May 4, 2009

Yes, Virginia, offers sometimes get rescinded

Filed under: For Managers, Hiring, Interviewing, Job Search

This is a very painful experience. Sometimes, though, an employer shows integrity and the job candidate reveals common sense. This reader has been through the mill, but has survived and gained an unexpected benefit…

I just read your article The company rescinded the offer (Ask The Headhunter newsletter, 4/14/09 — too late to get that edition but not too late to become a subscriber — it’s free!) and was astonished to learn this situation is not uncommon.

Back in February I received and signed a written offer. Four days later, I got a call from the COO who delivered the news that we needed to push my start date out from March to April. Since this company is a small start-up, they’re running their business on a month-to-month basis. In between making an offer and pushing out my start date, the company lost two forecasted deals in their pipeline that shook their stability. The following week, one of their customers went into bankruptcy. The COO wanted to remain in contact and we agreed to talk weekly and he kept his promise. We talked every Friday and I got an update on the situation. It became apparent towards the end of March that the April start date wasn’t going to happen either. 

I had a quick thought about contacting an employment lawyer but chose not to. Would you have handled this situation differently, and how? 

(I did go back to the COO when I found a company that might be a potential partner for them. This company also happened to be looking for someone just like me! So I asked the COO to introduce me to the CEO and provide a reference for me. He happily obliged and gave me a wonderful reference. This hasn’t gone anywhere, but I think it speaks to the COO’s values and I was appreciative. And in the meantime, I’m still searching…)

I think the COO has class and good sense, and he used it in difficult circumstances. You made no mistake in foregoing legal action. You have made a valuable friend. Stay in touch with him. He probably has other friends he can refer you to. And don’t be surprised that if his company goes down, and he resurfaces somewhere else, you’re not one of his first hires. Thanks for sharing the story.

One Comment on “Yes, Virginia, offers sometimes get rescinded”
By Dave M.
May 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

Great story. Wish more folks were like this COO.

Back in August, I was offered a position as a lead after just a phone interview. I made a modest counteroffer and after a few weeks of silence during alleged “management and Customer discussions”, the recruiter (not HR; don’t think they had one) come out of nowhere and insisted on a pay stub from my current employer, which I declined (having already explained to this person several times about salary confidentiality). The offer was rescinded the next day. Although I was dismayed (it sounded like a great job), I’m still glad I did it (having recalled Nick’s super advice on salary disclosure).

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