With recession, job offers are rescinded or starting dates pushed back
Be professional -- how you react may determine if the offer returns
Expert: Do not stop looking for work until your first day at a new job
Before accepting a job, ask about the employer's financial health
by Rachel ZupekCareerBuilder.com writer
Editor's note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.
"Your reaction to the retraction of a job offer may determine whether the offer is ever returned.
Fired before you're hired
is a trend that's becoming more common as with the stagnating. As companies downsize and institute hiring freezes, job seekers are finding start dates pushed back and job offers withdrawn completely.
"Job offers are rescinded for a variety of reasons. Some [are] external, such as the overall economy, some [are] internal such as a department's funding is cut," says Laura George, author of "Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting." "There are also times when it's determined that a person is needed but it would be more cost-effective to hire one person to work in two or more departments and spread the costs."
No matter the reason your job offer is repealed, experts agree that you should respond to the situation in a professional manner and get to the bottom of what happened.
"If your offer has been rescinded, you must find out what the exact reasons behind the decision were. Were they economically based or due to a background, drug or reference check?" says Jonathan Mazzocchi, partner and general manager of the New York accounting and finance division of Winter, Wyman. "As hard as it is, gather the facts. Try to separate the people you interviewed with from the organization's decision, and keep all of your interactions professional."
In Graham's case, for example, when the first offer was revoked, the company never explained what was going on; they just said the paperwork was in and they were waiting. In the meantime, she lived off her savings and put her job search on hold. The second company, which told her the job was placed on hold "indefinitely," said they would keep her mind for the future, but she hasn't heard anything yet.
"Once I found out that my offer was no longer viable, I quickly started to search for another position, but it was more difficult to find something by that time," she says.
Unfortunately, you don't have many legal rights in this situation. Most states have employment-at-will policies, which means employees can be terminated at any time, for any reason. You should think long and hard before pursuing legal action if a job offer is revoked -- litigation costs will be extensive and you will undoubtedly burn bridges with your would-be employer. Consult an HR expert or lawyer in your area about your options.
It's important to handle the situation professionally if you find yourself with a rescinded job offer. Here are six steps you can take to protect yourself:
1. Find out why
Find out the exact reason behind the withdrawn offer.
2. Be open and honest
" If you are still interested in the job, let them know your finances. Can you wait six months to start?"
Or, let the employer know you will wait for the full-time position.
"If you simply can't wait for the position to re-open, don't be shy about it," Luzar says. "You came looking for a job because you needed one. Respectively tell them so that if you are looking for a job again in the future, they will still have a high opinion of you."
3. Prepare yourself
"Graham says the biggest lesson she learned was that nothing is a done deal until you are sitting in your new office or cubicle.
4. Do your homework
Doughtery says, "Before accepting a job offer, it's important to ask if the position is approved, Ask if an offer was ever withdrawn and if so, what was done in the past. If the withdrawal of a vacant position is a real threat, ask if your offer letter can state what the company will do if the job offer is withdrawn."
If you left an old job to work for a new company , you can try to negotiate unemployment benefits or a severance package from the employer, Mazzocchi says. Or, you can try negotiating for a lower salary or position.
6. Move on
Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, says"If nothing comes from negotiating with your would-be employer.contact companies others taht expressed interest in the past and let them know you are still available". Don't badmouth the organization that pulled back your offer.
In the meantime, continue your job search, going to school to maintain and enhance your skills, volunteering with nonprofit organizations and growing your own business.
"Keep positive. Something viable will eventually come your way if you don't give up."
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