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Ask HN: Offer of Employment retracted
271 points by joboffer on Sept 22, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments
I was offered a Senior RoR dev position at a 50-ppl funded and revenue-generating bay area company last week. I accepted, signed, and was excited to join this company. Subsequently I gave my two-week notice at my current job (not in the bay area). They have started my exit process here.

This afternoon I got a call from the HR that they are retracting my offer as "circumstances have changed and they are eliminating the position". I am literally shocked as I have a perfectly good, well-paying job at a Fortune 500 company where I've worked for 5+ yrs that I resigned from to join this small company.

What is my recourse in this situation? I was told by the Engineering Manager in this company that I got two thumbs up from all the interviewers and they were looking forward to me joining. He even sent me tech documents to go over a couple days ago.

I don't know what to do. Not only does this affect my employment situation but also my immigration situation. Not having a job impacts my ability to stay in the US.

I can't go back to my current team now as it will not only look ridiculous but my commitment will be questioned as well.

Please advise. I'm just really distressed and upset right now.

Talk to a lawyer and ask what "detrimental reliance" means. (Short version: what you just did owing to representation that they had a job for you. Comes with damages.)

Let your old company tell you you can't have your job back, don't make that decision for them.

Careful about paying a lawyer up front, though, because it's apparently very hard to make a detrimental reliance claim about a rescinded at-will job offer; it appears to be impossible in several states (at least Florida, Louisiana) and very hard elsewhere.

In the US, most jobs are at-will (you can be fired for no reason, and you're not supposed to rely on your employer maintaining your job); a Rails dev job certainly is.

That said: Patrick is almost certainly right that your company will be happy to keep you on. It'd be almost irrational not to.

I have a friend who is a lawyer, and his stance is that when it comes to employment, there are too many variables involved to make a good judgment on where you stand without contacting an attorney who practices in the relevant jurisdiction. Most people who lose their job think they're doomed because of at-will, but it's not that simple.

I'd recommend calling an employment lawyer. What will likely happen is that he/she will return your call, ask you a bunch of questions, and give you some very good free advice on where you stand and what your options are. If they can't do anything for you, they will tell you that without you having to pay anything.

The "at will" issue is not as cut and dried if on a company sponsored visa.

I'm wondering if they discovered later that sponsoring a visa is more work than they originally thought, and that's what happened.

I don't want to make a decision for my current company. They may even let me have it back. I'm on very good terms with my team too and they were in fact, disappointed to see me go.

I'd just hate myself to go back with my head hung in shame telling them that 'oh my job didn't work out'...take me back. I had a farewell lunch yesterday. Everyone in my extended team knows I'm leaving. My exit interview is planned for early next week and they're processing my final paystubs.

I can't believe this level of unprofessionalism exists.

I had a farewell lunch yesterday.

Make a joke of it. If you get your job back, take all the same people out to lunch. Play up the funny side. Give a "take me back" speech, "what was I thinking" etc etc.

Laugh at yourself, and the world with laugh with you. With your immigration status at stake, this is not the time to stand on some misplaced ego thing.

Every once in a while you've got to double-take and say to yourself 'damn, there's some good advice floating around HN'.

This is one of those times. The process of leaving a job makes it feel so very final. A bunch of people made an effort to give you a good send off and just coming back seems like making a mockery of that. They gave you a good send off because they cared. You are the one who made the most effort and got burned the hardest. They'll understand. They'll be glad to have you back.

Hell, they might even feel like they dodged a bullet on this one and work extra hard to make sure you stop looking elsewhere for employment. "Remember that time we almost lost Bill to that startup? That was a close one, eh?"

You can return the favor. Throw an "anti farewell party" after they have you back and invite everyone on the extended team. Maybe not necessarily a party, but you get the idea.

> Make a joke of it.

This right here.

If you didn't have immigration status to worry about I'd say just go find another RoR job, the market is full of them ATM.

But in your case I'd say swallow your pride. You seem to be on good terms with your current team so yes this this will be a little bit awkward, but nothing more. Make a joke out of it and let people make jokes about it at your expense. Put it out in the open and laugh about it.

Don't apologize for the choices you've made (it was a business decision, not a personal one). Your manager and team will probably be relieved that you're staying, though you can probably forget any significant promotion in the short-term :)

If you can find some reasonable token of commitment (though I have no idea what that might be - anyone?), keep that in reserve.

Just tell them the lunch was so good you've decided to stay.

Or tell them an evil twin tied you up and decided to try a prank.

I know exactly how the poster feels, but your suggestion is the best way to handle it. Do it this way, and it will be forgotten that afternoon. Do it wrong, and people may never trust you again.

Don't say "The position didn't work out", which would cause suspicion and make you look bad.

Blame them (Flaky Corp) for acting unprofessional.

Go into your current manager, tell them you are in a really difficult and awkward situation. That you have had some communications very recently that have made you very uncomfortable with the new company and made you reconsider your decision.

Your Boss will understand that messed up stuff happens sometimes and will want to avoid interviewing for the position. Tell your Boss you honestly do not want to leave the company now given this situation and that you want your old job back.

Value yourself and take charge of the situation. Dont just allow an awkward ego-feeling or unprofessional behavior by Flaky Corp to own you!

In general I agree except don't lie!. Whatever reason would he have to not say "my offer was rescinded by Flaky Corp" and he can use that as an opportunity to praise the stability of his Fortune 500 company and that sector.

Thank you! There's so much moping and sadness in the world! Lighten up and laugh people!

Better yet, who cares? Take your chances and apply to YC. This must be your calling.

Did you miss the part about OP's immigration status?

What a careless advice, your are just telling him: just play lottery! With all due respect to YC, getting into YC is not easy.

100% agree with frossie. I know it is ridiculous but with your immigration status at stake, don't think of all this. Just go and talk to them.

Also, once you get your job, send http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:yR0N5a0R8puacM:http://www... to the company who retracted the offer.

There is no shame in this, there is just the reality that you were dealt with in an unprofessional way and I think that they will see it just like that.

If you're any good at all your boss will be happy to see you back but I wouldn't count on a raise or promotion until you've more than proven to be there to stay.

And it wouldn't hurt to have a solid backup plan just in case they do decide to lay you off at some point in the future.

Keep in mind too that since you left voluntarily that if they do take you on again it counts as a new employment, essentially you're a new hire. You may even have to re-negotiate your salary.

Being out of a job normally would be hard enough, but since your residence depends on your job there is a very important reason to make this work.

> You may even have to re-negotiate your salary.

That would be nasty. The gentleman thing to do would be to pretend this never happened. Everything was conducted in the most civilized way. There would be no reason to change.

Well... I wouldn't change that.

What I would ask in return, at most, would be that, next time you give me a month of advanced notice. It takes time to replace a good member of the team.

You are employed in the US for 5+ years. How's the permanent resident paperwork going?

Oh... BTW, "you" != "jacquesm".

last line made my day

Unprofessionalism? Retracted offers aren't new. During the 2001 recession, many fresh graduates newly at Boeing had offers retracted. At my current company, one employee left to join Doctors Without Borders. We gave him a farewell dinner, and talked about the work he'd be doing abroad. Two weeks later he was back in the office. Turned out, DWB couldn't take him after all (I don't recall the details). He made the best decisions given the information he had. He did nothing wrong, and nor have you. Explain the situation to your employer. You have nothing to be ashamed about, but maybe your new employer does.

And stop tying your self-worth to your career. You are not your work.

Just a small addition to what everyone else is saying: After a couple months, no one will remember this event.

(I always find it easier to deal with unfortunate or embarrassing situations when I'm reminded that they appear more severe and permanent to me than they actually are.)

I heard a similar story the other day by a friend of mine about his colleague. This guy left his job at previous company while his Green Card application was in the 2nd stage. He was tired of waiting in that 2nd stage for years with the hope of reaching to final stage. Finally he got too tired, and he switched the job to a different company. Just within 1 week of joining a new company, magically USCIS released new dates and that guy's application was able to go in the final stage of the Green Card process. Unfortunately, for that to happen, he needed to work with his previous company. He has no option than to talk to his old employer. They took him back.

Weird things happen with immigration cases. And big corporates are sensible enough to understand such situation and help good employees.

Unfortunately it does. I've seen the exact same thing at a startup where they hired a receptionist. The girl took the job and told her current employer she was quitting. Probably no more than 2 days later the company reneged on their offer. All I know is nothing legal ever came of it, but it made those of us working there that found out sick at the gross negligence on behalf of accounting to say the funds were there when they weren't. My guess is someone working a receptionist job doesn't have the funds or time to seek legal counsel.

Likely in the long run that move cost them dearly.

This exact thing happened to me last year, too. Though in my case I was already between gigs so it wasn't as big a deal.

Look at it this way -- would you really want to work at a company that would rescind a job offer this way? It says a lot about a company that they don't have their act together enough to know if they can hire or not.

Good RoR devs are hard to find -- I'd just let your current employer know what happened and see if they'll keep you on. Just say that the offer they made was too good to refuse. And, as it turned out, was too good to be true in the end.

There's no shame in going back, in fact, you'll likely be welcomed. It makes sense for you, it makes sense for them. Swallow the pride, do the rational thing.

It's not a blemish on your record that your new employer flaked out. That's a blemish on their record. Your job seems to like you, or they would have fired you for giving notice, right? So don't panic. Talk to your boss. It'll be an uncomfortable conversation, but that's par for the course in uncomfortable situations. You're still awesome.

just to clarify, the blemish is his disloyalty to his previous company (i mean that strictly literaly- i would not call someone who takes a new job disloyal)

If you aren't terribly unhappy there, tell them what has happened and ask to come back. There is no shame in that at all - in fact it puts you in a pretty good position at your old job (because they now know your skills are valued elsewhere).

Another possibility is telling them what has happened, but say you still planning on moving so offering to stay for another month.

OTOH, there is plenty of RoR work around, so I'd be surprised if you can't pick something else up pretty easily.

Totally. Put your resume on Dice or hotjobs and you'll have interest within a few days. Even if you go back, it won't hurt to have more confidence about your marketability

Realize that in any good company, there will always be an expectation that people eventually move along to other opportunities. Don't feel any shame about going back.

In any good company that has been around awhile, there is doubtlessly a number of people that have left the company and come back again under much better circumstances (as in worked another job for a while and then came back). At the company I work for, there are a handful of people that have left the company and come back again over 2 or 3 times over the years.

There is no shame in it. The took back the job offer. No big deal. More forward and just tell your company you would like to stay.

It's not just a pride issue; your bargaining position in relation to your previous employer changes in this situation, whether you like it or not, whether or not your manager acknowledges it or not, whether you get the sa, me terms as before back or not, and whether they are nice people or not.

The fact is, you left, it didn't work out, and now you're back because you need something. Next time something good comes up and works out, you're going to leave, they reason. That makes you a risk.

If you're a valuable worker, then you are hard to replace. It would be in their best interests to make use of you while they have a chance to, rather than cast you aside over petty 'loyalty' BS.

The downsides of hiring someone new:

* It could take an indeterminate amount of time to find someone of a similar caliber (1 month? 3 months? 1 year?).

* It takes a certain amount of time to get comfortable with the internal codebase of a company, let alone the time that it takes to become proficient with it. This amount of time increases the larger the internal codebase and the older the company is.

* It takes time to 'bond' with the team and for the new social dynamic to become settled and understood by everyone.

* There is no guarantee that the new person that you hire will stick around either. You could spend a whole year looking for someone as skilled, just to have the person leave after 3 months before any of the growing pains associated with bringing on a new person are worked out. Then where are you? Back to square-one possibly spending another year looking for a similarly/equally skilled person.

You could side-step all of these issues by bringing this man/woman back on. If he/she leaves after another 3 months, who cares? He/she will be more productive during those 3 months than a new hire would be.

Stick to your existing employer. This event might be embarrassing but everyone will get over it.

If you leave the job; not only you will be out of job, but out of immigration status as well. There is a lot at stake, this could ruin your career and personal life as well.

Ask your current company, if you can have the job back.

I am not sure if i would take back someone who is anyway planning to leave.Even if they do they will fire after they are sure you are redundant, that will mess up your visa status. Search and take up any job for the time being and keep looking.

Well ... did you want leave your company? If that's the case then going back seems like the wrong idea. If you're good, you can find a new job in this market in no time.

Would you rather be temporarily embarrassed, or kicked out of the country? Pick your battles.

> Let your old company tell you you can't have your job back, don't make that decision for them.

This. If you were leaving on good terms, and were a valued member of the firm, there's absolutely no reason why they wouldn't take you back. In fact, they should be glad to keep you!

There's no shame in having wanted to try something new. People move shops all the time. So this time you got unlucky with the move, but no biggy. Just be upfront with your current employer and tell them what's happened.

The key here is damages. ie. what have you lost. If you ask for your old job back and they don't offer it then you're in a stronger position to show damages. If they do offer it - well then you're in better shape then you are now.

Just another point in the "suck it up and ask for your old job back" camp.

Sorry, no - his immigration situation is the priority, and if it turns out that he can collect damages (insufficient data to say), they would include the cost of the immigration lawyer.

Posterous is hiring, and we love Ruby on Rails. Let me know if you'd like to talk. Perhaps we can make lemonade from these lemons. http://posterous.com/jobs

Blurb (Bay Area print-on-demand publishing company) is hiring Rails developers as well: http://www.blurb.com/join_us

Good luck! :)

Now that is why I love HN, SO, and all these tech-nerd websites. Community.

Sent you an email. Thanks for reaching out.

Awesome, we will be in touch!

Posterous, Twitter and loads of others are great places to work.

Specific opportunities aside, I think the point made here (and elsewhere in this thread) is that there are plenty of RoR jobs in The Bay Area - and if you come out here and hang out you'll be in a job within 2 weeks.

I'm sure most of the bigger/funded startups would support the legal costs of a port on an H1b, if that is what you have.

If you go back to your old employer, which is an option, aside from the pride issue I think you would also out of professionalism owe them 3-6 months before you left again, so consider what you want to do carefully.

CarWoo! is also in need of an awesome RoR systems engineer: http://carwoo.com/jobs

That really really sucks. This happens, fortunately not frequently. I take it you have copies of all the documents and the preceding correspondence as well.

First order of battle is to be candid with your current employer to see if you can get your old job back, you may have to promise them not to leave within the next six months or so, conversely you can expect to be let go at any moment.

Think of it as a stopgap measure.

Next stop after that is the office of a lawyer specializing in HR affairs.

Don't worry too much about looking ridiculous, you would look a lot more ridiculous losing your dwelling or having no food on the table.

Pride is a virtue but fairly useless at this point in time.

I've been a hiring manager for hundreds of programmers over the years at several companies. With the exception of maybe one or two people I was preparing to get rid of anyway, if any one of the people who quit came back during their notice period with this story I would insist that they stay and fight fiercely with any other forces in the company that might resist it. It also wouldn't lower my esteem for the person. I'd be happy that he or she felt that he or she could come back. I have been happy when they've come back. It's never been as soon as this, but I've had people leave to try startups or other jobs and had them not work out. The good ones leave to try things sometimes. I'm happy to be good enough that when it sometimes doesn't work out, even though it is a time to consider many options, they elect to come back.

I think that it also depends on what terms people are leaving. It's one thing to say you're leaving because you're starting a company and another thing because you're sick of writing mundane database/web applications, using Waterfall instead of Agile etc. or even worse because almost everything is a mess.

It's certainly the case that if they're leaving because they're unhappy that something is true and it is still going to be true when they consider returning it would give me pause. :-)

Even then, it might be possible to convince me if they come back with a reason they were wrong and think the thing is good (e.g. I tried Agile and discovered it isn't better, and my actual problem was this...) rather than just, "I decided to put up with it here..."

You should absolutely let it be known who this company is. If you're uncomfortable do it anonymously. Rescinding an offer after a candidate has quit an existing job is shameful and anyone doing it should be outed for all potential candidates to know of.

Don't be embarrassed about asking for your old job back.

And ask the 50 person company to reimburse you - they should pay you for the trouble they've caused. If they're not complete idiots they should agree to at least a month's worth of salary, possibly more. Have them do it as a consulting fee if they're not comfortable phrasing it as damages for their rescinded offer.

You should absolutely let it be known who this company is. If you're uncomfortable do it anonymously. Rescinding an offer after a candidate has quit an existing job is shameful and anyone doing it should be outed for all potential candidates to know of.

What if a major funding event had fallen through, and the company rescinding all outstanding offers and cutting expenses allows half of those 50 employees to retain their jobs for another month? Truth is, you have no idea what's going on at that company. These decisions usually aren't made lightly. I say this as someone that's been in the exact same position in the past. Move on, holding a grudge will only hurt the OP.

This exact situation happened with me prior to starting my current position. Let me tell a short story.

I received a formal offer from the new organization, gave my notice at the previous employer and closed out my projects, and made plans to spend a couple of weeks having a proper several-years-delayed honeymoon with my wife, and then a week visiting family and getting my head ready for the new role. As I was waiting to board the plane to visit my family, I saw on the news that the organization I was joining (government-funded) got a surprise during a weekend political negotiating session, and had their budget for the remainder of the year slashed by a ridiculous amount. This hit them hard enough that they were already talking about furloughs and layoffs to the media, and had an all-hands meeting about the issue scheduled.

By the time the plane landed, I had voicemail waiting for me from the fellow who was going to be my new boss; as soon as he heard what was happening, he immediately started asking his superiors about outstanding offers, and was informed in no uncertain terms that already-issued offers were being honored (but obviously, no new offers would be issued), and he made sure I understood that he was available for any questions I might have. I, along with everyone else in the organization, experienced rolling furloughs for the next few quarters, and a round of voluntary layoffs and additional emergency funding finally helped them make it through until the next budget cycle.

That is precisely how you handle a situation like this: you honor your obligations, and preferably do so proactively, and with a keen eye to how you are impacting people who have placed their trust in you and your organization.

Reneging on your obligations, especially in a situation as nuanced as the posters' (a suggestion to simply "move on" is much easier said than done when you're on an H1B), is the definition of unprofessionalism, and is a direct reflection on them as businesspeople. While I don't recommend he "out" them because of how it might reflect on him later in his career, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little voice of schadenfreude in the back of my mind hoping he lets their name slip.

Companies should not be making offers for positions they cannot afford, regardless of what's going on at the company. If the money is not in the bank they shouldn't be making the offer. This is serious stuff; they're playing with people's lives here.

The people at this company are incompetent, stupid, unethical, or some combination thereof. They should be exposed. It's not about holding a grudge; it's about letting other potential candidates know of the risks, and of making sure there's a penalty for this kind of behavior.

And yes, I've been in similar positions as a hiring manager in both small and large companies. Offers that cannot be guaranteed should not be made; once made, they should not be rescinded.

What if a major funding event had fallen through

Then that begs the question: did the company misrepresent its funding status? Perhaps the OP didn't ask but it sounds like he did his research. It's always good to ask these questions:

- How much locked-in funding do you have?

- How long can the company go on at the current burn rate?

- What is the current projected point where the company's revenues will grow to match expenses?

I have no idea whether the OP asked some/all of those nor whether or not the company misrepresented its funding status.

This happened to me at Google pre-ipo:( You are out of luck. In California job positions are at-will... I'd most likely go back to your old company, look for another one or just start a new company.

I know a few good Bay Area companies that are hiring if you are interested...

You mind sharing the details of your story?

Might not have the taste any longer to join another startup, but Justin.tv is hiring engineers and if you want to continue on to move to the Bay Area you should check us out. /shameless plug

In any case remember tomorrow is another day and surely things will work out.

One thing I would do is figure out whether they got some information about you that made them not want to bring you on or whether some disruptive event happened at the company. If there some information or misinformation out there that would cause someone to rescind a job offer, it's very important that you know about it.

Beyond that, it seems like you should find a job at another company or try to get your old job back. A lawsuit seems really complicated and unlikely to get much for you.

It's a nice idea and worth asking but many employers are loathed to give critical feedback these days for fear of being sued (and even more so if they rescinded the offer and so the individual might have a case for damages)

Hi joboffer,

I'm an engineer at comparably-sized RoR based company in SF, and we are looking for more people to join the team. If you'd like, please get in touch: quin@scribd.com

I'd be interested in hearing about your goals and filling you in on the engineering culture here.

Emailed you.

+1 more for trying to get your job back. When I left my corporatey job of 5+ years to join a 10 person startup in August 2008 as I walked out the door on my last day the CEO said something I'll never forget - "If you ever need a job, just call me." Total class. If you've done good work for someone and they aren't morons, of course they will want you back whether it's a year in the future or a week :)

The startup has committed what is known legally as "Promissory estoppel", basically a broken promise. In general they are liable for any reasonable expenses that you have incurred with the assumption that they would keep the promise. If for example you had already moved to the bay area, you could file a lawsuit to recover the cost of the move and the cost of moving back.

If you do want to get any monetary compensation from the company, I would suggest bypassing the recruiter and speaking with a founder or executive at the company directly. Hopefully they will be motivated to do the "right thing", and they will certainly have an interest in preserving their reputation.

Good faith is usually an adequate defense to that, otherwise changing circumstances of any kind, in any situation would turn into legal liabilities universally, which is clearly untenable.

We're hiring, email us: jobs@mixpanel.com

i know working for the man isn't popular around these parts, but if someone is looking for a programming job in DC let me know. Its a govt job but I love working here. Lots of freedom to work on projects that you want.

Looking for someone local, or open to relocating someone? PS: Might be easier if you include your contact info/email address in your profile.

Government job for aliens?!

Based on the parent comment's username, I'm going to guess it's the X-Files.

JD-Beast? Government alien jobs? Something spooky is happening in D.C.

Dude, a friend of mine is in D.C. right now with top clearance. Rails and Java developer. Would love to get him out of the crappy contracting gig he is in. Shoot me an email and I will have him at your office in 2 days.


sorry, in hindsight that was overly vague. My email is jconline at the domain of gmail, I will send you a link to the job posting when it comes out. Also, we haven't done any Rails dev yet, to date we are all .NET / PHP, so if you only want to do RoR, it may not be a good fit. We will be doing a lot of drupal in the near future as well.

This exact thing happened to someone I know. He got a call right as he was leaving his old job on his last day. The guy said something along the same lines - due to changing circumstances, the original position we were offering you has been eliminated. The guy was flabbergasted, of course, but just ended up going back to the old company anyway. I'm pretty sure if you want, you can get your job back. Unless you were leaving on bad terms or there's something more to the situation.

To make it a little easier, you can just join another team at the same company instead. That way it's a little less awkward.

You really need to out the company that did this. If not for revenge, do it so that they can't screw anyone else over in a similar situation.

No, sorry he should not do that. His situation is precarious enough as it is, he should play his cards very carefully and not do anything rash or out of revenge.

I don't want to out the company publicly. I'd rather not burn bridges. I just don't want to get into any more mess than has already been created.

Stick your tail between your legs and ask for your old job back. - Like the old man always says: "It's best not to burn bridges".

Ask for the old job back... but explain the situation, it doesn't sound like there's any reason you need to 'stick your tail between your legs'.

Name and shame the buggers.

As much as I share this sentiment, I'd advise against it.

They were very unprofessional and left you in the lurch, but that's not a reason for you to hit the blogs and start throwing mud.

In a few years this company may not even be around any more, but naming and shaming with posts and comments on the net will be around long after this is all a distant memory and that will reflect very badly on you wrt future employers.

I see it differently, personally my allegiance lies with other developers, it is why I was respected even when I was in executive management. Personally, I would feel that it is my responsibility to not let this happen to other developers. Further it is not his responsibility to hid the actions of the wrong. They where in the wrong not him, he should not have to protect their reputation for fear of reprisal by some future employer. I would hire him if he named the name of the company because it is not his duty to protect and cover up their actions.

This is certainly a different case than airing a companies dirty laundry and creating a whinny bitch fest just because you are unhappy with a company for log hours, mismanagement or something similar. In this case a company showed a clear disregard for their actions.

Further outing the company would make this post real in my mind. Color me skeptical, but we all know that there is a lot of back room crap that goes on with getting low wage immigrants in to fill positions. They go to great lengths to do so. It would not at all surprise me if they are AstroTurf'ing boards to scare existing visa holders into "staying put" (HN would be a good place with our visa holder community). I would not put it past them and this is just the kind of post that would do so. So with some real facts the story becomes more credible until then I will remain at least partially skeptical.

He can name them respectfully, maybe just in this post. Respectfully is key, and any potential future employer should understand this.

Naming the company is different than badmouthing the company. It's not like they wouldn't have the opportunity to respond here as well if they felt they weren't getting a fair shake.

Agreed! I think this is one of the worst things a company can do. They shouldn't be able to do it without harming their reputation.

People quit jobs all the time. For you, this is a big deal because you don't quit jobs all that often. I suggest that you explain to your employer what happened, and ask for your current job back. Chances are they will be happy to have you back.

For him it is a big deal because his residence status depends on his employment.

> Stick to your existing employer. This event might be > embarrassing but everyone will get over it.

I agree. Once a company has made the offer, it's not illegal to withdraw it, but it certainly shows a lack of organization and a scummy level of honesty. Next time you want to jump, have the new company pay for moving costs and immigration lawyer fees up front. That should stop them being such jerks again.

If you have the job offer back from them, with their signature on it as well your own, then I would also recommend outing the offending company... That is probably one bridge you can afford to burn - and current and future employees of the company all will probably see the information as valuable.

If you never got a signed copy of the job offer, then I would think your options are fairly limited.

Best of luck, either way.

For a start, you could publicize the name of the faithless company and give them some bad press (and prevent others here at HN from potentially encountering the same problem).

I don't know the situation in the US (I'm from Israel) and frankly last time I was employee of someone others company was 8 years ago. But several times I was hired before it was like this:

* If you know a person who hiring you - you shake a hand and consider it done (you sign employment, NDA and stock options contracts on the first days of your work).

* Otherwise you don't give a notice at your current place of work, until you sign a contract. Contract specify a mutual notice period, which can be somewhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. Usually it's 1 month. Once both sides signed the contracts, even if they don't hire you at the end - they owe you the notice period salary.

Going to lawyers is never a good solution - better to explain to them your situation and ask for some compensation.

I have seen something similar happen to a co-worker who was starting at the same time as me at a new job. When he was hired, he was promised a management position with a higher salary than other developers, including myself. After working at the company for a couple of weeks, the company said they did not need him as a manager and wanted to reduce his salary to be the same as other developers. The guy ended up going back to his old company and getting his old job back because he was not willing to drop his salary requirement at the new job.

If possible, could you post the name of the company that "hired" you, maybe let others know so they'll think twice before joining that company?

Hopefully your old company will take you back!

The first startup I worked at made an offer to a summer intern to start the following summer (after graduation). Then the economy went south and they had to do a layoff. So in this case, they had to retract the offer. But they gave the guy 1 or 2 months severance pay--same as they gave all the employees that got laid off. I thought they handled that pretty well. And we wound up hiring him a few years later when we were growing again.

There is some great advice already here. But here are a few things to ponder: 1. I say good riddance. Better not to be working at this place. 2. More importantly, things could have been worse for your immigration status if you would have joined this company and they would have eliminated your position then. Now you at least have the option of going back to your current employer without any hassle of visa transfers.

I can find you a position in less than a week. I work as an independent contractor doing sourcing for a consultant recruiter. We are currently hiring for several positions that your background would fit nicely with. Yammer, Turn, Inc., and Chomp, are all companies looking for top talent like you. Some of the companies we're hiring for relocate, some of them are down with telecommuting, all of them have no problem helping immigrant geniuses stay in the states. We find geeks their dream jobs, as my boss and I are both geeks ourselves, we just haven't yet learned to manipulate space and time with code like the people on this site have. You can find my LinkedIn profile @http://www.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-adams/2/212/839, or you can contact me direct at stephenadams88@gmail.com. No matter what, keep your head up and know that with your background there's no reason to get discouraged about your job prospects in this market.

Thanks everyone for your supportive and helpful comments. I had interest from another company when I accepted from this company that rescinded the offer. I am following up with them to see if they're still interested.

I am also getting in touch with some of you who are hiring. The problem is I have very little time to go back and make amends at my existing job - just tomorrow.

This will be a long night...

Depending on what sort of VISA you are on, I think it's most likely H1B, You are fine. Don't worry so much. You have a 30 days window to find employment in the US. If you found something else in the next few days, you can effectively start working for the company with on the day you send in your new H1B transfer documents.

I'm not a lawyer but I know this from past experience.

Step one find something physical to do to burn off the stress.

After that, come back and read all of the great advice here.

I would go back to your boss, and say, "Hey I guess the offer really was too good to be true. Do you know of any openings at the company, and smile? Can I start Monday?"

Let's hope that works. As for SF I am not even a RoR developer and I get an email/phone call once a week looking for someone. So if you don't get your job back list SF as your home, and plan a trip out here. You should be able to line up 5-10 interviews during a 2 week trip.

You probably want to look at companies that are large enough to have HR and to cover relocation expenses.

I know that http://www.castlighthealth.com/ is hiring RoR developers, and pays well. My roommate seems to be pretty happy there.

Good Luck, and remember that the engineering manager at that other company liked you, and may change companies at any time. Heck if this happens enough to him, he might be looking for a new job right away. Don't burn bridges.

At my former employer (small one, ~80 employees) we had a similar situation. One of engineers left the company (with good-bye lunch and all) and showed up back 2 weeks later. I don't know what happened (we weren't close enough for me to ask just like that), and it was a basis for jokes for couple of weeks or so.

But after a month everybody almost forgot about it.

I just wrote the following, but it doesn't really take into account your immigration status. That's tricky.

I don't agree with the prevailing sentiment. Obviously you left for a reason, and that reason still exists. It would look ridiculous to go back.

I'm sure you'll get a few interviews out of this thread, and if you're good, a new job. There's always risk changing jobs.

For an entrepreneurial crowd, it seems everyone here is forgetting that it's risky to pursue something you want. I left a well paying job were I was liked and performed well to go to a start up who is still paying me by the hour. They even changed the start date a couple times after I already gave notice -- it was flaky behavior, and I told some people at my old job about it before I left. They looked at me like I was crazy, but I wanted the new challenge. I wanted to develop a product from the ground up, and if the new job hadn't panned out, I would have found a way to be OK.

Almost the exact same thing happened to me about a year ago. Follow the advice of making a joke of it and keeping your current job. Don't waste your money on a lawyer. Almost every job offer is written with language indicating that it is by no means a contract and is merely an offer of employment which can be rescinded at any time.

Is there another side to this story, why did you quit your job in the first place? Was the other job that much better?

I agree if it is a time constraint thing you have no choice in approaching your prior company. But if not I would keep looking for something that fills your need, like the Posterous post you will learn a lot more than just RoR.

Good Luck!

You should certainly have all your paperwork ready to take to an immigration lawyer specializing in employment cases. This is probably going to cost you several thousand dollars - sorry.

If you don't already have one because your current employer took care of that when you came, then hire one - even if you keep your current job, you should not assume the matter is resolved. Even if your current employer says they'll take care of the paperwork (or that no problem exists because you had not left before this happened), you triggered the situation and it's your visa which may be affected, so it's ultimately your responsibility to make sure it's cleared up. Your employer's attorney is paid to think about your employer's legal position, and may not be current or even conversant with handling such cases for individual immigrants.

Start looking for an attorney with the American Immigration Lawyer's Association, and talk to a few before you commit to an appointment - ensure they have experience in this area, and consider asking for references. You should also check with your employer about who their attorneys are, if only to avoid an accidental conflict of interest if they use an outside firm and you happen to call the same one! http://www.ailalawyer.com/

Technically your authorization to stay expires the day after you leave your current employer, although it may take months to process the paperwork. If they will take you back, that would of course be the best outcome. Put your request in the form of a letter and keep a copy for yourself. It should probably state honest credible reasons why you wanted to develop your career elsewhere (beyond mere $$$), and obviously it should be respectful and acknowledge what they've done for you in the past. Again, your attorney may have valuable input. Even if your boss senses something in your body language and asks you, then says you'd be welcome back, tell him you'd like to make a formal written request - much better to generate paperwork now which an immigration administrator can examine and approve at some future date, than to have a confusing absence of paperwork about the situation if your employer's records are inspected in the future.

As the company that let you down was smaller, it is possible they did not have experience with the immigration paperwork, and backed out for that reason - the rules are complex and are adjusted frequently. Do find out if they have already filed anything on your behalf or not. It might actually make your life simpler if they haven't, because generally the responsibility to straighten out any administrative oddities is yours, not the government's. Sometimes I read of people being placed in removal proceedings because of trivial errors or contradictions in their file that were not noticed or acted on until years later. There's no certainty of the HR manager or even the company in the Bay Area still being around in the future, so an abandoned or canceled application might come back to haunt you long after the firm had forgotten the whole episode. Whether paperwork was filed or not, get the answer from the Bay Area company in writing - indeed, it may be better to let the immigration attorney do that for you, since s/he will know exactly what information to request/confirm.

If your existing employer decides not to take you back, you may be able to file for a temporary extension of your visa called an I-539 because of the unusual circumstances, which will cost at least $300 in filing fees. Again, you need to consult an attorney who specializes in this area, who might suggest a quite different strategy. I mention it only as an obvious possibility - do not rely on this information!

I'm not an attorney, let alone an immigration attorney, nor am I qualified to give you any kind of legal advice. I just want to explain why it is so important for you to get professional help even though it will cost you some money.

Immigration matters have the potential to cause problems for you or a family member in unexpected ways because immigration law is complex and the usual assumptions about rights and obligations do not apply - your legal relationship with the US govt. as a non-citizen is entirely different from that of a citizen. A regular employment attorney is not a good choice, and they would likely refer you to an immigration attorney anyway - at least, they should.

Also, the internet is a very poor source of information not just on legal matters in general, but immigration in particular - some people with a dislike of immigrants hang out on Q&A websites to give out deliberately misleading advice or abuse people who ask. After spending a good part of this summer in a law library, I'm horrified at how much misinformation is floating about. Hire a pro - much cheaper to fix it now than later.

Sort out the immigration end first, and worry about recovering damages later.

[Removed bad advice about portraying this as a change of mind rather than a rescinded job offer to his current employer]

Talk to the manager at your current company and tell him that you want your job back or at least a longer notice period. They probably won't mind having you around to do more knowledge transfer for a few more weeks and look for another job.

Meanwhile, consider what patio11 said. IANAL and employment offers often have a clause saying something about how they are non-binding etc, but I am not sure how enforceable those terms are. You may indeed have a case.

Separately, start applying for jobs elsewhere. RoR is a valuable skill and fresh from a successful (although unfortunate) interview, you are well placed to ace more interviews.

Good luck!

Bad advice, no need to lie about the situation.

Upon reconsideration, yes this was bad advice. When I read he is on a "work visa" and in a bad situation due to job transfer problems, I automatically assumed he was dealing with the worst kind of employers waiting to exploit him. Clearly this is not the case most of the time.

So agreed, if he works for a good manager / employer, it is better to be forthright.

I rescind my advice.


I strongly disagree.

Whether or not to actually go with this approach is up for debate, but the terms of his engagement with his new employer are not in any way, shape or form his old employer's business. There's a reason so many laws exist to protect the confidentiality of such information.

From my point of view as a business owner, if they haven't replaced you already, your old employer would likely welcome you back with open arms. Good people are hard to find - and ones that know all your systems and eccentricities are even harder to find. The biggest headache in hiring someone is getting them up to speed and integrated into your company culture. This is way more time and energy consuming than you might think. So if I was you old employer I would bring you back - the only headache would be if I had replaced you already or promoted one of your old co-workers. At a Fortune 500 company they should be able to find some parallel position at least for you.

I agree with everyone else: try to get your old job back. Throw away the 'it will look ridiculous' idea - none of this will matter in a couple of months.

If they were disappointed to see you go, they will welcome your return.

As another person who has had a similar experience before, and whose immigration status is tied to employment, I can imagine how distressing this must be[1]. I hope the general outpouring of support on HN eases your mind a bit! Think it through clearly and move on.

1: In fact, I'm pretty much in the same situation as you were: accepted an offer with a bay area company and undergoing the visa process, and this post does give me pause. I'll respect your decision to not name names though.

I'm sorry this happened to you, but you should realize it is a normal part of startup life. Don't take it personally.

I would guess your potential employers are as unhappy about the situation as you are. It's no fun to lay people off or rescind a job offer. It sucks almost as much as being on the receiving end.

If you want to work in a startup again, don't hire a lawyer, and don't make a huge deal out of it. There's only a miniscule chance you'll recover anything significant, and you will certainly incur ill will.

If job stability is very important to you, then you should probably stay away from smaller startups, where positions (and paychecks) can be very unstable.

Don't worry so much about the "they will hate me" or "my team won't trust me" angle unless you know that to be a fact. Most people understand that business is business, management or not, and if you're a solid employee that your team could use they're not going to be pissed that you got a better offer and accepted. They'll just be happy to have you back so they don't have to replace you.

I like the "make a joke of it" angle, but if you can't pull that off you really should be fine with just being honest about what happened, assuming you work with decent human beings. Story seemed reasonable enough to me.

I'll play devil's advocate and ask-- so if they just fired him on the 2nd day of work, it would have been kosher and everyone would go home happy? Where do you draw the line when there's no employment contract?

So sorry to hear this. I don't know how the work situation is in the US, but here in Norway it's quite common to get positions, even the really good ones, thrown after you if you have the right resume.

Sit down and think what you want to do. If the position you were offered was the dream job; locate a similar company and send them your resume. Or even better, the best people is reading this very post. Put up a link to your resume right here, and see what'll happen. Couldn't hurt(?).

I am a recruiter representing a few Ruby driven companies in SF. They can handle VISAs for the right people. If you want send me your resume and I can see if we can move fast. I have recruited 20 years and I have never had a company I worked for pull the Visa unless they had a serious layoff. Feel free to reach out to me on linkedin. http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgentry/

See if you can go back to your job, hopefully earlier than later (as in, e-mail your boss if you have not already and tell him you have an important matter to discuss). It's probably best of the HR side of the house does not get too far along. That, or, you can respond to one of the many individuals that said they were hiring (I'm not sure how much time you have/how much time you can be without a job, in general).

Good luck and keep us posted.

If you're good, I'm sure they'll take you back. The cost of hiring and ramping a new employee to replace you is much higher than the cost of bringing you back.

I agree with everyone else: try to get your old job back. If they're professionals (and you didn't burn any bridges), then they should realize that it was nothing personal when you looked for other employment.

True, they may question your loyalty in the future, but if they like you, then they will probably be relieved that you're staying. They might even try to address whatever it was that made you look elsewhere to begin with...

How is your relationship with your former boss?

When I switched jobs, my boss left me on leave for two months in case I changed my mind.

What I would like to know is what is the name of this company that would hire then rescind immediately.

Wildfire is hiring Ruby developers as well. Would love to chat with you about this. Apply here: http://wildfireapp.jobscore.com/jobs/wildfireapp/ruby-develo...

I represent a company in California that needs top ruby people. Send me a resume and let me see what we can do. We can move fast for the right person. I also know other companies in SF that need Ruby guys if you are good there are opportunities out here.

>my commitment will be questioned as well

Why? If they laid you off and then said "oh, we found the money and we need you to stay" would you doubt their commitment more? It should be the same before as after. We work to make money, you didn't marry this company.

I doubt your current company will have any issues with you retracting your resignation, it costs them more to hire a new employee/train them up and so on, so just go and speak to them I'd imagine they'd be happy for you to stay

1. Start looking. 2. Explain to your manager your reasons for leaving and what actually happened. 3. Tell the new company that you are politely calling out their name. And see what they think.

Wow, I talked to a recruiter for startups and we're in the process of something similar. I too am risking my status in the states by switching.

So...anyone need a Django + front-end dev on a project basis?

We're hiring a Rails backend developer too, working on dome really fun and social games on the iPhone. I'm guessing you 're not from the bay area and we're located in Pittsburgh PA.

I know that you'll look ridiculous when you get back to your old job (if you did). But trust me, it's a lot better than staying JOBLESS especially in this economy.

Especially if it means being kicked out of the country. Being jobless is only a part of the problem here.

Use your powers for something good. We're hiring:


joboffer: CrowdFlower is hiring senior Ruby on Rails devs. I'd love to talk to you about your goals if you have time. Drop me a line brian@crowdflower.com

I agree with everyone here. Ask for you old job back, they should understand. If all works out, please blog about the experience in more detail...

    I can't go back to my current team now as it will not only look ridiculous
You need eat a humble pie and stick with the current team.

there's no reason why you have to tell your current employer that your offer was retracted. tell them you've given the new job a second thought and that you feel that belong where you are.

you can't sue in this situation because i'm sure somewhere inside the offer letter it says the new job/company has the ability to terminate employment at will.

Ya it's a pretty dick move, especially given your immigration situation. I'd out em... politely.

I know ChallengePost is looking for a Sr Rails developer in NYC if you're up for relocation.

Its just awesome to see people randomly offer to help. Speaks volumes of the people here !

Bravo Bravo

Cultivating a thicker skin would be wise. Would you leave the US because you're embarrassed to go back to your old job?

Possibly if you're at a large enough company, you might be able to split the difference and find a job at another team within the same company...


Please email me ASAP, we're in desperate need of more RoR engineers.

Your email isn't in the bio. Could you please reply with it?

After talking to a lawyer, burn the company. Post here and on a blog and email TC. Assholes should be called out, and fucking with someone's life like this is indefensible, doubly so when he or she has visa requirements. Remember in the US, truth is a defense to libel. And you're doing this not for yourself, but for karma, helping all the future employees this company will screw over.

Finally, if you want an sf area rails job, contact scribd -- I literally can't imagine them treating an employee this way. And some of the other big rails shops too; I can't give you an exhaustive list, but maybe start with hashrocket (this isn't a rec, I just know the name), pivotal (in the bay area, have a cool product we use at work), etc.


For someone without data, you sure are inferring a lot.

It may be satisfying to, as you suggest, "burn" the company; but it's also unprofessional. Granted, the startup that rescinded the job offer was behaving unprofessionally, and may even be civilly liable for it's actions, but that does does not mean that you should respond in kind.

Huh? Why would he want to subject anyone else to the same thing he was subjected to? By not naming them, he just screws over the next guy.


A rescinded job offer is a big deal, particularly given the guy's immigration status. I assume this was discussed and that he'd need to transfer his H1B. The company by then would've known he had handed in his notice and any HR person should know this potentially triggers immigration issues.

Name them and shame them I say.

Like you say, this may indicate the company is in trouble financially so any existing employees and potential applicants should be aware of this.

"Naming them and shaming them" is not unprofessional. If you act in an unprofessional way towards me, why is it 'unprofessional' of me to tell the world about it?

Granted, it would definitely be unprofessional to post a large rant filled with swear words and name-calling to your blog, but approaching journalists that might want to pick up the story, or just posting the facts to your blog (and possibly posting that to sites like reddit, digg, hn, etc) is not the same thing.


Can we retire the phrase 'rock star engineer/developer/progammer/whatever' ... please?

I'm having a hard time imagining what a 'rock start engineer' is, and he was trying to find a better gig which is what got him in to all this.

Starting your own company is usually not an option when you're an immigrant on an employers visa (did you read the post?).

I know it is ridiculous but with your immigration status at stake, don't think of all these. Just go and talk to your current boss.

Also, once you get your job back, send http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:yR0N5a0R8puacM:http://www... to the company who retracted the offer.

> send http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:yR0N5a0R8puacM:http://www.... to the company who retracted the offer.

That would be extremely unwise. If there is one take home lesson from all of this, it is that you NEVER burn your bridges, no matter what.

It's a small world, and you just might have to rely on that person you gave the finger last week tomorrow.

Spectacularly bad advice this.

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