rejection in the job search happens

How to Bounce Back After Not Getting the Job

You were thrilled about a potential new job, only to learn that they “decided to move forward with a different candidate”. Sheer disappointment sets in, leaving you saddened, confused, and to be honest, a bit angry. Rejection is hard – especially if you had your sights set on something that seemed so great. After taking a moment to wind down (and ice cream up!), here is what you should do:

1.) Know that it is okay to be upset.

Listen, you gave this prospect your all, taking the time to research, interview, and build rapport with the hiring staff. You had likely already committed to this role, envisioning yourself within it as you moved further along with the interview process. This may be particularly disappointing if you are currently out of work, or working within a job you feel you have outgrown. It is OKAY to be upset. In fact, you should take a day to recognize and reflect on how you feel. But then, it is important to move on.

2.) Thank them for their time and consideration.

Once you feel as if you are in a better place emotionally, it is important to follow up. Graciously thank the recruiter and hiring manager for their time. I recommend connecting with them on LinkedIn as well so that your relationship can continue should another opportunity present itself (whether with this company or another – remember, this is a chance to network). If you are comfortable, I also recommend asking for feedback, even though it is rare to receive any. For example:

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your time and consideration. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know you and your team. Is there anything specific that helped shape your decision? Again, thank you. Please keep me in mind for any future opportunities. I wish you much success!

Kindest Regards,

3.) Focus on what you did that was positive—get past the negative.

Okay, you didn’t get the job – so obviously they didn’t like you, right? WRONG.

Sometimes, things are completely out of your control. They could have decided to go with an internal candidate, or maybe they went with someone who had a background that aligned more with their specific needs. Regardless of their reasoning – you were interviewed through to the end, which means – they did in fact like you, and had genuinely considered you for the position. 

Instead of dissecting your interactions with a fine-tooth comb (yes, you will find things you could tweak here or there), focus on what went right. Your resume obviously made it through the ATS system, and your answers to their questions pushed you to the last round. They seemed particularly interested and impressed with your project management skills, so you must have conveyed them well. Think of some items you can improve upon (as far as being prepared and comfortable speaking about certain aspects of your career) and move forward knowing you gained excellent interviewing experience!

4.) What was it that you loved about this job?

Take it a step further and really stop and think about what it is that you loved about this position. Was it the casual atmosphere? Dog-friendly Friday? Was it the mission of the organization? The vision? The flexible work schedule? Consider this a gift: you can now look for companies that fit this mold, rather than sorting through positions blindly. You know what excites you, and can use that as the main criteria for your job search.

5.) The cliché is true, everything happens for a reason.

Don’t place this job on a pedestal of what if and if only. You certainly won’t see what’s ahead of you if you keep looking back. Like a nasty breakup, reflect on the good moments, learn from the bad, and press on with your hunt for the right one. And remember, a new day is dawning. 

Your dream job is waiting!

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