Bouncing Back from Job Rejection

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The job sounded like just the thing for you. So you polished your résumé and other materials, submitted your application, and endured a series of phone (and perhaps in-person) interviews. You returned home from the last interview and spent the next few days refreshing your email every few minutes, waiting for a sign—any sign—that your hire was imminent.

And then, three days after you last spoke to the hiring manager, an email finally arrived: rejection. We’re sorry, it read, but we’ve decided to go with another candidate. Better luck next time!

No matter how many times it happens to you, job rejection can hurt. Here are some tips for dealing with it:

Don’t Fixate

Following a job rejection, it’s tempting to analyze every sentence you wrote or spoke while pursuing the gig. Should you have said “Hi” instead of “Hey” when speaking to the recruiter on the phone? Did your decision to exclude a couple of projects from your résumé and cover letter ultimately doom your chances?

Picking apart your performance will accomplish little, all while driving you insane. If you developed a friendly rapport with the hiring manager, you can ask them (politely) for feedback on why they decided to go with another candidate; otherwise, it’s best to move on to the next opportunity. (And if the hiring manager refuses to tell you, be prepared to just let the matter drop.)

But Evaluate

While you shouldn’t fixate on details of your performance, sit down and evaluate how you did overall. Was your résumé and application as good as it could have been? Do your job-interviewing skills need a polish? Make a list of what you could have improved, and create a plan to work on each item.

Send a Thank-You

Sending a thank-you note is one of the most important things you can do in the wake of job rejection. Not only is it classy, but it potentially sets you up for a future interaction with the company. The note should thank the interviewer for his or her time, re-emphasize your interest in the company, and (potentially) solicit feedback on your application performance.

Vent and Move On

Whatever you do to relieve stress, now’s the time to do it. But after you let out your frustration and anger, refocus your attention on future opportunities. Your next job is out there.

4 Responses to “Bouncing Back from Job Rejection”

  1. It is very frustrating to not be let in on the reasons for not being considered. The job and the company and your background were a perfect fit. It’s such a good a fit you feel very confident you were the best candidate. So many things lined up great but somehow the hiring manager didn’t see it that way. WHY?! In my experience the candidate is never given and candid information on why. Who else out there has had this experience?

  2. Darlene M.

    The point is that it doesn’t matter why. You weren’t chosen. If you’re working with a recruiter, often you can solicit feedback from them. If not, you have to understand that there were other forces at play. BUT as the article mentions, think about what you could have done differently. Research answers to the questions you were asked that you know you bobbled and practice, practice, practice. Seek out a mentor or a career counselor who can provide valuable input as to your interviewing skills. And stay confident that your ideal job is out there.

  3. After going through the process (from both sides) multiple times – I have learned there are multiple reasons for rejection – most of which are other than qualifications, best-fit, presentation.
    You might very well be the best candidate and the hiring managers (preferred) choice!
    However, the offer went to another (possibly lesser) candidate.
    1) The slot was already planned as an internal promotion – but, they advertised and interviewed externally to conform with “non-discrimination policy”. Personally, I hate doing interviews from the company side and not being allowed to be honest to the candidate!
    2) Salary, even IF – you offer to work for less than your prior position – due to budget constraints – they may elect to hire a “less qualified” candidate for less money.
    3) (truly) “overqualified” – IF you have more skill/experience than the hiring manager or peer interviewers – they may feel threatened for the next promotion – and select “less competition”.
    4) “Agency conflict” – multiple (head-hunters) presented your resume – prior to disclosing the “name of client” – and lay claim to the “finders commission” – simple solution: hire a different candidate.
    5) You might be a great fit – but, they chanced upon a SUPER fit – who received the offer.
    I have observed all five of the above from both sides of the interview table.
    On several occasions – anywhere from a few days to months later – I have been called back – and offered a position! Either the other candidate did not stick – or, the company opened another similar position – and remembered me as a “good” candidate.