So you didn’t get the job, what now?

In our last blog post, ‘Five ways to greatly increase your chances of getting a new job’, we gave you some top tips to help with your job search. This post is about what to do if you don’t get the job. Or more specifically, what NOT to do.

When you’ve put in the effort to find an opportunity, conduct extensive research, attend the interviews and made the decision that this is the role for you, it’s very disappointing if you don’t ultimately get the job. How you act after being given the bad news though is critically important for your future chances of ever getting to meet that employer again. Not only that specific employer, but other potential employers as well. Recruitment professionals change jobs and move to other companies. They also come into contact with lots of other recruiters. Additionally, part of their job is to deal with references. It doesn’t take a huge leap to realise that you need to be professional at ALL stages of the recruitment process, and this includes after the process has finished.

The moment of truth

Imagine the scene. You’ve been waiting a week to hear whether you’ve got the job or not, your friends and family know about it, the tension has been building. The phone rings, you take the call; it’s bad news. You didn’t get the job. How do you react? Probably with disappointment which is understandable. It’s what you say and do next that can really make or break your credibility.

Telling someone they haven’t got the job is not a nice thing to have to do, but it is part of a recruiter’s role. I have finished some conversations with a new found respect for candidates in this situation, and I’ve also mentally decided that I would never again deal with some others. Any decision has been thought out thoroughly, most probably by a number of people, so it isn’t a good idea to tell the recruiter that they are making a mistake, or worse, react with anger or rudeness.

Pen and pad at the ready

You should receive feedback from the employer or the recruitment consultant if you applied through an agency. This should be proper, constructive feedback on why you weren’t successful. You need to write this feedback down, as the phone call and its contents will be a blur afterwards. Ask questions to establish any facts you are not clear on. How did you rate against the person who got the job? What could you have done differently? What areas can you work on to improve your chances in your other interviews? Where there any areas of concern in your background? This phone call is a fantastic opportunity to learn from someone who sees thousands of CVs a year and conducts hundreds of interviews; use it wisely. At the end of the call, thank the person for their time and honesty.

Another key reason for taking a positive approach is that sometimes the new hire doesn’t work out. It happens, and if it does, who do you think the recruiter will call? The person who was polite, who understood the decision and thanked them for their time, or the person who sounded frustrated, angry or aggressively told them they were making a mistake? You know the answer to that question.

There are several other things you could do that you really shouldn’t:

Vent on social media

It is so easy to pick up your phone and tweet your frustration, or put an update on Facebook detailing why the company is making a big mistake. Don’t do it. Once you put something out there, it’s there forever, even if you delete it. You might feel momentarily better, but what happens when your tweet surfaces in front of a recruiter at your next opportunity? Potential employers use your social media presence to assess your suitability. You have to keep this in mind at all times and act professionally. Keep your phone in your pocket and move on.

Apply for the role again through a recruitment agency

Whilst recruitment consultants can make a huge difference to your application, they cannot generally reverse a decision that has already been made. A number of years ago I enthusiastically submitted a candidate for a role only to find that the candidate had already been through the process with that company unsuccessfully. Despite questioning the candidate about the role and the company, assurances were given that this company had not been approached. It causes a lot of issues for all concerned when this happens, and nobody wins, especially not the candidate. Now this could have been an act of desperation on the part of the candidate, or perhaps the person had simply forgotten that they had applied, which goes back to our previous post about keeping a record of all applications. Either way, credibility is lost and it’s unlikely that a future application would be welcomed.

Send in a detailed letter rebuffing the feedback

Whilst you may think that you’re the best person for the role, you have to trust that the company knows what it is doing and has made the best decision for its needs. I have seen candidates put together detailed letters or emails listing the reasons why a miscarriage of justice has occurred, then sending these to the recruiter, the hiring manager or worse the managing director of the company. Even if you think your arguments are valid, taking this approach can only worsen your chances with future opportunities. Even if eloquently put, your letter is still basically saying that the person you are writing to does not know their job, which is never going to be well received. Accept the decision and concentrate your energy on your next opportunity.

Give up

The worst thing you can possibly do is to become disheartened with your job search. It takes sustained effort to get the job you really want and to move forward in your career. Don’t let a knockback dictate the outcome of your efforts. It’s normally just at the point where you feel most demotivated that things start to happen. Don’t quit with the end in sight, keep going and you will get there. The more opportunities you pursue, the quicker you will land a new role. What’s more, you’ll learn loads from the disappointments and rejections which will help you to secure future roles.

To summarise

Losing out on a job is never going to be nice, but you can take the experience and learn from it, or you can let it affect you negatively. Always trust that the company you have applied to knows what it is doing and has made a balanced decision. Write down the feedback you receive, clarify any points you are unsure of, review the feedback and act upon it. Make changes to your CV, tailor your responses to interview questions, or even take a course to fill in a gap in your experience or knowledge. Definitely do not take to social media to rail against the perceived injustice, don’t try to get in through the back door by using a recruiter, don’t write a 50 point list as to why you should have got the job, and most importantly, never, ever give up. Keep going, tweak your approach and you will land the job that is right for you. Please comment below and share your experiences.

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