The job posting appeared like a diamond along a stretch of lonely beach. You re-read it several times in near disbelief. Your experience and skill set seemed an ideal fit. The resume and cover letter you submitted was polished and tailored to the posting. The company replied quickly; they wanted to meet you.
After prepping and practicing, the actual interview was a breeze. Despite your superstitions or better judgements, you couldn’t help gushing. You were certain the position was yours. Be honest. That’s when you took your foot off the gas of your job search, isn’t it? Then, weeks later, the company let you know they’d gone with a different candidate. You’re crushed, deflated. When someone tells me I was rejected for a job I was perfect for, I know that they’re dealing with a painful loss. But I also realize they can use the momentary setback to prepare for a new opportunity. Here’s how.
Recreate the Interview
Stress can boost your short-term memory. Use it to your advantage. Write down everything you can remember about the interview. Were there questions you didn’t answer completely? Skills you lacked? Anything that stands out can help you improve. However, don’t obsess over the negatives, consider the positives as well. What did you do well in the interview? When you told them about yourself or your last position, did you shine? It can be tough to be objective after being gut punched, but try to remember what felt right.
Grieve and Vent
Losing out on what seems like the ideal opportunity is a lot like having someone break up with you before you were even dating. Hopefully you have a friend or family member that isn’t likely to become a colleague someday. Allow yourself to be emotional –- sad, angry, whatever it takes. After explaining you were rejected for a job I was perfect for, maybe you enjoy a dinner out or just ice cream and a romcom. Give yourself a little time to get over it.
A day or two after the rejection, send an email thanking the interviewer for their consideration. It’s okay to mention how much you’d love working for the company. After all, there’s a chance you’ll get called in again for a different position. Generally speaking it’s not a good idea to ask why you didn’t get the job –– and they probably won’t tell you anyway. However, there’s nothing wrong with asking if there are any skills in particular you should be developing. Be prepared to listen to their feedback. If they are willing to take the time to offer you information, then it should be valued.
Reach Out to Your Network
If you used connections to get an interview or improve your chances, make sure to get back in touch with them. Thank anyone who helped but also ask for any information they might have. For all you know, the person they hired could have French fluency or coding experience or one thousand other things that aren’t easy to learn quickly. However, if there is something you can do to improve your resume, do so.
Keep in mind that in 2015, careers site Glassdoor reported that every corporate job posted attracted at least 250 resumes. As the U.S. slowly moved from the COVID-19-created recession, that number has greatly increased. Chances are, every posting has a bunch of “perfect” candidates –– people with matched skill sets and experiences.
Polish your resume. Consider hiring a coach or a writing service. Join a new job site or meet with a temp firm. Do something. Don’t get sidetracked from your goal. The cliche about being thrown from a horse applies –- the longer you take to get back in the job search saddle, the harder it will be. So practice your interview skills and start submitting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed employment. Because so many workers are now remote, it’s worth expanding your job search beyond your state or even your country. The truth is, no job is actually perfect and imperfect opportunities often turn into careers. The only way to discover them is to keep trying.