You polished your resume and cover letter, dressed your best and looked sharp, aced all the interview questions and had a good rapport with the interviewer. Maybe you even got a second or third call back, only to hear a week or so later that they chose another candidate. You feel defeated, angry and maybe even hurt. You truly feel you were the best choice and did everything you could to present that to the prospective employer.
What do you do next?
It may seem silly, but give yourself a day or two to grieve the loss of the job. Maybe it was the career that would change your life or something you had been working toward for years. It is very normal to experience fluctuating emotions about what happened. Lean on family, your partner, or friends for support and guidance. I was on my fourth interview with a company when they decided, suddenly, to cancel and go with another candidate. I was crushed, but with support, began to feel a little better. I can’t tell you that it doesn’t still sting a bit, but after a few days, you will feel better.
Many people when they are turned down for a job don’t take the time to call the former prospective employer and ask how they could improve. Maybe they were looking for someone with more experience, or maybe your skill set just wasn’t the right fit. It usually is not a personal matter and they will almost always be willing to answer your concerns. Be aware that they are busy people and may take awhile to reply. A phone call is always best, as its more personal and shows initiative, but a formal business email would also be a good choice.
I would strongly advise not making this call right after you are turned down for the position. You may be feeling angry, or tearful, and that can come across in your voice. Often when we type an email out in a bad mood, it comes through and can be off-putting. You want to leave that prospective employer with a positive thought about you.
Send a Thank You Note
Sending a thank you note or card can let the employer know you truly did appreciate their time and energy spent on interviewing you. If they answered any questions for you regarding why you didn’t get the position, it is especially important to thank them for that. It also can help foster a connection for if more openings happen at the company. Businesses receive very few thank you notes so it will absolutely make you stand out in their mind. Reiterate your skills and that you look forward to possibly working for them in the future.
After not getting the job I truly desired, I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to continue trying to look for jobs and felt stuck. It felt utterly impossible that a company would want to hire me. My thought process was that if company X didn’t want me, why would company Y or company Z want me?
The answer is: it just wasn’t the right career for you at that time. Maybe it was something you would have excelled at, but there are other companies that can also help you grow your skills. If the prospective employer suggested more experience, take one or two entry level jobs and gain more experience and reapply for your dream job.
Don’t sell yourself short, either. When you get rejected, you can feel bad about yourself in all areas of life, not just your career. Make a list of your skills and things you enjoy doing. Research careers that fit into your skill set. Perhaps consider additional career training at a vocational school. Join an organization or program that lets you build leadership skills and use your talents. Not only will you be better prepared for your next job, you will stay busy and energized.
One night after I was rejected from my dream job, I sat down and revamped my cover letter and resume and set forth applying for more jobs that fit my skill set. I was still a bit sad about being rejected, but used that energy to force myself to try harder. Within a week I had scheduled six interviews for various companies that did value my skill set. Persistence and patience are key, and with a lot of hard work, you will reach your career goals even if its one step at a time.
Want more job hunting tips?
How to Ace Your Next Interview