What to Do If a Job Offer Falls Through

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. A company offers you a job, but before you can start your first day, the offer falls through. Whatever the reasons (if any), you have to start your job search all over again.

job offer falls through

It’s a horrible position to be in, one that leaves you disappointed, stunned, and unsure of how to handle it. What do you do if a job offer falls through? Let’s find out.

Legal Remedy

You’re unlikely to have any legal recourse here. United States labor law uses an employment-at-will doctrine. This means employers are allowed to fire an employee or terminate a position at any time and for any reason (or no reason at all). The only exception is if the offer was rescinded in a way that violated your rights or broke labor laws—for example, as a form of discrimination.

It’s not all bad, though. At-will employment also protects employees by allowing them to quit their job at any time and for any reason (or, again, no reason at all).

Salvaging A Bad Situation

While you can’t legally force the company to make good on its original offer, you can take this bad situation and salvage at least something out of the circumstances. Here are some ways to do that:

Find out the exact reason. Contact the company to find out why the position fell through. If it was economical or the result of internal restructuring, you’ll at least know it wasn’t your fault. However, if it was due to a bad reference or background check, you can then take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Negotiate. If the reason is economical, and you’re still interested in working at the company, you may be able to negotiate a new offer that entices the organization to hire you. But be very careful not to be taken advantage of. If the company won’t give you a fair wage for your work it isn’t a place you want to be.

Ask for your old job back. If you left on good terms, you may be able to get your old job back. Only do this if you intend to stay there for a while. It isn’t fair to your old employer if you plan to immediately begin the job search again.

Double-check the contract. If the company drops you but you already have a contract, inquire about any bonuses, advances, or the anything else that may be owed to you.

Move on. The sooner you accept the job is a no go, the sooner you can start work toward your next goal.

Regardless of which steps you take, remember to keep it professional. Don’t get angry or badmouth the company. This is especially important online, where potential employers may see your ranting and be turned off.

Put On Hold

What if the offer is rescinded, but the company says the position will open up down the road? This situation is tricky but manageable.

First, clearly communicate whether or not you’re still interested in the role. If you are still interested, lock in a person to follow up with and a time when you’ll do so. If you call back and the position remains unavailable, you may be in a holding pattern. It’s up to you to decide if you want to continue to pursue the position, but know when it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

Whatever you do, don’t be at a standstill while you wait. Keep working or applying to other jobs in the meantime.

Preventative Measures

There’s no foolproof way to prevent job offers from falling through. It happens. But there are ways to better prepare yourself so these kinds of situations are less likely to occur.

  • Research the company to see if they have a high turnover rate or make a habit of broken promises.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with the company and the job before accepting the offer. If you’re uncomfortable, move on.
  • Don’t quit your old job or relocate until the job offer is firm, preferably in writing. Most companies won’t go through all the trouble of a contract unless they plan to keep you on.
  • Have a contingency plan. Anything is better than nothing.

With these preventative measures, we hope you won’t have to ask yourself what to do if a job offer falls through. But if you do, you know how to salvage the situation for the better and can quickly readjust your path to a new job.

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