consider asking about alternate solutions that could benefit both you and the company, such as adjusted start dates or a temporary contract.
Follow the email template below, or one of our other professional networking email templates:
Subject: Request for Discussion Regarding the Rescinded Job Offer
Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to reach out to discuss the recent rescission of the job offer for the [Position Name] role at [Company Name]. While I understand that circumstances can change unexpectedly, I am genuinely interested in exploring potential alternatives, given my strong interest in joining your team.
I would like to propose a conversation to explore potential solutions or alternatives that align with both my career aspirations and [Company Name]'s current situation. I am open to discussing adjusted start dates, temporary or contract positions, or any other creative approaches that would allow me to contribute to the team during this challenging period.
Please let me know a convenient time for you to discuss this further, either through a phone call or a video conference. I am eager to hear your insights and explore potential avenues for collaboration.
Thank you for considering my request, and I appreciate your willingness to engage in this discussion.
Looking forward to the opportunity to speak with you.
Acquire new skills to make yourself a stronger candidate
If a job offer is rescinded due to a more qualified candidate, consider acquiring new skills to enhance your resume and make your application more competitive.
How to prevent rescinded job offers
Unfortunately, many factors can lead to a rescinded job offer that are out of your hands, like market instability or company restructuring. But you can control the honesty of your resume, who you chose as a reference, and which companies you apply to in the first place.
Be honest on your application
Ensure all the information on your resume is accurate and you're not exaggerating or misrepresenting your experience. Target your resume to each individual application to make sure your skills and experience align with the position you’re applying for.
One way to target your resume to the job you’re applying for is to include keywords that are relevant to that industry in your resume. Use the tool below to find the right ones.
Choose your references wisely
If you have concerns about a previous employer providing a negative reference, choose a different reference. Inform everyone you plan to use as a reference in advance as a common courtesy to avoid surprises.
Address any potential concerns in the interview
If there are any gaps in your resume, be honest and open about discussing these during your interview. Highlight what you learned during this time to frame any employment gaps in a positive way.
The same goes for being fired from a previous position - be honest about it upfront and it doesn't have to negatively impact your application. Briefly mention that you left to pursue different goals, and again, focus on the positive by detailing your desire for change and skill acquisition rather than the negative aspect of being let go.
Research the company
Some companies might have a poor reputation for rescinding job offers or high employee turnover, both of which are red flags. Platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor can offer insight into a company's hiring practices and work culture through employee reviews and help you ensure you're applying to the right companies in the first place.