In the course of your job search, you’ve probably come across someone who talks about how they lucked into some great opportunity, clicked with an interviewer right away, and basically walked away with a job offer on the spot. And you probably hate that person a little, especially if you’ve experienced what just about all of us have at some point: a rejection after going through the application process.
Let’s face it: that rejection always stings, even if you know you weren’t a good fit or you didn’t have a good interview. Thinking you may not get a job and the confirmation of that fact feel like two different things. So how do you cope after you get the call, email, or deafening silence that confirms the worst?
Mourn it a little, but then move on.
This is a disappointment. It’s okay to embrace that, but it’s really not worth wallowing for too long. Whether you were the next choice on the list or dead last in the rankings, the end result is the same, so why dwell? Even if you had your heart set on this new gig and envisioned yourself getting that sweet, sweet offer letter, you can’t let the disappointment derail your progress in your job hunt.
Don’t expect specific intel on why you weren’t hired.
Unless you’re told directly that they didn’t hire you for X reason, you’re probably never going to know for sure exactly why you lost out on this job. Don’t look for closure from the company, because you might be disappointed in what you get. If you ask for specific feedback, you may get it, but it’s just as likely you’ll get a response like, “we decided to go in a different direction.”
Remember that it doesn’t mean you’re un-hireable.
It can be tempting to personalize the decision. Why didn’t they want to hire ME? What did I do to make this happen? Chances are, it wasn’t you, personally, who triggered the rejection. Maybe someone else had a few more experience points or aced the interview. Just because this particular company decided not to hire you does not mean you’re fundamentally flawed as a candidate or that it will affect your chances on your next application.
Consider it a chance to regroup.
Getting a rejection is a chance to take an honest look at what happened at every step of the process (review your resume, reflect on the interview) and decide what you can improve for next time. It can make you leaner and meaner, and ready for the next job to come along. Were you as prepared as you could have been? Did the interview go well or were there things you’d change? Can your resume be more targeted and reflective of your top skills? These are important questions to ask after any job rejection.
Not getting the job is also a chance to think about what your job search goals are. Did you really want this job? Do you want to continue looking for this specific kind of job after all? The bottom line is that this is a good chance to re-evaluate yourself—both as a potential employee and as a job seeker.
After any job rejection, it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. It’s a letdown for sure, but for whatever reason, this job just wasn’t right. At some point, the stars will align, and you’ll find an employer who thinks you’re a perfect match for their job opening. Don’t lose your motivation or your faith in yourself—see it as an opportunity to learn from the experience and move on to the next thing.