So after all of that hard work and preparation you did for your interview, not to mention the days or weeks of waiting for a reply, you finally get an email response from the employer. Guess what? They’ve decided to go in “another direction.” You may be devastated or frustrated but it’s important to remember that getting turned down for a job is something that everyone will probably face at one point or another. Sure, there are some people are able that are fortunate to get every job they interview for. However, when you consider that there’s a vast majority of applicants that don’t even get invited to “take a swing” at a job, you shouldn’t consider missing out as one of the biggest failures of your career.
According to Forbes, the average number of applicants in 2013 for any one job was around 118. From those that applied, about 20% (which is roughly 24 applicants) were actually called in for an interview. Remember, that number is an average so there were certainly instances of people interviewing for a position that saw 50 applicants, and some positions that may have seen only 5 applicants walk through the doors. So just relax and take the opportunity to make yourself a better candidate in the future.
Expand Your Network
One of the first things that you should do after a rejection is thank the interviewer for their time. You could do this with a simple email reply or you could go old school and write a letter. Either way, it’s important that you’re do not say “goodbye” as much as you say “until we meet again”. In your letter, you’re going to want to not only thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet with them, but also ask them to keep you in mind for future position openings. Networking, which is a good way to get into that 20% mentioned above, is all about opening doors. What better door to leave cracked than the one from a job or company you clearly were interested in?
But your networking shouldn’t stop there. While it’s great to say that you’re interested in keeping in touch, you need to make sure to actually do so yourself. Send your interviewer an email every once in a while. You shouldn’t do it every week or month, but maybe keep a correspondence twice every quarter. An interview is all about setting yourself apart from other candidates and keeping yourself at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind could help you be their first call when another position opens with that company.
Evaluate Your Performance
Sometimes the best thing you can do after missing out on a job is to figure out why. The employer won’t always go into depth as to why you weren’t in their plans going forward, so the onus is on you to ask the question. It’s hardly a strange thing to ask and it could help show the interviewer (and more importantly, the company) how serious you still are about that particular career.
The one thing that you want to make sure of is that you don’t come off as disgruntled or angry with their decision. A blatant negative reaction to their feedback can hurt your chances of growing your network. Remember, any information that you get back is valuable, whether you find out that they prioritize hiring from within or they simply thought that you needed more experience. Maybe there were warning signs strewn across your social media profiles? You could even find out that you were overqualified for the roll which would allow you to set your sights higher.
Expect More to Come
Getting discourage at the first (or even the second or third) hurdle is not the way to go. As mentioned before, not everyone gets called in for an interview, so it speaks to your credentials that you made the cut. Every single rejection should be taken as an opportunity to get better. You have to keep looking for openings and you have to stay positive. It’s also important to keep up with recruiters and keep tabs on the movements or transitions of certain companies.
That’s not to say that you should focus solely on your job hunt. If you’re searching while you’re still employed then continuing to exceed at your position will only help you become a better candidate for the next position you apply for. Who knows? It could even get you a promotion that you weren’t expecting.
So if you’ve recently been turned down after an interview or haven’t had any luck taking that next step in your career, just remember that it’s all part of the process. As Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”