Rescinded Offers and Hiring Freezes: What They Mean For Job Seekers
COVID-19 has taken an unfortunate toll on the workforce. While job losses and furloughs have been well documented, many people are also reporting that their job offers—and internship offers—have been put on hold. And while the pandemic is having an outsized impact on employment right now, it’s not as though hiring freezes or losing a job offer are new phenomenons.
That said, in most cases, when a job offer is put on hold or even rescinded, it’s not your fault. And while you may be out of a job, there are some things you can do to keep moving forward (regardless of the circumstances) when you find out about a hiring freeze or your job offer is put on hold.
Rescinded Job Offers vs. Hiring Freezes (Or Holds)
First, let’s discuss the difference between a hiring freeze (or a job offer being put on hold) and your job offer being rescinded.
When a job offer is rescinded, that means the company is no longer offering you the job. In general, there are two reasons why an offer is rescinded. The first reason is that after the offer was made, the company found new information about you and decided you were not the right fit for their company. You’ll likely never find out what that information is, and it could be anything from seeing something they didn’t like on your social media to talking to your former coworker who already works at the company.
The second reason a job offer is rescinded is when the company’s financial circumstances changed suddenly and drastically. For example, the company had to conduct a massive recall of their new product, there’s a sudden investigation into the company, or external forces deplete demand for the company’s offerings (i.e., the coronavirus pandemic).
Sudden financial changes can also result in your offer being put on hold. When your job offer is on hold, it means the company would still like to hire you but can’t right now. And, the company likely can’t tell you exactly if and when they will hire you in the future. In either case, consider it a blessing that you are not working for the company. While circumstances can improve rapidly, you are probably better off elsewhere when the company is in a sticky situation.
Why Do Companies Freeze Job Offers?
In general, if you were recently in the process of interviewing for a new job or had a job offer and were told there was a hiring freeze or your offer is on hold, it’s likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are facing an uncertain future and needed to freeze hiring and, in some cases, resort to laying off and/or furloughing workers.
That said, it’s not totally uncommon for job offers to get put on hold, and hiring freezes happen even when there isn’t a pandemic.
So, here’s how to put together a game plan.
When You Find Out a Job Is on Hold During the Interview Process
You’re far more likely to hear about a hiring freeze during the application or interviewing process. To be clear, a hiring freeze means the company isn’t hiring anybody from the outside. Positions may still be filled by internal candidates.That said, if you hear about a hiring freeze during the interview (or even post-interview when you’re waiting for an offer), consider yourself lucky. It’s better to know about these freezes before you get a job offer and quit your old job. It also positions you for future success.
Depending on how far along in the application and interview process you were, you probably have some good information about how well you’ve performed as a candidate. You know your cover letter and resume are working, as well as your answers to interview questions. So, take that knowledge and use it to land your next job.
Navigating Around Hiring Freezes
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do when there’s a hiring freeze, or your job offer is placed on hold. However, there are steps you can take to figure out if you should wait around for the freeze to end or if you should continue with your job search.
First, ask why the offer is on hold. You may not get an answer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Ask if the hiring process has slowed or stopped (because there is a difference). If it’s stopped, you may never get a job with that company. If it’s slowed, there’s still a chance you’ll be hired. But ask for a timeline of when hiring will pick back up. Again, you may not get an answer, but any answer you do get should give you an idea of what’s happening in the company, and what you can expect.
If you’re given specific answers, that’s great, but don’t count on them unless you get them in writing. And, if you get vague, general answers (which is more likely the case), thank your contact and continue your job search.
Even in the best of economic times, you probably should not wait around for a job offer that’s on hold or for a hiring freeze to lift. Unless you can get a guarantee in writing that the freeze will be over in a certain amount of time and you will be hired on X date, you’re better off resuming your job search.
While it’s possible a job with that company may materialize, you may have to wait months, or even years, before that happens. And, while you’re waiting around, you may miss out on an amazing opportunity.
What Steps Should You Take During the Pandemic
Learning about a hiring freeze during the interview process is hard. But having an offer withdrawn is probably harder—especially if you’ve already left your old job. And if you had a job offer prior to the pandemic that’s now been withdrawn, what—if anything—can you do?
First, don’t let it get you down. As Besty Andrews, Career Coach at FlexJobs, points out, “Some companies are pulling back. But not all. It’s an important time to keep relationships positive with these employers, so that you are the first person the HR manager thinks of when they start moving forward.”
So, make sure you keep up a professional relationship with the company. As irritated as you might be, now is not the time to burn any bridges. Connect with your company contact on LinkedIn and share useful articles with them. Email that person periodically to “check-in” and see what is going on, without being pushy. Consider sharing some accomplishments with them, like you just closed a new deal or earned a new certification.
If you’re up for it, you might want to see if the company is willing to take you on “temporarily” until their financial fortunes improve. They might be willing to turn your withdrawn job offer into a freelance or contractor position for a few months. This may not be the ideal situation for you, but it may be a good solution for the time being.
Learn About the Company
One silver lining to a job freeze is that you’ll learn a lot about how a company handles a crisis. Even though you won’t get a behind the scenes look, by paying attention to how the company treats its employees now, you’ll get an idea of how it treats them all the time.
Using the pandemic as an example, how is your prospective company handling the situation? Are they letting people work from home? Is the CEO taking a pay cut and dipping into their savings to pay staff salary right now? Did they stay open when maybe they shouldn’t have? Keep track of what the company does over the next few months, and you may learn far more about company culture than you ever expected.
When You Already Left Your Old Job and There’s a Hiring Freeze
Unfortunately, a hiring freeze or a held job offer can happen after you’ve given your two weeks notice or even entirely vacated your last job. And, unfortunately, there’s really nothing you can do about it. Most U.S. employers are “employment at will,” which means they can let you go at any time for any reason—or no reason at all.
In most cases, a hiring freeze—even with a written offer—will not entitle you to unemployment benefits. That said, because these are extraordinary times, under the CARES Act, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits if you were supposed to start a new job but now can’t because of COVID-19. You will have to provide proof that your job offer was put on hold due to coronavirus, though.
What Comes Next?
Fortunately, at FlexJobs, we’re seeing new postings for remote jobs nearly every day. Check out this regularly updated list, or search for a job in one of our 50 career categories and see if there’s a remote job that’s perfect for you. Members get full access to our postings every day, and right now, we’ve dropped our prices as low as 50% (use the code JOBS at checkout).
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Rachel Pelta is a Content Coordinator for FlexJobs. With professional experience in job placement and as a manager, she creates content to help people succeed in their job search, and to help managers get the best out of their staff.…Read More >
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