You did everything right: your resume was spot-on, your references were stellar and you connected well with each of your interviewers. Yet, despite your best efforts, the job offer went to someone else. Is there anything you can do? You might be surprised, but the answer is actually… yes!
No one will argue that the job search process holds more than its share of setbacks and frustrations. One of the most challenging of these is when the job your really want—one that appeared specifically made for you—goes to another candidate. This type of painful experience can knock the wind out of even the most determined job-seeker. Nevertheless, as with many of life’s challenges, much rests upon your response to the situation. Depending upon your actions and reactions, there is a real chance that you may ultimately be successful and even land that job you wanted.
Here are three important points for you to consider:
Try to stifle your inner saboteur
Experiencing a major setback can unleash the inner demons that will wreck havoc on both your outlook and your confidence. Feelings of fear, self-doubt and anger, although justified under such circumstances, will only serve to stop you in your tracks. Fear that you won’t get another job offer; doubt that your skills and experience are competitive enough for you to be successful; and anger at the unfairness of the job search only serve to focus your energy in negative ways.
After such a confidence shaking event, it’s a good idea to take a couple of days off to clear your head. This is time to indulge yourself and pursue activities that renew your energy and your spirit. If you can afford it, take an overnight trip to one of your favorite spots. Go to a dinner and a movie with friends, or pamper yourself with a massage. If money is an issue (which it often is when one is unemployed), take an afternoon walk in the park. Just do what you can to restore your equilibrium, your outlook and your soul.
Beware of the temptation to ask for feedback
A number of well-meaning job search counselors as well as several books on finding work recommend that you contact your interviewers requesting feedback as to your performance as a candidate. This is meant to give you ideas and suggestions for improvement the next time you interview for a job.
In numerous ways, however, this is a bad idea. To start, such a request is awkward—both for the interviewer and for you. Secondly, few people feel comfortable giving negative feedback so they will generally either ignore the request or sugarcoat their responses. Third, your interviewers have moved on. Their interest was in filling the position and getting on with their projects. Now that they’ve brought in a new-hire, they are focused on training him or her and bringing them up to speed. And, lastly and most importantly, if you request and receive feedback, you are pretty much closing the door on your relationship. In other words, you are giving the message that: “You don’t want me… so please help me improve so that the next interviewer will like me better.”
Rather than shut the door… reinforce your interest in the position and the company
A far better idea is to let your interviewer know that, although you were not selected, you are still very interested in both the position and the company. Many new-hires (some statistics cite close to 25%) don’t last longer than their probationary period. Either they can’t adequately perform the requirements of the job, their personalities aren’t a good fit with the other team members or another job that they’d wanted came through and they leave.
Compose an email or a letter to the hiring manager and say something like, “Congratulations on selecting a candidate to fill the position. Although I was disappointed that it wasn’t me, I would like you to know how much I valued our conversation, the information you shared and the time you spent with me. I remain very interested in both your company and the goals of your team. If, for some reason, things change or an opportunity opens up to bring on a new employee, I hope you will continue to consider me. As we discussed, I can contribute the following areas of expertise.” (Then bullet out four or five of your skill areas that are key to the position and the organization. You might also include/attach your resume as an additional refresher of who you are and what you bring.)
By giving yourself the time to handle your emotions and renew your sense of self-worth as a candidate, you can once again present yourself with confidence. Even if the position you initially wanted remains filled, by writing the hiring manager and underscoring both your interest and your abilities, you are opening the door to new opportunities within the company. In fact, you may well be putting yourself on the inside track to an even better position in an organization where you want to work.
So don’t let major setbacks stop you. The job search process is filled with seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. Instead, try to remember the famous quote by Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”