Softening the Blow

Posted on June 15th, 2010 by

You had high hopes for this job.  The job requirements matched your skill set perfectly.  You aced your interviews.  And you imagined hearing those sweet words so many long to hear: “You’re hired.”
Instead you got a rejection letter.  According to recent Department of Labor stats, there are nearly six people vying for every open position – so most interviews will end with the candidate being passed on.  And that can be a crushing blow – but it can also be a career-making moment.  When you don’t get the job, what should your next steps be?

First of all, don’t beat yourself up.  Sometimes you really didn’t do anything wrong – companies may go through the motions of interviewing applicants when they have already decided who will get the job.  It happens – at least you got another chance to perfect your interview skills, right?
When you get the news that they went with another candidate, handle it graciously.  How you conduct yourself in this unfortunate moment can determine if the company will think of you next time a position opens up.  Send a hand-written card thanking them for their time, expressing your interest in the company. and say that you would like to be kept in mind for future openings. 
Finally, ask for feedback.  Before you do though, make it clear that you accept their choice not to hire you – no one will give you feedback if they think you are going to argue or appeal.  If you can’t keep your cool, than skip this step.  But if you can handle it, this can provide great insight into how you can better position yourself next time.  Be aware that some companies (typically large ones) will shy away from giving any feedback and will send you a canned response.  But others would love to answer you if you say “If you don’t mind me asking, do you have any feedback on how I can improve for future interviews?”  Keep the conversation positive and professional – you could be their backup candidate!


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