Getting turned down for a job you really wanted can be painful, especially if you have made it through multiple rounds of interviews and felt that you were a leading candidate for the position.
What should you do if you've been turned down for a job? How should you respond to a rejection email? The job application process has never been so informal, and a significant number of employers don't even bother to tell applicants that they have been turned down for a job. Employers aren't legally required to notify candidates who aren't selected.
The Best Way to Respond to a Job Rejection Email
It's certainly not necessary to send a follow-up email unless you really want to make a good impression and be considered for jobs with that specific employer in the future.
However, if you want to make that good impression on the employer who rejected you, consider sending a follow-up email that expresses your gratitude for the opportunity to interview, mildly states your disappointment with the rejection, and asks for consideration for future openings.
Why Didn't You Get the Job?
You may have little idea why a certain employer rejected you. They may have already had a leading candidate in mind when they interviewed you and simply went through the motions when they interviewed other candidates. Or, they may have hired internally or brought someone on board whom an existing employee referred to them. You simply may not have had the experience and background they were looking for.
The rejection may not have had anything to do with you. The company may have decided not to fill the position.
The best way to determine why you didn’t make the cut is to look back at the job description the company posted, and analyze how well your experiences lined up with the qualifications they sought.
Try to Remember the Interview Itself
When thinking back on your experience with the company, review how your interview went. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you think that you did a good job?
- Did you answer their questions in a confident and knowledgeable manner?
- Did you maintain eye contact and interact with every member of the interviewing team?
- Did the interviewers seem friendly or cold?
Asking these questions won't necessarily tell you why you didn't get the job, but it can help shed some light on areas you might improve upon in future interviews.
Why You Should Take the Time to Respond
Believe it or not, many job applicants who've been rejected by a company eventually go on to land a job with the company that initially passed on them.
In other cases, hiring managers who have been impressed by second- or- third-place candidates often will network on their behalf with other employers or clients they know are seeking strong candidates for current job openings.
Saying thank-you for being considered for the position, even when you didn't get hired, also attests to your professionalism and courtesy.
What to Include in the Message
When you're writing to follow up after being rejected for the job, keep your message simple. All you need to include in a brief email to the hiring manager is:
- A thank-you for considering you for the job.
- Your disappointment that you didn't get an offer (but don't go overboard).
- A request for consideration for future opportunities that may be a better fit.
What Not to Say When You Didn't Get the Job
A follow-up letter is not the place to air your grievances with the company or to insult the representatives who interviewed you for not seeing how much of an asset you would have been to them.
Remember to keep your tone positive and professional. If you feel that you cannot rein in your negative emotions, it’s better not to send a follow-up email at all.
Follow-up letters are not the place to inquire why you have been turned down for a job or to solicit feedback about what you could have done better in an interview.
Rejection Follow-Up Email Examples
Here are examples of follow-up letters to send when you have been turned down for a position. A letter thanks the hiring manager for their time, reiterates interest in the employer, and asks to be considered for other openings.
Sample Email Follow-Up After Job Rejection
Subject Line: Your Name – Sales Manager Position
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
It was a pleasure meeting with you about the sales manager position at ABC Enterprises. I really appreciate the time you spent speaking with me about the position, your company’s climate and history, and the wonderful opportunities available within your organization.
While I am disappointed that my experience isn't quite what you are looking for in this position, I am still very interested in your company. I would appreciate your further consideration should another position become available that you feel would be a better fit for my skills.
Thank you for your time and encouragement.
First Name Last Name
Sample Email Follow-Up After Rejection Message
Subject Line: Job Title (the job you applied for) – Your Name
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Thank you very much for considering me for the marketing representative position. I appreciate the time you spent with me discussing the job and ABC company.
If there is a position that would be a better fit for my experience and qualifications, I would be interested in applying. Please keep me in mind for any future opportunities as they arise.
Again, thank you for your consideration for the position.
First Name Last Name