We’ve all been there. You found a job description that fit your skills, got your hopes up, and then it didn’t work out. You may have even followed our previous advice to polish up your resume, research the role, and prepare for the interview. But you didn’t get the position.
Losing out on a job can feel like a personal rejection, and that can make it hard to move on. In fact, research shows that those who have been looking for work for more than 10 weeks experience a negative impact on both their physical and mental health. This may be because job interviews feel like an evaluation of you as a person, even if they aren’t.
Of course, since only one person can be hired for a position, the odds of getting a rejection letter are always higher than a job offer. Therefore, a successful job hunter will need to make the most out of every application – including learning from the inevitable rejections.
Three things to do when you don’t get the job
Take a few minutes to acknowledge that it didn’t work out the way you wanted, but that doesn’t mean you are a bad candidate or that you won’t get the next job you apply for. There are plenty of reasons you may have been passed over for this position including things out of your control. Research shows that even for the most serious applications, success or failure can depend on something as simple as how recently the evaluator ate lunch. Other times there are things you could have done better (you can read about seven common things here). Identifying these possibilities will help you improve moving forward.
Be sure to review the experience for any lessons you can learn. Sometimes frustration and sadness are the price we pay for a valuable learning experience. Make sure get something out of it! Were there questions that you feel you could have answered better? Did you have relevant experiences that you could have showcased more? Were the position, company, and culture the right fit for you?
2. Reach Out
Just because you didn’t get this position with your favorite company doesn’t mean there won’t be more openings that fit your skillset in the future. Politely responding to a rejection email with thoughtful questions can show the employer that you are a mature candidate who is interested in using negative feedback to improve themselves for the future. Not sure what to include in your response? Check out this blog from Indeed.com for inspiration.
This can also be a good time to reach out to people you know, such as friends and family members that you trust to give you good advice. Sometimes people close us can see things that we cannot, while also understanding our strengths, weaknesses, and goals better than an employer you may have only met once. Is there someone you know that can take a look at your resume for you?
Now that you’ve reflected on your experience and have gotten feedback from on your application, it’s time to get back to work! Nothing shakes off feelings of rejection faster than working toward a new goal. Let’s start with the most basic advice: even though many things are outside of your control, you need to make sure that you take control of everything you can. Two areas you can control during the job search process: the jobs you apply to, and the interview.
Applying to the best jobs for you:
Sometimes all you have when researching a job is the title and a short description. This can occasionally lead to confusion or, worse, time wasted applying to a job that you don’t want or that you aren’t qualified for. Perhaps you made it as far as the interview before you realized that the job wasn’t what you expected. There are some things you can do to make sure you’re using your time and efforts efficiently.
- Learn the lingo. Coordinator, Associate, Manager, Director, they all mean different things at different companies. Review the company’s team page to see how they use titles to make sure you’re applying to positions that have you have the right level of experience for. For example, you can meet some of CSD’s team here
- Review the required and preferred skills section. The skills listed in these sections are likely going to be what much of your time will be spent on. Do you have any experiences that you needed to use these skills for? Did you enjoy those experiences?
- Scope out the culture. Do you know anyone that works at the company? Can you find any of their current/past employees on LinkedIn? Reach out and ask how they like working there, and what the culture is like. If you’re unable to find someone to talk to you can always check out their reviews on sites like GlassDoor.
How to improve your interview skills:
- Practice, practice, practice. Hiring managers often pull from a list of commonly asked interview questions, which makes it a little easier to prepare your answers. You will likely be asked questions about your strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and motivation for joining that company. Take time practicing your answers in front of a mirror or with a friend to make the experience a little less nerve-wracking.
- Recall your skills and accomplishments. During an interview, it’s important to connect your successful experiences to the role you’re applying for. Take some time to write down your accomplishments and what skills it took to be successful in those situations. Do those skills match any listed in the job description? This will make it easier for you to identify what experiences you should be highlighting and will give you relevant talking points.
Are you in the middle of a never-ending job search? Watch this video on how to maintain your confidence.
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