You Didn't Get The Job. Now What?

When I returned from Iraq, It took me quite some time to find employment. When applying for jobs, I kept a journal and researched every company I applied to. I wanted to be prepared in the event I got a call for an interview. And when I did get the call, I was ready. I knew the company inside and out with what I could find via public information. I dusted off my old interviewing skills, gave the interviewers all I had, sent my personalized thank you note and then I waited.

We’ve all been there- that weird space between the time you’ve interviewed for a job and the time you are waiting to find out if you were selected. You replay every second of the interview back in your mind. Wishing you could have said this or that, anxiously sitting on pins and needles until you know the outcome.  And even though you know there is a 50/50 chance that the answer is no, there is some comfort in knowing. You tell your friends how the interviewers laughed at your jokes, said you were one of the top candidates and that you would hear back very soon.

And then it comes.

“Dear Cari,
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. At this time, we have decided to pursue candidates who more closely align with our needs. Please continue to visit our career page for future opportunities”.

You feel like you’ve been stung by 1,000 bees at once. Trust me. I know the feeling all too well. Becoming too familiar with this bee-sting has taught me a few things that I’d like to share with you:

Don’t waste time waiting

The space between leaving an interview and waiting to learn whether you were the selected candidate is not to be wasted. During the time, you should still be pursuing other opportunities, having exploratory conversations, applying for more jobs and tapping into your network. The sting of not getting the job can hurt 100 times more when you have solely focused your efforts on one employer. It’s not over ‘til it’s over and your job search shouldn’t end or be paused because you’ve been selected for an interview. This will not make you feel any less hurt about the missed opportunity; however, knowing that you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket should re-energize you.

Lose the “I could have done better” Syndrome

Analyzing every little thing you could have done better will drive you crazy.

It is very possible that you did a great job in the interview. You obviously had the credentials to have made it that far. Sometimes the decisions to select or not select a candidate have absolutely nothing to do with you or how well you performed in the process. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t spend some time reflecting on ways that you could possibly improve (let’s face it, there is always room for improvement). What I am saying is not too live here. Analyzing every little thing you could have done better will drive you crazy. It is very possible that there could have been someone who really did have more experience than you or who was more of a culture fit than you. Shocking right? But it’s true. Charge it to the job hunting game and move on to the next opportunity

Instead of thinking of this situation as a job loss, I consider it a connection gained. 

Remain in Touch

After you’ve learned that you were not selected for a role, don’t just fall off the planet. No, this may not be your future boss anymore; however, here is an opportunity to capitalize on expanding your network. Things change with companies very quickly and you never know when a future opportunity may come your way. Instead of thinking of this situation as a job loss, I consider it a connection gained. 

Bonus: While it would be great if employers always provided detailed explanations why you were not selected- Expect nothing. I know how frustrating it can be when you are not told or you are provided with a generic response. Don’t let this lack of feedback paralyze you and continue pursuing your job searching activities. There are tons of resources that will provide you with objective feedback if you feel it’s needed.

Before I Go: Is this the first time we’ve met? If so, thanks for reading this article and I’d love to connect! I’m Cari Hawthorne, an Army veteran and HR professional who enjoys everything about helping others with their careers. How do you deal when you don’t land the dream job? How do you bounce back? I’d love to hear from you.

Cari Hawthorne