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 in the world. You’ve done your homework, crafted a polished resume and cover letter, and connected well with the interviewers. You even emailed them that charming and well-crafted thank you letter two hours after the interview. And still, they chose somebody else. It’s things like these that make you feel down and think twice about the soundness of your decision to move to a new country.

Before you wallow in self-pity and start packing your bags, pause and take a deep breath. Remember that it is not the only job out there. You can even turn this seemingly negative thing into a great career and learning opportunity. Here is how:

Keep calm and do an assessment

Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. It’s ok to be disappointed and hurt, even angry. But don’t let these negative feelings consume you. Allow yourself to naturally calm down. After a while, when you are thinking clearer, try to assess the situation.

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 feel that you did not answer well? Was there anything that you think you could have done or said better? Evaluating your performance honestly will help you be more aware of how you can improve the next time a job opportunity comes. It will make you a stronger candidate. What you learn with your self-assessment will also make it easier for you to move on.

Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback after a job rejection may not be something that you normally do in your home country, but in Canada, this is perfectly acceptable. Even then, you should remember that you are making a request. Therefore, never demand answers. Always be tactful and respectful.

A good opportunity for this is when you respond to the company’s job rejection email. When you answer, show the employer that you are a professional. First, thank them for informing you. Thank them also for their time and consideration. Express that you acknowledge their decision and mention that you are interested in being considered for possible openings in the future. Finally, you can give them the option of providing you feedback by asking for it in your letter (something like, “I would appreciate it if you have feedback for me. I would love to use it to make myself a stronger candidate in the future.”). Keep your letter brief and to the point. Read The letter to write when you don’t get the job by Lisa Vaas for Ladders.com for a sample letter.

If they did not email you and you were delivered the rejection by phone, you can still ask for verbal feedback. However, if the person on the line was not the recruiter or the interviewer, he or she may not be able to provide valuable insights. So, if you haven’t sent them a “thank you” email after the interview, this is your chance to do it. Send it directly to the recruiter or the person who interviewed you. After expressing your thanks, ask for feedback.

When you are given feedback, take it with an open mind. Yes, it will hurt, and you may disagree with some of the points, but do your best to be objective. Take everything as a learning opportunity. Do not forget to thank the recruiter for obliging your request; not all employers will provide good feedback.

Make a connection

If during the process of acquiring feedback you create a good connection with the recruiter, then extra points for you! You have successfully networked and gained an ally inside the company. Impressing the employer with your maturity and professionalism can help keep you stay on top of their minds when the next job opening comes along.

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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