It’s inevitable. At some point in your quest to land the perfect job, you’re going to face rejection. Sometimes you knew the job was a reach. You knew for sure that you were lacking a certain qualification. You knew you fumbled an important technical question during the interview.
But other times, you think you nailed it. You were cool and confident during each round of interviews. So what happened?
First, know that it’s perfectly acceptable to send a letter of inquiry to the company asking why you didn’t get the job. Sure, you’d rather cry and forget you ever heard of that stupid company, but this is wasting an opportunity. Instead, be mature. Show the company or the hiring manager that you’re looking to improve, that you’re passionate about your career. In fact, because it’s a rare practice, sending such a letter will stand out to them, and your name might be the first to come up the next time they have an opening.
But be prepared to have thick skin when you receive a response. Unlike your friends, family, and current colleagues, this hiring manager has nothing to lose by offering you the brutal truth. Remember: it’s constructive criticism and a chance to grow.
You finish other people’s sentences.
Or maybe you don’t make good eye contact. Or you weren’t enthusiastic enough over the phone. It’s hard to believe but you may actually possess some interpersonal flaw that was just the slightest bit unpleasant for someone responsible for making this hire. And so they overlooked you.
It’s a competition among the best.
Yes, you might have been perfectly qualified for this job. But so were nine other people. And one of them went to college with the company owner’s son. And another asked for a lower salary. The truth is you can never fully know the circumstances surrounding the people you were up against.
Sometimes a certain position isn’t quite right for you. Perhaps the company is a great fit, with growth opportunities and a benefit package you’ve only dreamed of. If the hiring managers recognize this, they may have filled this particular position with someone else and are saving your resume for a different position expected to open up later. It might even be a more prestigious position with a more lucrative salary, which is why it’s a great idea to send that rejection letter and keep the lines of communication open.
You might lack the experience they were looking for. Sure, you’re a prodigy with a great start down an amazing career path. But they’re looking for someone with a few more notches under his belt and recommend you stay another year or so in your current position.
Don’t get discouraged when the rejection hits. It happens to everyone, and though it’s tempting to sulk, it’s more productive to seize the opportunity and learn from the process.