Joynese Speller was excited to start a new job as a project delivery specialist for a healthcare company on June 6.
When she wrapped up her old nonprofit job on Friday, she emailed her new company to confirm her start date on Monday. Hours later, she received another email: The company had some logistics to work on on its end, so Speller will actually start on Tuesday. She slipped on Wednesday, then Thursday.
On Friday, Spiller received a phone call. Due to budget cuts, the job you haven’t started yet has been cancelled.
“I was told they were trying to find me a job in a different department, but it’s also the end of their fiscal year, so they’re taking a long time to get back to me,” Spiller, 26, of Charlotte, North Carolina, tells CNBC Make It. “I left one job thinking I was going to another one, so I wasn’t financially prepared for what was to come.”
Returning to her old workplace, which she says is “toxic” and has a high turnover rate, wasn’t an option — but she needed to pay for car repairs and care for her 4-year-old son. She’s been handing Doordash to make ends meet for the past three weeks.
After taking a few days to process a canceled job offer, Speller launched the LinkedIn job application site and saw more news about major corporate layoffs and bids back. “I didn’t realize it was prevalent until it happened to me,” she says.
Going from quick hiring to canceling offers en masse is ‘very unusual’
The latest Labor Department data shows that the US labor market remains tight, and Workers have greater bargaining power than ever before. Job opportunities and quit rates have risen in the past year while unemployment has fallen. As of April, there were approximately two vacancies for every worker who wanted one.
But over the past few weeks, many employers have begun scrambling to tighten their budgets due to rising inflation, a looming recession, and volatility in the cryptocurrency market. Tech giants like Uber and Meta have said they will cut hiring, while others including Robinhood, Peloton and Carvana have laid off workers.
Weeks after announcing its hiring freeze, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase laid off 18% of its workforce and began withdrawing job offers. Other companies including Twitter and Redfin have canceled the offers in recent weeks.
Most of these high-profile employee cuts come from high-growth tech companies focused on eliminating early career jobs, says Syed Upadiye, co-founder and CEO of recruitment firm WizeHire. There may also be a problem brewing for other employers closely related to economic conditions, such as in the mortgage and financial sectors.
Upadhyay says the transition from quick hiring to canceling shows, due to dramatic market fluctuations, is “very unusual”. “The broader economic environment has changed a lot: tech companies have been incentivized to grow at any cost, and within weeks, we’ve moved into a world where we focus on resilience.”
Fears of “crypto winter” affect more than just crypto companies
Markel Turner Gilchrist, 35, of Los Angeles, thought he had found a “match made in pro heaven” when he found an opening with a social trading company in April. He hit it off with the team during interviews and dinner, and a few days later, an offer arrived in his inbox.
Turner Gilchrist took the weekend to think about it. On Monday, he sent an email with a few questions about the job details, then “I haven’t heard from the co-founder for a few days, which is weird, because the communication until then has been great,” he said.
A few days later, Turner Gilchrist received a call from the CEO, who rescinded the job offer — stating that the company was largely funded by crypto investors whose digital assets were losing value by the day. Turner Gilchrist recalls being told by the CEO, “We are reconsidering what is happening in the cryptocurrency market that has taken an unfortunate turn, and as a result, we don’t think it is a good idea to raise staff at this time.”
“I’ve heard of canceling shows,” Turner Gilchrist says, noting that sometimes background checks or professional references don’t work. “But that has never happened to me [before]. “
To some extent, he considers himself lucky: “I could have been laid off in three months, and it would be worse,” he says. If anything, experience has taught him to be more careful in interviews. He says he’s more inclined to ask about company retention rates, thinks news of canceled offers or recent layoffs should be recorded in hiring boards, and believes senior leaders should be more vocal about their organization’s financial health.
“I don’t look at crypto-neighbours at all,” he adds.
Despite fluctuations in some sectors, it is still a market for job seekers
27-year-old Jennifer Bell was set to start a job as COO of Walmart in Louisville, Kentucky, but within days of accepting the offer, she received a call that the role had been cancelled. “It’s almost unbelievable,” she says. “I had a day to feel bad, and then the next day I started applying for jobs left and right.”
A Walmart spokesperson said the company is not currently canceling open jobs or canceling job offers, and declined CNBC Make It’s request for comment on personnel matters. Despite the experience, Bell says she is still in touch with Walmart’s hiring manager — and would take another position with the company, if offered, calling it “stagnation resistant.”
“I’m optimistic, knowing this is the kind of company that has been stable for decades,” she says. She adds, however, that returning to your job search is emotionally challenging: “It’s hard to do well and say to yourself every day, ‘Hey, it’s not you,’ when you know it’s not worth your trust or your background.”
By contrast, Bell says she would not return to her previous employer even if asked. In May, Bell was one of 2,500 people laid off from Carvana. She says some people were escorted out of the building, while others were laid off at home via a Zoom call.
“If Carvana calls again and wants to bring me in, I don’t care how much they give me. I’ll say ‘No’,” Bell says. “This trust is betrayal.”
Bell may still have that leeway to turn down job offers: She says she does a lot of interviews these days, including for the HR manager job she says she’s excited about. Upadhyay asserts that it is still a market for job seekers in most sectors, and economists say the demand for tech workers remains so high that anyone laid off in the industry is likely to be quickly hijacked by recruiters.
Upadhyay urges candidates to remember the following: A canceled job offer is a reflection of the business whose balance sheet is determined, not the job seeker’s skills or abilities.
“Overall, we see canceled shows in a small number of cases,” says Upadhyay. “There are still hundreds of thousands of new jobs on the market, and most of the organizations that offer offers are resilient and profitable businesses.”
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