How to Respond After You Get a Job Rejection – The Muse

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys getting rejected for jobs. So if you’re in that boat right now and feeling frustrated, angry, sad, or any combination of those emotions, I can totally relate.

While there are healthy ways to cope with being told “thanks, but no thanks,” I’m guessing the things you’ll want to do the most aren’t so healthy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they could wreck your chances of landing another job down the road.

Here are a few reactions to avoid, even though they’ll seem like the exact right thing to do in the moment.

1. You’ll Want to Give the Hiring Manager a Piece of Your Mind

It’s only natural to want to scream at the top of your lungs after hearing the word “no”— especially after you made it through a long interview process. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in bringing your A-game and I get that you’re upset.

But the reality is that the world isn’t nearly as large as you think—and there’s always the chance that you’ll cross paths with this hiring manager down the road. Letting him or her have it might make you feel better for a minute or two, but it’ll ultimately do more harm than good.

Instead: Follow-up Professionally

All that being said, it’s perfectly fine to send a follow-up email after you get rejected. Although you could easily end the conversation there without a response, it can be a good way to show that you were truly interested in the position and are disappointed that it didn’t work out. But be smart about it! In fact, do yourself a favor and use this template.

2. You’ll Want to Beg for Another Chance

When I was a recruiter, I reconsidered candidates after rejecting them for other roles. They stayed in touch, kept up with what our company was doing, and were truly excited when I reached back out. But don’t take that as a cue to drop to your knees and beg for another shot, especially right after you get the initial rejection.

Sure, you’ll make it clear that you want a job with the company—but you’ll also come off as desperate and wanting any position they’re willing to give to you.

Instead: Reapply in the Future

Again, one rejection email from a company doesn’t have to be the last time you ever hear from them. If you see a role in the future that you think you’re a fit for, go ahead and apply.

This isn’t a catchall timeframe, but when I was a recruiter, I was more than happy to hear from previously rejected candidates after four to six months.

But before you cold apply again, there are a few things you can do this time around. As Muse writer Sara McCord suggests in an article about her own experience getting rejected for one position, but then landing another, stay in touch if one of your interviewers makes it clear that he or she was a fan of your candidacy. And then, when you reach out about another position, make it clear that you’re even more qualified than before.

3. You’ll Want to Complain on Social Media

Social media’s a great place to share cat GIFs and your pressing thoughts on Game of Thrones. But when it comes to hearing bad news about a job you really wanted, it can be a good way to make potential employers want nothing to do with you.

It’s not difficult for a potential employer to check out what you’re up to on public platforms. And if a company that’s interested in you sees that you react to rejection this way, it won’t exactly endear you to them.

Instead: Vent to the People Who Care About You

Keeping your feelings to yourself is the complete opposite of what you should do. While you should avoid venting to the entire internet, you probably have a few people in your life who are totally invested in your success. Turn to those people and let them know how you’re feeling. Not only will they be good sounding boards, but they also might have some solid advice that could help you land another amazing gig.

If there was a way to make a job rejection sting a little less, I promise I’d do it for you. But as tough as being told “no” will always be, take a breath and think about how you respond. You could lash out and start screaming at people, but I know you’re smarter than that—and I know you’ll find a way to bounce back in a healthier and more productive way.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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