Businesses in several different industries are rescinding job offers they made just a few months ago, in a sign the tightest labor market in decades may be showing cracks.
Companies including Twitter Inc.
real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp.
and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc.
have rescinded offers in recent weeks. Employers in other pockets of the economy are pulling away offers too, including some in insurance, retail marketing, consulting and recruiting services.
At the same time, many companies have signaled a more cautious hiring approach. Netflix Inc.
Peloton Interactive Inc.
and others announced layoffs. Technology giants such as Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and Uber Technologies warned they will dial back hiring plans.
The labor market remains strong overall, with an unemployment rate at 3.6%, near the half-century low it reached in early 2020.
But these signs of caution in hiring show that executives are finding it tougher to predict the next 12 months in the economy, say hiring managers and recruiters. When a company revokes a job offer, it indicates a company’s business outlook has changed so quickly it has to undo hiring plans made sometimes weeks before.
“I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing — like it’s a job I had had lined up for months and I really was counting on it,” said Franco Salinas, 24 years old, who learned this month that a data-analyst position he planned to start in July had been axed. “This just made me realize how fragile things are.”
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Some recruiters caution that there hasn’t been a large wave of job offers canceled. At the same time, employers still can’t find enough workers for many types of jobs.
Yet, “going from zero to a fairly small amount seems like a big increase,” said Brian Kropp, vice president of human-resources research for advisory firm Gartner.
He said having a job offer rescinded was almost unheard of six months ago. “If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of years, it’s that things can change quickly,” he said.
Mr. Salinas is one of many recent college graduates who locked in a job while he wrapped his studies. Information-technology consulting firm Turnberry Solutions in October offered him a data-analyst job based in Minneapolis. An international student from Peru, he said he had passed on other offers to accept Turnberry’s. Having landed the employer-sponsored visa required to remain in the country, he felt secure in signing a lease and making other plans.
The firm called to rescind the offer this month. A Turnberry spokeswoman confirmed two offers for data analysts had been rescinded, though the company says it is still hiring for other skill sets.
“We don’t take the decision to rescind offers lightly,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the firm had paid the two consultants two months ’rent to help compensate. “We periodically need to adjust the skills we bring in given changes in demand from our clients.”
Other companies attribute canceled job offers to the knock-on effects of a tech-industry slowdown — including the firm that made Jenna Radwan an offer in May. It rescinded the offer two weeks before each June start date.
Hirect, a chat-based app focused on tech recruiting, had wowed the 21-year-old with a starting salary of $ 80,000, plus the promise of a minimum uncapped commission of $ 195,000 and the flexibility to set her own schedule. Ms. Radwan felt confident enough to turn down three other jobs and withdraw from three additional interview processes, she said.
“They gave me a strict deadline, so I was like,‘ I’m just going to go ahead and take this and go with my gut, ’” she said.
As she prepped to start, the recruiter sent her an email: Hirect was pulling the offer and freezing hiring because of drastic and unforeseen changes in market conditions.
“We haven’t been immune to these recent challenges, nor the considerable belt-tightening going on throughout our industry,” a Hirect spokesman said of a recent slump in tech hiring that led the company to rescind two job offers.
Ms. Radwan is proceeding more carefully in her renewed hunt for a marketing, sales or account-management job. She plans to complete every hiring process before accepting any offer, even if it means asking for more time to decide, she said.
“I didn’t even know that this type of thing could even happen,” she said.
Other jilted job seekers say they are tackling their new searches differently, too. Raleigh Burke accepted a claims-analyst job at a Los Angeles-based insurance brokerage in May, gave notice at her old job the same day, then jetted to Hawaii for some rest. By the time she got home, her offer had evaporated without an explanation. She was surprised, she said, because she had been told she was the top candidate.
Ms. Burke, 35, had turned down an offer with another company to accept this one. “So what do I do, go with my tail between my legs and crawling back?” she said. Next time she pursues a job switch, she said she might not resign until she receives a laptop from the new company or starts its onboarding process.
For now, many hiring managers say signing up new recruits remains highly competitive. A Gartner survey of more than 350 HR executives conducted at the end of May found around 50% thought the competition for talent would increase over the next six months. Nearly two-thirds said they hadn’t made any changes to their hiring practices or HR budgets in response to economic volatility.
While startups, companies in the ad-tech industry, and those that are pre-IPO might be less stable right now, it’s still a job candidate’s market, said Keith Feinberg, senior vice president with professional staffing firm Robert Half. Still, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if job seekers evaluate some opportunities more cautiously than a few months ago.
Steven Pope, 32, was supposed to start a new job as a data director for a retail marketing firm after Memorial Day weekend. Instead, he’s job hunting again after his start date was put on hold indefinitely. The company told him an expected round of funding had been delayed, he said.
Mr. Pope is now taking as many interviews as he can get, he said. He’s also rethinking the types of opportunities he’s willing to consider.
“I’m looking at how these companies are backed up or paid,” he says, adding that his friends in tech are starting to prioritize differently in their own searches. “I see there’s a little bit of a shift already where security is going to come before comp.”
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