No Risk High Reward Response to a Job Rejection

Tommy Leung wrote this on Apr 25, 2018
3 minute read

Have you ever come across a job that you just loved?

You like the company. The job is something you want to do. And you are motivated to put in the effort to be great at the work.

All of this comes through in your interview but you get rejected anyway.

The reasons can be wide and varied. From one of the interviewers disliking your personality to just not having the exact skillset the company is looking for.

It is disappointing. The job felt perfect.

What do you do after that?

First you should be respectful and cordial. This is not personal. Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily.

Some companies might ask for feedback. Those companies are looking to improve themselves.

But guess who else should be improving themselves?

You. Me. All of us.

So we should ask for feedback from the company that just rejected us.

Often times people won’t be blunt or candid. They don’t want to offend so they might not tell you that your attitude sucked. Or they didn’t like some particular character trait.

So ask them what resources they could point you to that would help make you a better candidate.

This way the interviewers can avoid being offensive and you still get the feedback you want.

Everyone is busy and no one is obligated to give you any advice or direction. But it never hurts to ask.

You might not like what they tell you. But you have to put your ego aside. This is about learning.

Maybe you aren’t as strong in a particular skill as you thought. That would be good to know so that you can work on getting better.

Maybe you are a horrible communicator. No problem. You can fix that.

Maybe you just don’t fit the culture of the company. That’s also good to know. It can be miserable working somewhere where you just don’t fit.

With feedback in hand you can make changes.

You can work on improving yourself for the next interview. And if you get rejected again then ask for feedback again.

Consider each rejection as a gift. It is an opportunity to learn and improve.

Don’t dwell on the fact that you were rejected. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you react to the rejection.

You can fill your mind with thoughts about how stupid the company was to miss your value. You can soothe yourself with thoughts of how much more qualified you are than the interviewers.

But none of that is productive.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.”

- H. Stanley Judd

They could be a horrible company. They could be a great company. You aren’t going to work there so what does it matter?

All that matters is how much value you can get out of the current situation. How much lemonade can you squeeze out of these lemons?

Don’t burn bridges. Ask for feedback.

You lose nothing if the company never responds. But the insight you might gain can be invaluable. The downside is basically zero. But the upside can be incalculable.

You could be doing something wrong or missing a key skill that—if no one were to tell you—could result in rejection after rejection until you end up settling for a job you didn’t really want.

Having that feedback allows you to make a change that could radically change the direction of your life. Small differences compounded over a career can lead to places you never imagined.

This is optionality. Minimum risk for a much greater potential reward.

Always ask for feedback after being rejected for a job.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

- Japanese proverb