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The Biggest Mistake After a Job Rejection

June 12, 2014

Rats! You've received the dreaded "thank you for your interest but..." letter, and youreally thought you were going to get that job. Maybe you were the number 2 or number 3 candidate.

Close, but no cigar. Dang!

What now? Move on to the next opportunity, right? Of course. But first...

Try turning that rejection letter on its head! Convert it into an opportunity. Maybe.

Send a Thank YouNote!

Really, at this point, what do you have to lose?

If you sincerely liked the people and the organization and would want to be considered when another opportunity opens there, the biggest mistake you can make is giving up on the employer and the people you liked. Instead, send a nice thank you note to the hiring manager, the recruiter, and everyone else who was in the interview process.

Send a Thank You Note? For a Rejection? Seriously? Yes!

They've already offered the job to someone else and probably gotten an acceptance. But that person may change their mind and never start the job. Or that person may take the job but prove to be unsatisfactory. It happens more often than you think.

So, what does the employer do when they face this situation? They groan, roll their eyes, and take another look at the applicants who almost got the job. Why? Because they really don't want to start from scratch, post the job, review the resumes, schedule interviews, spend time in meetings discussing the job and the candidates, etc.

Filling a job takes an employer a lot of time and energy. Staff time for interviews plus the cost of posting the job, etc. is expensive for most employers.

  • If the new employee failed quickly, they may reach back to the almost-hired list to see who is available.

  • If the new employee stayed a while before they failed (or left), a new job may be posted, but you might have an "inside track" IF you made a positive impression on them.

Either way, you have provided a very nice sample of your attitude and interest in the organization and the people you met. And that will probably be remembered.

What to Write

Don't try to fake enthusiasm you don't feel -- it will be visible. If you really didn't like the people you met and don't want to work there, don't bother with writing this note.

If you decide to write it, include the following elements in your note:

  • Thank you for letting you know the outcome of the search, even though they didn't choose you.

  • Thank you for the time, courtesy, and consideration shown you during the interview process. (Hopefully true!)

  • Express your disappointment in not getting the job.

  • Share your appreciation for the opportunity to learn about the organization and meet the people working there.

  • Reiterate of your continued interest in working in their organization.

  • Request that they get in touch with you for the next time a job is opened.

Thank you notes are rare. And, a thank you for a rejection is so unusual that they can be very effective, possibly bumping you up from number two or number three to number one on the almost-hired list.

Networking!

Send a separate, unique note to each person. Email is probably OK (but not one generic thank you with everyone copied on the TO: list!).

If you get a response (or two), you may have an advocate(s) inside the organization for future opportunities. Nurture the relationship - maybe connect on LinkedIn, perhaps schedule an information interview about opportunities at that employer or in that field, or just send an email occasionally (maybe monthly) about something of mutual interest.

With luck, a relationship will develop into a strong network connection, particularly if you felt the person was an ally in your attempt to land that first job.

Bottom Line

I've worked in HR; I've seen this work! And so have many others. A sincere thank you note after a rejection will really stand out. The probability that it will pay off may be less than 5 percent, but that probability may show a higher return on the investment of your time than any other job search action you take that day, and it won't take long to do.

 

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