It feels like a kick in the gut: that polite phone call, or carefully worded job rejection e-mail that announces that you didn’t get the job, but “wishes you the best of luck in your job search.”
After days of wondering “did I get the job?” and constantly checking your voicemail, it’s natural to feel discouraged after a job rejection e-mail or phone call. Inevitably, you’ll start to question yourself. Was there a typo in your cover letter? Did your carefully prepared answers come off as too rehearsed? Should you have went with a traditional pantsuit instead of a trendy blazer?
Here’s the bad news: Those questions can be toxic in the world of job-hunting, where confidence is the key to success. The good news? You can re-frame the fact that you didn’t get the job, and continue on your journey to that coveted offer letter.
So, why didn’t you get the job? Here are the answers you’ve been searching for.
1. You weren’t the best fit.
You heard it here first: the fact that you didn’t get the job isn’t a reflection on your worth as a person. Think of it like a puzzle, and the company is searching for a missing piece to connect with all of the other pieces that are already in place. You could be the most vibrant puzzle piece in the bunch, but if you don’t click into place with the company’s existing framework, you won’t get a job offer. Believe that your skills and passions will fit with another company, even though this company was looking for a different set of abilities. Plus, chances are good that if the hiring manager didn’t foresee a great fit, you might have had a tough time on the job, anyway.
2. You’re being redirected to something better.
There are plenty of stories of job-hunters landing their dream job just after their most painful rejection, but let’s face it: that’s not what you want to hear right now. Getting rejected hurts. It’s never fun to head back to the job ads after days (or weeks!) of wondering, “did I get the job?” Keep reminding yourself that while you haven’t found the right opportunity yet, it’s out there, and might even be the very next job that you apply for. The fact that you are still searching means that you are still free: free to search for and accept an even more fulfilling job than the last one. This rejection experience, while painful, is inevitable preparation for the awesome opportunities that lie ahead of you. Stay open to possibility, and know that it’s just a matter of time (and effort) before the right opportunity comes along.
3. Someone else had an in.
Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to find out if you are truly being considered for a position, or if the hiring manager already had their eye on an internal candidate. It’s possible you didn’t get the job because the job description itself was written with someone else in mind. Internal candidates might seem more attractive to hiring managers even if it isn’t a shoe-in, because internal candidates already know the office dynamic, company mission, and who to call when the e-mail servers go down. Is this fair to you? Absolutely not! But hiring managers are humans with biases, and it’s possible that they don’t want to invest in training a new person from the ground-up. Don’t be discouraged: plenty of companies still count on new talent to infuse energy and life into their businesses.
So you didn’t get the job today: that doesn’t mean that a dream job offer doesn’t await in your future. You’re already steps ahead of many, because you’ve narrowed in on a type of job that you want. This gloomy feeling is proof that you’re on a path of excitement and possibility: it just might take some more time and effort to come to fruition. We live in an age where self-development is easier than ever. Focus on expanding your resume and building your credibility in your industry of interest. Check out free classes online, use LinkedIn to connect with possible contacts, volunteer with a related group, or start a blog to showcase your knowledge. Sometimes, the path to a dream job is a marathon, not a sprint.
5. Seriously though, those HR people were totally wrong.
Admit it: it can feel good to imagine the selected candidate failing miserably on the job, and the hiring manager wistfully remembering your top-notch analytical skills and glowing personality. While it’s not healthy (or nice) to dwell on these thoughts, you should know that hiring managers can be wrong, and sometimes even admit that maybe they made the wrong choice (I’ve witnessed this first-hand on several occasions). Maybe you didn’t get the job: but you should have! There are certain qualities that interviews can’t measure, like a candidate’s likelihood to call in sick while nursing a slight headache or their ability to shut down destructive office gossip. It doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t get the job, but it’s possible that you were truly the best candidate. Guess what: it’s still their loss. You’ll find someone that recognizes your talent soon enough.
Here’s to hoping that your next application will lead to a job offer!