Can a Job Offer Be Put on Hold or Withdrawn? And If so, what Happens Next?

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It looks like your long and challenging job search may finally be coming to a close. The light at the end of the tunnel appeared when you found a promising company with an open position that perfectly matched your skills. A week after you submitted your resume, you found yourself in an engaging conversation with your interviewer and potential boss. And the day after that, you received a phone call with excellent news. The hiring manager liked you, the HR manager liked you, and even the receptionist in the lobby gave you high marks for poise, manners, and warmth. You’re in! …Or are you?

Contingent Job Offers and Positions with an Uncertain Future

Your troubles may not be over just yet. Often, job offer letters list clear contingencies on which the position may depend. So review these contingencies carefully and recognize that you aren’t completely out of the woods just yet.

Here are some of the obstacles that may still stand between you and your new desk, along with a few ways to get around these obstacles and finally put your job search behind you for good.

1. Drug Tests and Physical Exams

Drug screenings are a fairly common employment practice, and most of the time, offer letters contain clear information about where you’ll need to be for your drug test and when. If the location of your test is unfamiliar, map out the route beforehand to make sure you aren’t late. Don’t let a simple hurdle like this derail a promising future with a great company.

Medical exams and tuberculosis screenings are also common for some jobs, especially those that involve working with food or vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. If you don’t have insurance, don’t worry—some employers will pay, and some medical facilities offer simple pre-employment health screenings at very low cost.

2. Background Checks

To compete for promising candidates, employers will often send an offer letter before they conduct an in-depth background and reference check. This can keep a candidate from continuing her search and possibly being scooped up by a competitor, and it can also help employers avoid lengthy, complicated checks for candidates who are aren’t likely to accept.

You won’t usually need to do anything to facilitate this process (other than possibly provide additional references and contact information). But you may have to wait patiently for a few days. If your job search is urgent and every minute off the market comes at a cost to you, keep your search active and keep your options open during this time.

If you’re asked to provide access to information that seems like a violation of your privacy—like your credit records or your medical history—think carefully before you say yes. And again, stay open to all other opportunities until the position is officially yours.

3. Budget Issues

Some companies make hiring decisions before they’re entirely sure they have the budget resources to bring a new employee on board. This happens most often in contracting and project-oriented jobs, and it can place new hires in a potentially unsettling position. For example, if you’ve been hired to participate in a contract that your new employers have yet to officially land with their potential client, be flattered, and accommodate your new employers as much as possible as they work to secure the details. But don’t abandon your job search just yet. Your offer may be withdrawn if the contract falls through, even though a successful negotiation may depend on the attachment of your name to the project.

This is a balancing act that takes place every day in the professional world. If you find yourself in this position, keep a cool head, keep the promises you decide to make, and stay respectful to everyone you deal with during the process. But worry about your own future first.

For more information about what to accept, sign off on, wait for, and watch out for between your job offer and your first day in the office, contact the job search experts at LiveCareer. We offer tips and guidance for every step of the process, from resume writing to long-term career management.

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