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5 things to do when you don't get the job

Posted by: Rebecca Craighill
Company News

We all know the chances are slim of bagging the first job we go after. You’ll likely apply to a fair few jobs before battling through application, screening, phone call, interview (first, second, third?), all the way to the holy grail of job hunts: the offer!

We’ve talked previously about how to be successful during your job hunt, but when you’re up against potentially dozens of fellow applicants, rejection is always a possibility.

So what should you do when you don’t get the job?

1. Adopt the right mindset

Job hunting isn’t easy. It takes time and effort to update your CV & LinkedIn, jump on the top job boards and fire over your application. Whether you’re applying to a hundred jobs a week or hand-picking a select few specialist roles, you’re going to run into rejection one way or another. So it’s important to adopt the right mindset and not take it personally.

But remember - it’s ok not to be offered every role you go for. 

Regardless of the reason, only one person can be successful and, on this occasion, that person wasn’t you. It’s vital to build up your mental resilience so that when rejection comes your way you can shrug it off and move on.

Don’t waste time thinking about a failed opportunity when that time could be better spent focusing on the next one.

On that note…..

2. Don’t fall in love

Sometimes you stumble upon a job that feels like a perfect fit – a fantastic salary, great culture, flexi-time, casual dress, and - what’s this?! - an office dog!

Regardless of how great a job looks on paper, don’t fall in love. First of all, you should be wary of job descriptions that don’t highlight the challenges ahead. Second, can you imagine how you’ll feel if you pin your hopes on your dream job, only to miss out? Devastated!

By all means apply for roles which match your specifications as closely as possible but be sure to keep applying for other jobs while you wait to hear back. That way, if you’re rejected then you’ll be able to shrug it off knowing that there are plenty more fish in the sea.


3. Follow up

How many times have you read “if you don’t hear from us, assume your application has not been successful”?

So when you don’t hear back, safe to assume it’s the end of the road, right? But what if the application got buried in the wrong inbox or the hiring manager’s email reply ended up in your spam folder?

Point being – it’s always worth following up.

This is why we recommend our “get in front & follow up” method when going through the interview process. Send off your application, then identify the hiring manager and put in a phone call to let them know to expect it. We’d even suggest calling before you even send your first email.

As long as you conduct yourself professionally, no hiring manager is going to penalise you for keeping in contact throughout the process.

You might be met with “thanks, but no thanks” from some employers, but at least you’ll know you didn’t miss out on a job just because you didn’t communicate.


4. Ask for feedback & make it count

Not many employers offer constructive, actionable feedback when they reject an applicant. Sometimes they don’t find the time, but sometimes it genuinely doesn’t occur to them to offer this information.

So ask!

Not everyone will be 100% up front with you, but this is an incredible opportunity to get honest feedback on your performance, and it’s essential for the next step of your job hunt.

It’s no good putting your hands over your ears and pretending your flaws don’t exist – it’s far wiser to take constructive feedback on board and action the changes necessary to fill the gaps in your professional armour.

For example: if you don’t ask, you might assume your lack of industry knowledge is what stopped you earning that role, when it was actually your performance in a competency task. Armed with this info, you can work on your areas of weakness to ensure a stronger performance next time around.

No good can come from dismissing your potential weaknesses, so make the most of any constructive feedback you receive.

5. Keep in touch & don’t burn bridges

This brings us full circle to our first point about adopting the right mindset.

Rejection is never easy but try not to take it personally. You just weren’t the right fit this time around.

Regardless of how upset or frustrated you might be (with the hiring manager or yourself), remember to conduct yourself professionally. It’s a small world out there and people talk. If your knee-jerk response to rejection is to kick-off and bad-mouth a company, then you might just find that your behaviour comes back to bite you.

How you respond to feedback tells an employer a lot about you (learning from feedback is an essential part of every career), so make sure to thank the hiring manager for their time. Think about the impression you're making.

Yes, you’re disappointed, but you appreciate them considering you and it would be good to stay in touch. You weren’t a good fit for their company, but that might change in six months’ time when you’ve actioned their feedback. Likewise, maybe the hiring manager knows of another company where your skills can be utilised.

Every professional contact is a useful one. So regardless of how you feel, swallow any negative feelings and make sure you part ways with a smile and a handshake.

Don’t burn any bridges – you never know when you might need to rebuild them….


Further Reading

6 things not to say in an interview & what to say instead
5 ways to make a great over-the-phone first impression
6 essential interview questions you should always ask
5 CV cliches you need to avoid
5 essential interview research tips
6 ways to de-stress before your interview
7 tricky interview questions & how to tackle them

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