Getting rejected for a job hurts. Just like striking out in a baseball game or never getting a phone call back after a great date. Even if no one knows you’ve been rejected, it can feel like a first degree burn that doesn’t blister but still feels painful. It’s hard to forget that it’s there.
There are many schools of thought on how to handle a rejection from a job. Some career counselors say to turn your disappointment into fuel — and apply for a job with a competitor of the organization that turned you down. Others say to keep moving, and immediately apply for other jobs in different companies.
I recommend a different strategy: Follow up with the organization that turned you down before you move on.
This may sound counter-intuitive but here are three reasons how it can help your career:
1. If you ask for feedback and receive a response, it can help you move on.
Not getting an offer isn’t fun, but knowing why you did not get the job can be helpful.
Even if you are perfectly qualified for the job on paper, there could be a number of reasons why you didn’t get the offer.
- Perhaps the company has a company initiative to hire current employees in order to minimize hiring cuts in another department so they hired a current employee into the job.
- Perhaps the job description changed — after the interview.
- Perhaps they company really liked you but thought you’d be a better fit — in a different job.
Knowing the truth can bring you peace of mind and/or position your skills better next time!
2. Following up can help employers better understand you.
Let’s say you interviewed for a job for which you were over-qualified.
Many employers reject candidates on this very basis alone, “She’d be bored stiff. Why would she want this job?”
Responding to a rejection note and saying “I’m disappointed, particularly as this job would have enabled me to learn _______” can counteract this assumption. Note: I’ve actually seen this approach turn one job seeker’s rejection into a job offer within 48 hours!
3. A personal contact can cultivate a relationship. Relationships can help get you hired.
When you apply for a job working with people you don’t know, you are one in a stack of names.
When you follow up with a personal e-mail or voice mail, you can demonstrate initiative — and showcase your interpersonal skills. In that instant, you may be transformed — from a name on paper to a potential hire.
Saying “I am disappointed but remain interested in working at your company in the future” shows your perseverance and ability to handle feedback — all skills sought after by employers from non-profits to Fortune 50 companies.”
In sum, following up and asking for feedback after you’ve been rejected can help you better understand why you weren’t hired and stand out as an applicant for future positions. You have a lot to gain. What do you have to lose?