Turn job search rejection into progress

When the number of job seekers outnumbers the jobs available in the market, there will inevitably be job seekers who experience rejection. Recruiters and hiring managers filter through the stack of résumés quickly to find the best quality candidates to interview and hire. Unfortunately, job seekers are often left wondering why they didn’t make the cut.

As a team lead and sales manager, I have been in this situation many times: I needed to fill one chair on my team but had many great candidates to choose from. While I wished I could fill more spots to get all that talent for the team, budgeting brought me back to earth and forced me to make a hard choice. As a job seeker, you can’t take it personally — you just have to move on. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s true. Still, there are some things you can say and do to make sure that you increase your odds of getting an offer letter instead of rejection.

Get feedback
When you receive a rejection, ask for feedback immediately. I even recommend creating a short template that can be recited over the phone if the hiring manager has the time or that you can email out to them to be filled out and completed.

If you decide to ask why you weren’t selected, you should do it as soon as you are notified that you were not the winning candidate,” says John Scanlan, assistant director of the career services center at Cleveland State University in Cleveland. “If you do not receive notification, you can call the company a day or so after the date they said they would have a decision and ask them.”

This needs to be done ASAP so the reason is still fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. This feedback can be a crucial element in honing the part of the job search process that was the determining factor of you not getting the job. It could be your résumé, or your interview questions or answers. Any feedback can help keep you from repeating mistakes.

Keep your cool
Just because you didn’t get the offer, don’t lose your temper or burn any bridges. While your first reaction may be to feel angry or even say something mean, do not make this mistake. There’s a chance you could be the next potential candidate in line. If the person they offered the job to decides two weeks down the road that it was not the job they wanted and leaves, this puts you in line to be called in.

If you get the rejection notice, remember while asking for feedback to ask where you were in the hiring process, and ask to be kept in mind if any other related positions become available. This shows the hiring manager that even though you didn’t get the job, you still have interest in the company. Terry Henley, director of compensation services at Employers Resource Association (a nonprofit serving small and medium businesses in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana), notes that maintaining an interest in the company can have advantages.

“It signals that there was genuine interest in the position/company, and should the initial hire back out or fail some type of screening, there might be an immediate opportunity for reconsideration of employment.” Even if that doesn’t happen, the interviewer might be impressed enough by your action to keep your résumé at his fingertips for future reference.

Never give up
Remember, never give up. Show resilience and bounce right back to the career search process. I recommend that even if you believe you aced an interview or are a shoo-in, still keep searching, applying and interviewing. If you get a rejection call and have no next steps ready in your search, it is mentally very hard to get started again. Instead, ask for feedback and move on. If you spend too long dwelling on past, someone else will beat you to that next great opportunity.