How to rescind a job offer professionally
Last updated on: December 30, 2022
While preparing the materials for this article, I couldn’t get the lines —The handshake seals the contract. From the contract, there is no turning back — out of my head.
For those who do not know, the above-mentioned lines are from the song Everything Counts by Depeche Mode.
And really, it seems that everything counts in the job application process.
We live in times when employers are just a few clicks away from learning anything about the professional who applies for a job.
Almost nothing can be hidden from managers and bosses — from professional records to personal viewpoints.
Therefore, employers often opt for a withdrawal of an employment offer because they subsequently see that they do not like something about the initially accepted professional.
Bearing all this in mind, in this article, we decided to conduct research and explain to you:
- Why companies opt for rescinding a job offer,
- Whether it is professional to rescind a job offer,
- How to politely rescind a job offer, and
- When you can’t rescind a job offer.
Without further ado, let us see how to rescind a job offer professionally.
Why companies rescind job offers
There are various reasons for companies to rescind their job offers.
Although some reasons might sound like excuses, those decisions are typically the results of diligent research.
Therefore, there is little room for mistakes when it comes to the withdrawal of an employment offer.
Here are the most common reasons for rescinding job offers.
Reason #1: A company begins a process of restructuring
The coronavirus pandemic has left a huge scar on the face of the business world.
As a result, the current situation in the business world can be described as hectic.
Namely, a plethora of companies go through a process of restructuring, due to which they even cut the workforce and freeze hiring.
Therefore, one can hardly be one hundred percent sure that their job offer would not be rescinded during the application process due to necessary company restructuring.
Reason #2: A company has financial problems
Unfortunately, for some companies, even the restructuring process does not help.
Namely, although they try to spare some money, offload employees, and do whatever is necessary to avoid bankruptcy, they end up in major financial problems or even insolvent.
Even though every company has an allocated budget for new hiring, unforeseen financial problems can ruin their plans and lead to rescinding an accepted job offer.
Reason #3: Candidate’s behavior and record
However, although they are useful, virtual meetings and remote interviews can often deceive interviewers.
During remote interviews, candidates often put on their best behavior and successfully hide their flaws.
Therefore, some additional checks on candidates before signing a contract are advisable.
Here are the things one can find out about a candidate that might lead to rescinding a job offer.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
To expand your knowledge about virtual meetings in general, we recommend you check out our article:
Although we are in favor of former convicts’ resocialization, it seems that some jobs are simply not intended for people with criminal records.
For example, if a person has been charged with fraud and financial crimes, one can hardly imagine them being a cashier or a bank clerk.
As a result, former convicts often opt not to disclose their criminal past and see if they will have better chances for employment then.
However, HR departments and managers often perform additional checks on applicants they want to hire and usually find out if one has a criminal record or not.
In the case of the former, companies might choose to rescind an accepted job offer and search for other candidates.
At all events, we recommend all professionals who have criminal records to not give up. There are plenty of jobs out there for you.
Hate speech on social media
Nobody likes to come to work and feel oppressed.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance to do everything in our power to make our workplace as inclusive as possible.
To prevent potential hate speech in the workplace and avoid difficult conversations about suspensions, it would be helpful to check potential new members’ posts on social media and see if there are signs of hatred towards a particular group.
Don’t get us wrong, we are not saying that one should spy on candidates or study every Twitter or Facebook post of the future employee, but just to check if an applicant would fit in the collective well.
If someone displays any kind of racism, chauvinism, or sexism, we honestly believe that that person deserves to receive an offer cancellation letter from a company.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
Hate speech leads to conflict and negative communication in the workplace. To all of you who want to learn how to prevent and cope with them, check out this article:
A drastic change in behavior during and after a job interview
What we mean by drastic changes in behavior is that a potential employee becomes disdainful and unresponsive shortly after passing the job interview or during an apprenticeship.
If someone shows signs of disdain or any kind of disruptive behavior in the workplace, it might later lead to a communication breakdown and potential unrest among the employees.
Therefore, it would not be surprising if you opt for a rescinding offer to an unresponsive candidate to keep a positive work environment untouched.
Not passing the drug test
Drug tests come after you receive a job offer— therefore, after a job interview.
If one fails the test, or in other words, if one has used some of the illegal drugs, the company reserves the right to retract an offer.
A lot of people might think that when a drug becomes legal in a state, it also means that you would pass the drug test if you have used the legalized drug before. Nonetheless, things are not like that.
There will always be jobs — e.g. in logistics, transportation, or medical care — that will require refraining from any kind of psychoactive substances.
So, potential employees should be careful with what they consume.
Reason #4: Discrepancies between the information candidate shared and the facts
H.E. Luccock, an American Methodist minister and notable professor at Yale Divinity School, once said: “No one can whistle a symphony, it takes a whole orchestra to play it”.
So, teamwork is key to the success of any company. However, the question is — what are the most crucial prerequisites for effective teamwork?
There are many essential prerequisites for that, but for us, one of the crucial is the existence of trust between team members.
Therefore, to be sure you understand that everything needs to be authentic and verified, many companies pay a lot of attention to details in your CV or resume and even recheck them after the job interview.
If you put anything that is not your own achievement or any false information in your CV, additional research on you can prove it.
Hence, the company might decide to rescind a job offer letter due to a background check.
Is it professional to rescind a job offer?
To be straightforward — yes, it is professional to rescind a job offer.
Namely, everything depends on the way one retracts an offer.
If the offer cancellation letter from the company is respectful and sent timely, a potential employee would have enough time to focus on other job opportunities. Besides, it is essential to clearly state the reason for the cancellation of a job offer.
Although potential employees might not like to hear that the offer has been rescinded, they would still understand that there has been a valid reason for the withdrawal of an employment offer.
On the other hand, not providing valid reasons for rescinding a job offer to a potential candidate is unprofessional.
Moreover, the bad image of the company that improperly rescinded a job offer would spread like wildfire among professionals, so it would be hard to find new employees.
How to rescind a job offer professionally?
It is essential to follow a certain procedure before rescinding an accepted job offer if you want it to look professional.
Here are some tips that you must consider before you decide to retract an offer.
Tip #1: Think through the reasons for rescinding a job offer
Sometimes, the aforementioned causes can make you reconsider and, eventually, rescind a job offer. We do not need to explain further why a company can opt for the withdrawal of an employment offer.
However, we need to emphasize that it is paramount to think twice about the reasons for rescinding a job offer.
Namely, if you choose a certain professional among plenty of other people in the job market, it means that they have great value and can be a great addition to your team.
Therefore, it would be a pity if you give up on them too easily.
So, we recommend you think twice before making a final decision, and go through the following processes:
- See if the reasons for rescinding a job offer are credible,
- Consult with your colleagues,
- Check if certain amendments can be made to accept the candidate after all, and,
- Think about what your next moves in the job market will be if you still need to rescind an offer.
Tip #2: Make sure you are legally protected before rescinding a job offer
The devil is in the details, isn’t it?
When you run a job application process, it is essential to pay attention to every single detail of the process.
Namely, keeping records of the process might become handy if you opt to rescind a job offer.
Thanks to the process records, legal advisors can check if everything has been done in accordance with the law, and most importantly, if there is room for any kind of lawsuits that the candidate might want to file.
Now, when we mention lawsuits, bear in mind that there is a legal principle called “Promissory Estoppel.” This principle is in force in the USA and a few more countries, and it helps injured parties to recover from the financial or any other kind of loss caused by a broken promise or agreement.
However, if you have done everything according to the law and checked the process records with your legal advisor, you do not have to worry about lawsuits caused by the decision to rescind a job offer.
Tip #3: Notify a candidate about the decision to rescind a job offer
In order to look professional and to be fair to the candidate whose job offer you have decided to rescind, it is important to notify them timely and officially via a letter, email, or team communication apps, like Pumble.
Bear in mind that the last mentioned option is available only if you have shared access to the team communication app with them after the job interview or, for example, during the apprenticeship period.
As we have stated before, your offer rescind letter/email/message should be:
- Punctual, and
- Clear (in the sense that it is clearly stated why the job offer has been rescinded.).
Also, if the reason for rescinding a job offer is restructuring or budgeting issues, state that your company will review sending a new job offer to the candidate once the problems have been resolved.
Rescinding a job offer sample letters
Here are some useful sample letters for rescinding an accepted job offer.
You can use them for inspiration or as templates.
Example #1 of rescinding a job offer
Dear [candidate’s name],
We are sorry to inform you that we have to rescind a job offer for the position of [the name of the position] at [the company name]. After careful consideration, we decided to rescind your offer because [the reason for rescinding a job offer].
Please bear in mind that [the name of the company] is not legally bound to give you employment or any kind of compensation, as we have not signed a binding agreement.
We wish you all the best in the future, and we hope that you will find a job that will be suitable for your qualifications.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our [the role of the representative] via [their email address] or [their phone number].
We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause, and we are grateful for your understanding.
Example #2 of rescinding a job offer
Dear [name of the candidate],
We regret to inform you that your job offer for the position of [the name of the position] at [the name of the company] has been retracted. We have to do this due to [the reason for rescinding a job offer].
This [letter/message/email] serves to inform you that your job offer is no longer active and that our company is not bound to give you employment or any kind of compensation because no binding contract has been signed.
If you have any questions please contact our [the role of the representative, and their name] via [their email address] or [their phone number].
We wish you all the best, and we are grateful for your understanding.
Example #3 of rescinding a job offer
Dear [the name of the candidate],
We are sorry to inform you that our company has decided to rescind an offer of employment for the position of [the name of the position]. Unfortunately, we are currently in the process of restructuring/coping with financial problems, so it has been decided that there will be no new additions to the team for now.
Also, this [letter/email/message] serves to notify you that our company has no obligation to compensate or employ you, due to the fact that no binding agreement has been signed.
We hope that you understand our situation and that you will find a new role that suits your ambition and competence.
If you have any questions, please contact our [the role and the name of the representative] via [their email address] or [their phone number].
All the best,
When rescinding a job offer is not an option?
When one’s decision to rescind a job offer is motivated by discriminatory reasons, then rescinding a job offer is not an option.
Here are some of the most common discriminatory reasons for rescinding a job offer:
- Sexual orientation,
- Whistleblowing activities in the past.
If a candidate considers that their offer has been retracted due to any of the aforementioned reasons, they have a right to file a lawsuit against the company.
It is important to fight against discrimination, therefore, we urge you all to report it if you see it.
Conclusion: Prevention is better than cure
Finding the right person for a certain position is often a daunting task.
You put a lot of effort into research, logistics, and interview preparation — and just when you think that the selection process is over, something unforeseen happens, so you have to rescind a job offer.
It is a huge disappointment when additional research, change in behavior, or force majeure like restructuring causes the withdrawal of the employment offer you sent to the chosen professional.
But in any case, it is better to retract your job offer, than to suffer later because the new employee proved to be a bad addition to the team.
✉️ Has your company ever needed to rescind a job offer? What were the reasons for doing so? Do you think it is professional to rescind a job offer? How would you feel if a company would withdraw your job offer?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in this or future blog posts. Also, if you found this blog post useful, share it with someone you think would also benefit from it.