What to do when you don’t get the job

Illustration of a rejected job applicant, crying a tear.

Artwork  by Jane Kelly.  © Used by permission

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Being rejected for a job is one of the worst experiences anybody could ever go through. After spending hours making a resume and cover letter, researching to ace the interview, and crafting well-thought out responses – still, they turned you down.

It can leave you demoralized and depressed. It can even make you rethink your decision of moving to a new country.

Before you start packing your bags, step back and take a beat. Remember that it is not the only job out there. Plus, you can turn this negative experience into a learning opportunity. Here’s how:

Keep calm and make an assessment

It’s ok to be disappointed and hurt, even angry. Allow yourself to have all these feelings and then gradually calm down. Assess the situation when you’re thinking clearer.

Think back: Was there a specific skill or job experience that they were looking for that you don’t have? Was there a question that you did not understand and did not answer well? Was there anything that you could have done or said better? Note them down. Evaluating your performance honestly will help you improve. It will make you a stronger candidate when the next opportunity comes.

Also remember that there is a lot that goes into the hiring process. Sometimes it’s not about you or how you performed during the interview. The company may have made the decision to promote someone internally, or perhaps some of their requirements changed. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback after a rejection is perfectly acceptable in Canada. A good opportunity to do this is when you respond to the company’s rejection email.

First, thank them for informing you. Also thank them for their time and consideration. Say that you acknowledge their decision and mention that you are interested in being considered for possible openings in the future. Finally, give them the option of providing feedback. Say something like, “I would appreciate it if you could provide me some feedback. I would love the opportunity to make myself a stronger candidate in the future”. Keep your letter brief and to the point. To see a good sample letter, go to: The letter to write when you don’t get the job by Lisa Vaas.

If they did not send an email but called, ask for feedback during the call. You can say: “If you have the time, would you mind giving me some feedback so I can be a better candidate next time?” (if they are busy, respectfully ask for an appointment). However, if the person on the line was not the interviewer, they may not be able to provide feedback. You can send a separate email to the person who interviewed you. You can include the request in your thank you email.

Keep an open mind when they give you their critique. Yes, it will hurt and you may disagree with some of the points, but stay objective. Don’t forget to thank the recruiter for honouring your request. Not all employers will take the time to provide good feedback.

Use the feedback to your advantage the next time you apply for a position. Think of new strategies to boost your chances of getting hired, based on the points mentioned by the recruiter.

Make a connection

Another result of acquiring feedback is the possibility of establishing a good connection with the recruiter. You may be able to impress them with your objectivity, as well as humility and professionalism. When you become a memorable connection, guess who they’ll call when a job opening becomes available?
Article updated December 7, 2022.
Sources: Job rejections: Should you ask for feedback? Jaime Petkanics, The Prepary; Get interview feedback, Ian Christie, Monster.com.

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Community Resources

Read 7 tips for writing great emails to help you craft your messages.

A professional career counsellor can guide you in navigating all the aspects of job application, and counsel you to help you stay employed. Manitoba Start can help. You can also consult your nearest Immigrant Settlement Service Provider for employment assistance.

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What to do when you don’t get the job

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