We’ve all been there — you had a great rapport with a recruiter or hiring manager and aside from a few snags, the job interview went pretty well. Maybe you even had several job interviews for the same role that all seemed promising. Still, after a little bit of time had passed, you received that dreaded job rejection letter.
“… we have decided to pursue other candidates…”
While job rejection can sting, there’s no reason to feel like you have wasted your time in pursuing a job with this particular organization. Sure, they turned you down this time, but you’re now on their radar. In this piece, we’re going to look at how to leverage job rejection — how to make the most out of being turned down for a job.
Preface: Building Bridges — Make A Lasting Positive Impression
Whether you feel like you have the job in the bag or you still aren’t 100% positive of your fate, it pays to always be warm and positive towards everyone you interact with from the organization. This list of people include the administrative assistants who lead you inside to your interviewers and all of their colleagues — even the security guard at the entrance of the building. Every person you meet and every interaction you have is a potential bridge you have to the company. Later in this article, we’ll look into the importance of maintaining those bridges.
Following your interview, it’s not a terrible idea to send a physical “Thank You” card to your interviewers and relevant individuals for meeting with you or helping you acquire an interview. While there’s no guarantee that this will sway the interviewers’ favor in your direction, it certainly can’t hurt your chances either.
Steps To Take Post-Job-Rejection
1. Don’t Take Job Rejection Personally
Your resume was a work of art and your performance in the job interview made you feel like a shoe-in for the position. Despite all of this, you received the dreaded job rejection letter. At times, the sting of job rejection can seem to be a dig at who you are as a person, but it is incredibly important to not take job rejection personally. While we’re naturally wired to want to be liked, there’s a good chance that no amount of positive feelings toward you will make up for the fact that you’re simply not a fit for a particular role. Frequently, in my job as a staffing company marketer, I’ve heard recruiters say something in the vein of, “She interviewed great and her resume was stunning, but the hiring manager needed some things that she simply didn’t have by no fault of her own. I’m definitely keeping her in my Rolodex of people to reach out to in the future for similar positions.”
2. Thoughtfully Plan Your Rejection Letter Response
After receiving a job rejection letter, the lingering bite can make you forget what the job rejection letter also is — the company corresponding with you. Whenever someone reaches out to you, it is not only courteous but usually expected that you will respond. When you respond, the floor is all of yours — a premise that can be both terrifying as well as promising. This should be seen instead as a great opportunity continue to maintain the bridges you’ve built. There’s a good chance that a number of applicants did not make it anywhere near as far as you have. If you received a job interview, that means that there was something promising enough about you that warranted further inquiry. Remember that you’ve already developed some form of a relationship with this company in your response and make sure that you’ve satisfied the following criteria:
A. Thank the organization’s representatives for their time. Possibly highlight something positive in the interview to help them remember you.
B. Express your continued interested in the organization as a whole.
C. Express that you would like to be considered for other roles that may better utilize your skills and experience.
The following is one possible such message template:
Subject line: (Your Name) — (Role Applied For) Position
Dear (Mr./Ms./Mrs.) (Last Name of Interviewer or Recruiter),
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me to discuss the (Role Applied For) position and the continued future of (Organization Name). I really enjoyed meeting you as well as (anyone else you met with) to learn more about the culture and needs of (Organization Name). Your company’s headquarters are stunning. I especially liked the (insert specific detail about the location).
Though disappointed that I was not selected for this position with (Organization Name), I would like to reiterate my interest in your company. Should a similar position arise or one that you feel may better utilize my experience and skills, I would like to be considered for such a role with your company.
I greatly appreciate your time.
3. Request Honest, Constructive Feedback About the Reason For Your Job Rejection
While you may be tempted to request additional feedback as to why you were rejected in this initial job rejection reply, make sure not to make this the primary focus of your initial response. The primary focus of your reply is to thank the organization for considering you — albeit even briefly — for this position. Asking for constructive criticism can be included in this message, but it should definitely take a backseat to your gratitude. The primary tone of your initial reply to a job rejection should not be the classic, “why didn’t I get the job?” line of questioning. If you make this the emphasis of your initial job rejection reply, your gratitude will lack sincerity and will not be the company’s takeaway from such a message.
So, when is the optimal time to ask specific questions about why you weren’t selected? It’s not uncommon to receive a reply to your job rejection reply, to which a subsequent reply would be deemed an appropriate time to request such information.
Some company representatives will have no qualms with providing specifics about the reason why you were rejected for a job, but some organizations may have policies that forbid representatives from providing such information. If you acquire this information, make sure to ask for both the positive as well as negative aspects of your candidacy. Make a special note of these that can be easily accessed later.
TL;DR: You can ask why you weren’t selected as a “P.S.” in your reply to your rejection letter. If they reply to this message, feel free to send another message asking for additional specific details as to the reason for your rejection.
4. Use The Job Description To Determine The Reason For Your Rejection
Many of the reasons why you were rejected for a job may be realized before you even submit a resume or application. Most of us are guilty of applying for various positions without completely comprehending the job description. If you are rejected for a particular job, be it before or after a job interview, there’s good reason to believe that the answer can be found in the job description. Compare your resume and other specified credentials with the job description. If you feel that you would be great for the job, but were rejected, determine if maybe you didn’t fully articulate some of your credentials enough in the application or interview process. Also be sure to make special note of some requested requirements that you may not have been able to fulfill.
5. Use Your Stats: Combine Interviewer Feedback With Credential Shortfalls To Improve Your Future Application And Interview Process
Once you have gathered all the data relevant to your job rejection. This includes feedback from a past interviewer or credential shortcomings from a job description oversight. Then use this information to dictate how you search, apply, and interview for jobs in the future. Feel free to strategize and make small tweaks to your approach until you notice a “sweet spot” of difference in the number job interviews, second or third job interviews, and even job offers you receive.
6. Remain Connected To Past Job Rejectors
Even if a recruiter or hiring manager rejected you for a specific job, there’s no reason to “unfollow”, “unlike”, or “unfriend” this individual on social media. Feel free to continue to interact with this individual’s posts — though do so sparingly or your interaction may seem disingenuous. Still, staying engaged with the company via newsletters or online interaction is not only a good means of learning about relevant job openings, but also the general happenings of the organization for use in future job application processes.
7. Strategically Apply For Relevant Positions With The Same Organization
Being rejected for a specific job also has the unique benefit of putting you on the radar of the company in question. While this may seem like a negative, it means your name has more recognition among those involved with hiring. Where most applicants are a blank-slate, this hiring manager will more-than-likely be able to quickly put your face with your name and consider you for the position. Provided that you built good bridges in your first attempts at being employed by the organization, their memory of you will be positive and likely move you closer to the top of the stack of resumes.
While applying for positions with past job rejectors can be a great idea, make sure that you are doing so strategically — using the information you’ve gathered in step 5. Carefully read through every job description to ensure a solid fit with your credentials. If notified with a job interview, carefully review the past feedback you received from the organization from the last job interview. Use their feedback to tweak your job interview performance to their liking.
8. Utilize The Assistance of an Experienced Job Recruiter
Though reading blog articles about job hunting and learning about job interview tips from books is definitely helpful, seeking the professional assistance of an experienced job recruiter can throttle your job search. The function of an experienced career recruiter is to not only find qualified job candidates for clients but also to help those candidates land the job to which they’ve been submitted. Recruiters assist job seekers by not only finding jobs that fit their skill set but also in assisting them in everything from putting together a solid resume to coaching candidates for job interviews.
In conclusion, don’t look at being rejected for a job as a negative experience. While you may not have landed this position, you have not only made it further than most individuals who have applied for the same position, but you’re also now better equipped with the necessary information when the next great opportunity greets you.