What to Do When You Don’t Get The Job

By Gerald Walsh ©

The part of my role as an executive recruiter that I like the least is calling candidates to tell them they did not get the job. No one likes delivering bad news – me included – but it is a necessary part of the process. Plus, I know it is better to be upfront and let people know as soon as possible that they are not in the running any more. Most people prefer to know they did not get the job rather than hearing nothing at all, which unfortunately is the case more often than it should be.

It’s always disheartening when you don’t get the job especially if it was a job you really wanted and you were one of the finalist candidates. The news can be even more demoralizing if you’ve been looking for a job for a long time and received several rejections. Most people will tell you to “accept it and move on” – which is the right thing – but much easier said than done.

Here are five quick tips to help you deal with this disappointment:

1. Share your disappointment with a friend

The first step in getting over job rejection is to share your disappointment, frustration or anger with a friend or someone you feel confident sharing your emotions with. I would also encourage you to remember that the odds of getting any one job are low. That’s because the competition is usually stiff with many talented people applying. Remember, only one person gets the job.

You may also want to head out for a run or go to the gym. Even though you may not feel like doing so, physical exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of your frustrations.

2.Analyze your performance during the interview

If you can, try to obtain constructive feedback from the interviewer or recruiter. For example, not long ago, in response to a candidate asking, I told her that she might consider not relying on her notes too much during the interview as she came across as too scripted and not spontaneous. She appreciated that feedback and said she would adapt in future interviews.

I suggested to another candidate that he give fewer examples from his volunteer work and more from his paid work experience. I felt this would have been more effective in demonstrating his skills. He understood how this could improve his job interview performance in the future.

Often an employer will not give feedback but that shouldn’t stop you from doing a critical self-analysis to determine if there is anything about your answers, dress, impression or questions that you could have done differently. Also, don’t eliminate the possibility that you might have done everything perfectly: you performed to the best of your ability; demonstrated all your competencies and skills; and made a favourable impression. There was nothing more you could have done. It was just that there was a better qualified candidate who got the job.

3.Do not react in a negative way

When someone does provide feedback, even if you disagree, always accept the information with an open mind. Thank the person for providing it and never, ever react angrily or start to argue. They will not change their mind. It will come across as immature and unprofessional and almost certainly burn any bridges with that employer.

Here is an example of an appropriate email I received from a candidate after advising her she was not getting the job. Note how professional she is:

Dear Gerry,

I really appreciate your call and the feedback you provided me. While I was obviously disappointed that I was not selected, I am confident they have chosen the right candidate for the job. Please do keep my resume on file in case you find a good match for me in the future. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Best regards,

[Name withheld]

4.Network with the interviewer

If you make a positive impression on the interviewer, even if you didn’t get the job, she might be able to help you with your job search. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. And stay in touch with them via the occasional email. Who knows? Maybe the person they hired will not work out or perhaps another opening will arise.

5.Accept it and move on

Don’t carry interview baggage with you. It will simply paralyze you and prevent you from being at the top of your game in future interviews. Instead, keep your momentum going by approaching new opportunities with enthusiasm and rigour. I believe there is the right job out there for everybody. Just keep at it until you find the right one for you.

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn