Friday afternoon I had to make my least favorite type of phone call as a recruiter, yet one of the most necessary types of calls. I had to tell a candidate that he didn’t get the job. This wasn’t just any candidate. He is an individual I have worked with for almost 10 years now; a person whose career has progressed rapidly because of his efforts and stellar performance. I felt he was perfect for the job, and so did he.
The interview process was not unusually long or cumbersome. It progressed rather rapidly, and the decision was prompt and straightforward. There were no games, and the client kept an open and continuous dialogue throughout the process. Nevertheless, the answer was still “No – we are going with candidate B”.
As a result, I may be as disappointed as he is in the outcome.
The job search itself can be emotionally challenging, and it is very difficult to stay positive during the interview process, even before you get to the final stages. How do you recover when you find out you didn’t get the job?
Recovering is Similar to any Grieving Process
Recovering when you lost out on your ideal job is similar to grieving – it follows a process. Unfortunately, there is nothing positive about this process. It is an emotional punch in the gut to an already vulnerable psyche, so it is important to follow some of the recommended steps to move forward with your job search, and your life.
Allow Yourself to Vent Your Frustrations
Getting your feelings off your chest is a necessary part of the process. Depending on your personality type, you may find more satisfaction talking it through, or writing it down. Communicate everything you liked about the company, the culture, the job itself, as well as what your hesitations were. Expand upon exactly what frustrates you about the rejection. Is it the feeling of loss, or is it the job itself? Working it through in your head, through conversation, or on paper is therapeutic and extremely helpful. It may not take the sting of the loss away, but you will feel better once you communicate your initial feelings.
Lean on Your Support System
Having a support system during the job search process is extremely important for many reasons. This may consist of your immediate or extended family, a job search group, members of your church, friend, or co-workers. They can be great sources for getting you leads, providing interview advice, and emotional support. They can be even more important when it comes to providing support for a rejection. They can provide a listening ear, some positive insight, and even constructive feedback in some cases. Even though talking about a negative occurrence in your job search may be a bit embarrassing, your support system is there to help you work through the good and the bad, and wants the best for you.
Ask for Feedback
Receiving constructive feedback can be tough to swallow, but learning some of the details that separated the other candidate from you can provide you with valuable information going forward – if a company is willing to provide it. Do not be surprised, however, if a company is not willing to provide all of the reasons they didn’t choose you. Many employers are very cautious about communicating information that could be perceived as negative or discriminatory, especially in a lawsuit-happy culture. If you receive feedback, be sure to take it with an open mind, and not as an attack on your self-esteem and reason to be down on yourself. What may not work for one company may be exactly what another company is looking for!
Reflect Upon Improvements You Could Make
Similar to the feedback segment, this is not an open invitation for self-destruction. Perhaps you didn’t answer an interview question as fully as you could have. Perhaps the example you provided wasn’t what the interviewer was looking for. Take some time for introspection and figure out what you have learned from this experience, and how you can improve yourself on your next interview.
Thank the Company for the Opportunity
Even though you feel wounded and possibly angry, take a few minutes to send a note (email or hand-written) to the company and thank them for the opportunity. After all, you made it to the final round, so there were qualities about you they felt were worthwhile. You may never know the circumstances surrounding why you didn’t get the job, so there is no need to burn bridges. As a matter of fact, they may have something else within the company that may work for you. The person they offered the job to may have a last-minute change of heart, and they may end up calling you! Having a positive attitude and an interest in maintaining a relationship with the company or hiring manager may evolve into a future position, or positive professional relationship in your industry.
You WILL Find Another Job
It may not seem like it at the time, but the disappointment of not landing a job will pass. Continue to keep your daily job search efforts up, and other opportunities will arise. You may even find that the job offer you DO receive will be better for you than the one you lost out on! It may not have been available at the time, but arrives at just the right time for you.
Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, and The Resilient Recruiter and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.
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