3 Ways Professionals Should Respond To Job Rejection

Disappointed businessman reflects after being rejected for a job.

You polished your resume and sent it to the right person, along with a stellar cover letter. You got a call. You aced the interview. You were brought back in—twice! You sent thank you notes after each interview, to each interviewer. Your follow up was polite and appropriate. You were told you were a finalist. The HR person thought it was looking good for you...yet, they gave the job to someone else.

After all that effort and waiting and wondering. After joking with the receptionist about being a “regular" in the lobby. After establishing what seemed like a genuine rapport with the executive in charge of the department. After what the HR person said about it looking good...

Yes, it's a disappointment. But in spite of what you might think, all is not lost. What can you do to maximize your chances of having some good come out of this seeming loss? Here are three ways you should react to a particularly disappointing job rejection.

Be Gracious

Yes, you were obviously the best candidate, at least as far as you could tell. And maybe some of the people on the other side of the interview desk thought so, too. But a decision was made, no matter how difficult. And it's time to touch base one more time with a thank you note to all involved for their time and consideration.

Be A Resource, If You Can

HR manager has a long conversation with a potential employee.


If there's some topic that was discussed and piece of information that the interviewer wished they had, track it down. If the interviewer wanted to connect with someone you know, offer to make the introduction. There's not always an opportunity like this, but if there is, take advantage of it.

By doing this, you're not only being professional about the rejection, but it's also opening to add the hiring manager to your professional network. Consider connecting with this person on LinkedIn down the line.

As they say, "Out of sight, out of mind," so try to stay on the hiring manager's radar.

Keep The Door Open

Young woman and HR manager discuss the next steps after she is rejected from a job she applied to.


Even though you didn't get the job, it's important to reiterate your respect and admiration for the company, and the fact that you would like to work there. It's okay to say, "If another position comes up—or if the candidate you hired doesn't work out—I would still love the opportunity to join the team over there."

A sentence like this can cement you in their minds as the backup or as the first person to be called when something else becomes available.

HR officials will sometimes forward resumes of promising candidates to colleagues at other companies for their open positions. Getting the original job is just one good outcome of the job interviewing process. Consider a "near miss" at getting hired one more step in building your reputation for overall career success.

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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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