Being passed over for a job opportunity can lead to some crappy feelings. I think most of us have been there. Thoughts of “What made me not good enough?” or “I really needed the extra money” inevitably pop in our minds. It. Stinks.

Personally, I have quite a bit of experience in being rejected for positions. Over the past year and three months, I’ve applied for—and was rejected for—no less than four different positions. Three of these were in my current company and one was outside my company.

I was, in fact, recently promoted to the fifth position I applied for in the past year and three months. I attribute that success to a number of things that I did after not being successful in getting a new position the other four times.

Here are eight things for you to do if you are not selected for a role.

Stay Positive

First up…DON’T PANIC!

If you are not selected for the job, keep a positive attitude.

There are a lot of reasons why you may not have gotten selected for the position you applied for, including factors completely outside of your control. Even something as simple as timing can play an important part of whether you get the job or not.

Not being selected for the role does not mean that you’re a failure or something is wrong with you. It simply means that there is a better role out there for you. We all have shortcomings and things that we need to work on so there should be no shame.

Keep a great attitude and the rest will come much easier.

Ask for Feedback

Just because you are keeping a positive attitude doesn’t mean that you won’t have anything to improve on. Asking for feedback will give you some great insight into why you didn’t get the job.

In fact, I go so far as to ask for feedback even when I am selected for a role because it can still help out with future interviews.

Some examples of feedback that I’ve been given are things like not having enough specific examples to questions, not knowing enough about the role I was applying for, and more generic feedback like being slightly edged out by the selected candidate.

You may even be overqualified for the role. I was told once they didn’t think I was right for the role because of concerns about how long it would hold my interest combined with a suggestion to go for a manager role somewhere. Talk about a double-edged sword!

With feedback in hand, you can change it up for next time. It’s a great way to get some actionable steps that you can take to better your chances with your next application.

Reflect on the Feedback

This is where some of the action starts after receiving the feedback. Reflect on it.

Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may not know your interviewers. Not all of their feedback will be spot on.

You’ll want to sift through the feedback and figure out exactly what you need to change.

For example, say you receive feedback that one of your examples to a question was too vague or didn’t speak well to you being able to do the job. You’ll have to figure out if that means you need some training or if you just need to reframe the answer a little bit to shed more light on your skills.

You can also confide in a good friend about the feedback as well. A simple statement of “Hey, I got this feedback on my interview. Since you know me so well, I’d love your take on it.” can go a long way in helping you determine how to act on your feedback.

Act on the Feedback

It’s time for some real action!

Take the feedback you’ve received and reflected on and better yourself. If you need more experience for a coding position, take some online courses or find an internship. Shadow someone in your desired industry to learn more about the roles.

You can even do some roleplaying with a friend or current manager to help get coaching to questions.

Improve you and you’ll improve your chances of getting the next role. And learning about a role or industry you’re looking at may even show you that it’s not the right industry for you.

Continue Applying for Other Roles

Part of the reason why it stings so much when you are rejected for a role is because of all of the time and effort it takes into preparing for the interview. I totally get that.

But just because you didn’t get this role doesn’t mean you should stop applying for positions.

It’s ok to take a bit of time to reflect on the experience and commit to memory what you’ve learned, but you won’t learn to ride a horse if you don’t get back on the saddle. 

You can even do things to help inform you of what roles you can apply for, such as getting your finances in order. It’s crazy to think that how you manage your finances can impact your career, but it’s absolutely true.

This will give you greater flexibility in applying.

The point is to not let this one speed bump keep you from moving forward. Explore and find other roles you like and continue to go for it.

Continue Your Education

I wanted to break this out from acting on the feedback above because it serves other purposes as well.

Furthering your education will do the obvious things like make you more marketable and help you figure out what exactly you want to do. Do you want to know what else it does?

It helps you stay engaged.

That’s right. Continuing to learn will help you stay engaged not only with looking for new jobs but also with your current role. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. Learning gives you both small wins and big wins.

Staying engaged will give you the energy you need to help you stay positive and go after what you want.

Education can look like anything from going back to college all the way down to learning to code through playing around and watching YouTube videos. The sky is the limit these days with the internet.

Follow Up in a Few Weeks

Don’t let your email thanking the interviewers for their time be the last communication you send. Wait a few weeks after you hear the news and follow up to thank them again.

In your email, thank them again for the opportunity to interview while at the same time acknowledging the fact that they went with a different candidate. This is also a great time to ask the company to keep you in mind for future roles.

The purpose of this email is two-fold. First, it continues to build the relationship you started building within the interview. Second, you will also have a better chance of being kept top-of-mind when you do apply for another position at the company.

Following up after a few weeks of them breaking the bad news to you is a sign that you are committed and will go the extra mile for any potential future position.

Continue to Follow the Company

If the company you applied to—and didn’t get hired to—is a place that you really want to work, continue to follow the company. Apply for other jobs you may find interesting or think you’d be a good fit for.

There’s a good chance your interviewers will recognize you the second time around, especially if it’s in the same department.

And remember that thing about timing? Next time around might be the perfect time.

Check the companies career page regularly. Connect with your interviewers on LinkedIn and see what sort of postings are on there. You never know what can happen when you stay connected.

Final Thoughts

Not getting selected for a job, especially if you really need it, can feel like the end of the world. I’ve been there before, too.

Do the eight things above while you’re waiting for your moment. Stay positive and continue to do the work and it will pay off.

I promise. 🙂

What job opportunities have passed by you? How did you handle it?

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