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What to Do (and NOT Do) When You Don’t Get the Job

You probably already know this, but life is not a fairy tale. As part of that, you’re not going to land a job every time you apply for one. In fact, you probably won’t land a job every other time you apply for one.

And yes, there are certain feelings of rejection that can accompany not being selected for the position. Questions might race through your mind, such as the following:

  • What did I do wrong?
  • Was I not good enough?
  • Was I close to landing the job . . . or was it not even close?
  • What should I do differently in the future?

While it’s natural to ask these questions, you must be careful with what you say and do once it becomes obvious that you are not going to get the job. Below are some things that you should do:

#1—Thank the hiring manager for their time.

Despite the fact that you were not selected, you must be both courteous and gracious. Send an email (or a personal letter) thanking the hiring manager. If possible, reference specific parts of the interview, leaving a positive impression in their mind. You never know if they’ll need to fill another position.

#2—Ask for feedback.

If possible, solicit some feedback from the hiring manager, indicating that you’re looking for ways to improve. More than likely, they’ll be willing to share at least some feedback with you. They’ll appreciate your desire for honesty and your desire to get better in your job search. (Note: if you’re working with a staffing agency, also ask that agency’s employees to provide feedback. The more, the merrier.)

#3—Make a list of things that you can improve.

A successful job search is all about getting better over time. If you didn’t land the job this time, make the adjustments necessary to ensure that you’re one step closer to success.

Now let’s look at the other, less attractive side of the equation. Below is a list of things that you should NOT do:

#1—Don’t send a negative email.

Unfortunately, this has happened before. People let their emotions get the best of them, and they lash out in anger. Nothing good ever comes of that. Angry job seekers have called hiring managers names and even claimed that the manager would regret not hiring them. The irony is that, after such a display, there’s no way that the hiring manager would experience regret.

#2—Don’t become discouraged.

Rejection is part of the job search process. It happens to everybody. However, that’s no reason to become genuinely discouraged or dejected. Every rejection brings you closer to landing a job that you really like and enjoy. While this might be difficult to do, talking with family and/or friends about the experience could be helpful.

#3—Keep plugging away!

Don’t ever give up on your job search. Be committed and stay committed. You never know: the next job for which you apply may very well turn out to be the best move for you and your career. You’ve probably heard this expression before: “Good things come to those who wait.” A better way to put it is this way: “Good things come to those who don’t give up.”

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