Hearing a “no” after you’ve applied to an exciting opportunity isn’t what you or anyone wants to hear. It’s something that many people, if not everyone, goes through while building their career but it’s not easy – I know this kind of disappointment well and have experienced it recently. When it happens, I try to remind myself that the doors aren’t necessarily closed at these companies, that there are more exciting opportunities ahead and timing is everything. We’re only human and these rejections affect us after putting so much energy and excitement into resumes, so it can be a bit of a blow to the ego, but hope isn’t lost! Here are a few things you can do after being passed over for a job that will set you up for future success and keep yourself moving forward.
1 – Follow Up
After the company emails you telling you that they’ve moved forward with other candidates, be sure to follow up with them as well. If they’ve emailed you quickly after your initial follow-up, you can email back first thanking them for the quick response, for their time, and let them know you’re excited to hear about future opportunities.
I typically let them know that I’m looking forward to following along the company’s journey and that I’ll keep my eyes on future opportunities. This lets the company know that you truly are invested in them and that you’re excited about their future (and yours.)
2 – Stay Connected with the Company and Hiring Managers
You’ve heard us say this in other articles, but networking and building relationships really can help you land roles that are right for you. Just because you didn’t get the job you applied for, doesn’t mean they didn’t like what they saw or that they wouldn’t consider you for another role.
You never know what new opportunities might arise and you’ll want to have great rapport with them in the future. You can stay connected by connecting with the hiring manager or team members on LinkedIn and following them on Twitter and Instagram (where appropriate). For some of the companies I’ve been specifically applying for, I continue to engage with some individuals on Instagram and LinkedIn so that when I apply for a job in the future, my name is recognizable. By staying connected, you might even get an earlier heads up about job opportunities, and have an in that others might not have.
3 – Determine the Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job
When you email the company back thanking them for their time and expressing your excitement over future opportunities, don’t be shy about asking why you weren’t a successful candidate. The people directly hiring can give great insight on how to approach your application in the future if they respond.
In my recent experiences, they’ve told me directly in their emails without me asking. For example, for one of the jobs, they went with someone who had a specific job experience I didn’t. If they don’t end up telling you much, you can probably go through your application and figure out what some of the gaps might have been (you may have even known these from the beginning.)
Take both their feedback and your reflection and turn that list into action items for yourself. What can you do to work on those skills? Whether that be developing them or improving them, there’s always ways to level up. Maybe that means taking a course online, creating a project, watching YouTube videos, reading books, etc. By learning new things, you’ll improve your confidence and knowledge in these areas and be able to highlight what you’ve done the next time around!
4 – Keep Your Spirits High
It can be easy to feel discouraged after getting a rejection and you might think, “maybe this career path isn’t for me,” or that you just aren’t good enough and you should settle for something less, but that’s truly not the case. You can take the experience and reflect on it. Whether you actually do want to go down that career path or pursue something else, trust yourself and the process (and know that we believe in you).
Use those no’s as motivation and let it fuel you to be even more determined to go after your dream jobs. The right job will come along and every bump along the way are just learning curves to make you an even better candidate. If you’ve lost a bit of confidence, try to reflect on the things you love doing the most and feel most confident in, recall positive things that others have said about you, or ask colleagues/friends/family what they think you are great at. Sometimes for me, I just need a little reminder and encouragement in the areas that I know I’m skilled at.
5 – Try To Find Ways to Make Your Current Job & Situation Better
There are many reasons why you might be applying for any given job – whether your just getting started in your career, you don’t like your current job, you’re ready for the next step, or you’re taking a chance on yourself and chasing your dreams. Depending on your why getting that “no” might be disheartening, but if you can find ways to make your current situation a bit more enjoyable, you might start to get clearer on your vision.
If you’re currently just at the beginning of your career and you’re just itching to get started, how can you get started on your own terms, or get clearer on your vision? Can you start your own side hustle? Create a portfolio? Apply for internships? Reach out to your LinkedIn network? Carve time for personal development and dive deep into your dreams and goals. If you’re wanting to leave your current job, are there ways you can make it work until you land your next role? By managing to stay satisfied in your current job, you’ll have more energy to work towards your next steps.
Even though you’ve heard a “no” from what may have been a dream job or company right now, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen for you. There is always time to learn, grow, and keep working towards your dream and we know that you’ll land the perfect role! Style Nine to Five is here to support you along the way and help you in all the ways you need.
Looking to dive deeper into your next career steps? Book a Virtual Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr, to determine what to focus on next to get you your dream job.
By Jenna Yeomans – Jenna is a freelance community manager and writer in Hamilton, ON with a passion for storytelling, creativity and supporting small businesses.