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3/1/2020 - What to do when you don’t get the job

by Andrew Seaman 

You’ve likely encountered disappointment at some point during your job search. Rejection is implied in most cases when you don’t hear back from an employer after submitting your application. Other times, you’ll get turned down after a few rounds of interviews.

The sting of rejection can make plotting a path forward difficult for some job seekers. Do you keep pursuing that company as an employer? Do you try to follow-up with the hiring manager or recruiter? Or, do you cut your losses and move on?

Before we get to those questions, we should talk about the importance of a healthy mindset during your job search. It’s a topic we touched on last year, but it’s especially important if your job search is at risk of being derailed by rejection.

Don’t fall in love

“I think a lot of people set themselves up for disappointment by falling in love with a particular job and telling people about it,” said Biron Clark, founder of Career Sidekick and a former recruiter. He’s written about this topic before.

Instead of focusing on one job, you should keep applying to other employers and scheduling interviews until you’ve accepted a position. Rejection stings less when you have other opportunities on the horizon, said Clark, who is also among the 2019 class of LinkedIn Top Voices in Job Search & Careers.

“Have an abundance mindset and not a scarcity mindset,” he told me. “Realize there are other jobs out there.”

Rejection may not be your fault

You should also keep in mind that being passed over for a job does not mean you lack the qualifications or skills to succeed in that position. Instead, you might have been eliminated from consideration based on an endless number of variables, said Clark. The salary you asked for may have been too high for the hiring manager, for example. Or, they may have already had a candidate in mind for the job.

“There is just so much luck and randomness that goes into it,” he said. “There are things you’ll never know or see behind the scenes. So, don’t beat yourself up about it.”

What to do once you get rejected

Once you find out that you’ve been eliminated from consideration for a job, you have a few options. Clark said it’s not usually worth your time to try to change the employer’s mind.

“I think there’s no harm in trying to get feedback,” he said. “It’s worth asking if there are things that you could have done differently.” If the recruiter or hiring manager is reluctant to give you that feedback, you can explain that it will help you as you progress in your job search.

If they offer feedback voluntarily, be sure to listen to what the hiring manager or recruiter has to say. Clark calls that constructive feedback “gold” — especially if they’re a recruiter from an agency. “They typically only get paid if they place you in a job,” he said. “It’s in their best interest to pass constructive feedback along.”

Fortunately, the doors to companies don’t often slam shut after rejections. In many cases, it doesn’t hurt to reapply after three to six months, said Clark. Also, you can keep a relationship open with a recruiter or hiring manager by asking to connect with them on LinkedIn and telling them to let you know if other positions open up in the future, he added.

Don’t be afraid to take a day off

Rejections can still sting quite a bit regardless of your mindset and how many other applications you have out in the world. If an email or a phone call that says you’ve been eliminated from consideration hits you hard, Clark said it’s OK to take the day to mentally reset yourself.

Pushing yourself after a particularly crushing rejection could harm the quality of your work and end up hurting your odds of landing another job.

“You’re not throwing a day away," he said. "You’re going to come back energized.”