As hard as you have tried and as good as you are, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. You don’t get that job offer you wanted and worked so hard to get. And, it’s not the first time you haven’t gotten the job.
A million variables are involved in filling a job, from the economy to the personalities (“chemistry”) and the mood or the background or the presence of certain decision makers critical to the process. Perhaps your resume was received too late for consideration or wasn’t seen because it got caught in an email spam filter or didn’t have exactly the right keywords in it for the ATS search. Maybe in the interview you seemed too pushy to one of them, or not pushy enough or too quiet or too smart or too casual or too…
Strangely enough, often – perhaps even MOST of the time – the reason you don’t get the offer has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. The timing just wasn’t right for you, this time.
So, What Should You Do?
If a job you really wanted “got away,” there are some things you can do to recover, possibly, and to move on.
1. Try to find out what happened.
If someone in the employer’s organization contacts you to let you know that you aren’t getting the job, follow up quickly! Politely ask for more information of anyone on the employer’s side who seemed to be friendly and supportive.
If there is a reason they specifically did not hire you, knowing that reason could save you a lot of time and energy in the future. Maybe the reason means you would not want to work there (ethics, race, religion, etc.). Or it could mean that you can improve your job search performance for the next time and the next employer.
- Did they cancel the job?
- Did they offer the job to someone else?
- Did they change their minds about hiring anyone right now?
- Was there something about you and your approach to them that could be improved? Could they provide you with any constructive feedback?
Do not expect – or TRY – to change the decision! You simply want to know what happened and, if possible, to learn something about your approach to them that could have been improved. Be grateful for whatever feedback they share, and do NOT argue with them about their decision.
Don’t be surprised if fear of lawsuits or fear of awkward discussions prevents everyone from telling you what happened, but it is worth a try to find out. Since they have already decided not to hire you, you don’t have anything to lose. And you could have a lot to gain!
2. Send a “thank you” note.
If you really liked the organization and the people you interviewed with and you would love to work for them, send them a thank you note when you find out that you didn’t get the job. It can lay the groundwork for a job offer if they re-open the job or if the person they hired doesn’t work out. It can also put you first in line for the next job opening they have.
3. Get help with your job search.
A solitary job search is a lonely, confidence-killing experience. Find a local job search support group to help you with your job search – check your local state Career OneStop Center, public library, senior center (regardless of your age), city hall, college or university career center or alumni group. Also check out MeetUp.com and LinkedIn.com’s Groups for help.
These groups help expand your network - “Anybody know someone who works for [Target Company Name]?” They also can provide extra sets of eyes to check out your resume, LinkedIn Profile, Twitter Bio, etc. And extra sets of ears to be listening for good job leads for you. In addition, you’ll be able to help others with their job search, networking, and job search documents. People often connect with life-long friends attending these group meetings, and just knowing that you are not the only person who isn’t immediately snapped up by an eager employer is good for morale. Seeing other intelligent, well-qualified people who are also in a long job search can be encouraging.
I’ll never forget leaving the weekly meeting of a local job search support group a few years ago with a very smart and accomplished young financial professional. As we were walking down the steps, she said to me, “I’ve been doing everything wrong for a year! I wish I had come to this group from the beginning!” Don’t make that mistake.
4. Consider part-time and temporary work.
A part-time job can be a good way to keep some money coming in and can also expose you to more opportunities. They keep your skills more up-to-date and can provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills. These jobs also provide “cover” for you with employers who are leery of hiring someone who is unemployed. And, sometimes, part-time or short-term jobs turn in to full-time jobs.
Don’t Give Up
I spoke last week with a job seeker who had been unemployed for 4 years, and finally connected with a great job for him. He wasted the first year of his job search by not focusing his search and being too isolated. But, then he connected with a local job search support group, which he attended regularly to stay motivated and connected with his goals. He also kept volunteering, taking part-time jobs, taking short-term jobs, taking classes, keeping his skills up-to-date, and building his network. Four years is a long time to go without a “permanent” job, but he made it.
© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
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About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.