So You Didn't Get the Job?

If you’re reading this, you have probably felt the disappointment and frustration that occurs when you do not get the callback or receive the dreaded “Thank you for applying…blah, blah…but no” letter from the job you really wanted.   Sometimes the interview went okay and sometimes the interview was the best you could imagine.  In either scenario, the answer is the same: No thank you.

Many articles exist to help you get the job, but this blog aims to help you regroup after the rejection.  Consider these tips as you plan your next move.

1. Analyze your interview.  Think about what questions were asked and how you answered those questions.  Were you confident, calm, and composed?  Were you rambling, confusing, or withdrawn?  I am normally so glad to be done with the interview that I immediately forget the bad parts or sugarcoat the reality of what occurred.

You should really think about how you presented yourself during the interview to improve for future opportunities.  I also recommend keeping an ongoing document of tough questions and your best answer to those questions.  I will post a blog in a few weeks specifically about those terribly tricky interview questions that can tank an interview in about five minutes.  Overall, be honest in your evaluation and decide how best to present yourself and correctly answer questions for the next interview.

2. Review your portfolio.  Make additional changes to your resume, writing sample, references list, etc.  Have you sent your resume to other people for advice on mistakes or necessary changes?  I edit my resume at least twice a month, and I still find little changes that can make it better.  Remember that employers will consider your personality during the interview and the effectiveness and organization of your portfolio.  If an employer is caught between two equally qualified candidates and one resume has grammatical or structural errors, you can guess who will receive the job offer.  Take the time and make your portfolio the best it can be for the next interview.

3. Consider alternative options.  Yes, I said it – you may need to refocus your career search.  For all of you diehards searching for a job in a narrow field, remember that the economy is not looking very bright.  Perhaps several years ago you could jump right into your preferred field, but now current employers have smaller budgets and fewer employees.

Take for instance Destiny Decker, a political science and religion major from North Carolina.  Her entire undergraduate degree and experiences were aimed at working for a non-profit in England on the Middle East peace process.  When things didn’t work out, she worked at the Disney Store to make money and enhance her organizational, interpersonal, and diplomatic skills.  Destiny continued her search for work in D.C. by using her local contacts, one of whom contacted the director of the Traditional Values Coalition.  Her work ethic and skills landed her a salaried position five months later.

Are you like Destiny?  Take a job, learn new skills, continue looking, and prepare for the perfect opportunity.

4. Cultivate your skills while you can.  Do not languish at home wringing your hands about the lack of employment.  Do something to make your resume better: find volunteer work, get an internship, or work at the Disney store!

“Learn as many skills as possible in whatever you are doing,” Destiny recommends.  You may even gain contacts through your temporary job that can help the search for your preferred job sector.  Do not be afraid to work for a “plan B” or “plan C” employer.  All of your experience adds up, and your work ethic can be demonstrated by taking those temporary positions.

5. Don’t give up.  Keep searching for your dream job even though it seems unattainable at the present time.  Who knows – maybe the dream job is five or ten years from now.  Some opportunities may fall into your lap, whereas other opportunities are earned by hard work and dedication.  If you find yourself in a job that is not exactly what you wanted originally, re-evaluate your goals.  It could be that you love where you work now.

After the whirlwind of changes, Destiny concludes, “Now that I know what my dream job is, I can honestly say I am doing my dream job.  It has been challenging, but I know that everything I confront in the job world can either make me quit or make me stronger.”

If you fall into the category of unemployed or underemployed, I hope these tips give you some ideas for the future and changes to make while searching.  Keep up the hard work, and it will pay off, even if the final product is different than what you initially imagined.