No matter what stage of your career you're at, thank-you notes are highly valued. They can help you land a job or internship, build your professional network, and set you apart from the crowd. One of the most overlooked occasions to say thank you is after receiving a rejection.
After going through the long application process, interviews, and waiting to get a response, a rejection letter can sting. But while this particular opportunity has ended, your future is still wide open. Using this time as a chance to connect with the hiring manager or department head can help you later on in your career.
Writing a Thank You After a Rejection
After your interview, it's always wise to get the business cards of any people you met for a follow-up email. While you may feel silly reaching out to them again after a rejection, doing so can be a significant benefit to you. It conveys professionalism and graciousness on your part. The interviewers are likely to remember you in a very positive light, which may lead to future opportunities. The person hired could leave or otherwise not work out. In some cases, the interviewers may know of positions at other companies that would be a good fit, so a thank-you note can lead to a referral to a different job opportunity.
Here's a sample thank-you note you can modify for your use after receiving a rejection letter:
Thanks so much for your note. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to apply for the editorial internship at your company. While I’m disappointed I didn’t get the internship, I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me and review my materials.
I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out and ask for any constructive criticism regarding my resume or interview skills. I value your opinion and would love to be considered for future opportunities.
The note is short and to the point. It shows that you value the time the interviewer spent with you and their expertise in the industry. An interviewer will read a note like this with appreciation. If they do get back to you, take any advice or criticism very seriously. Don't write anything off or ignore their observations. Any feedback is a gift that you can use to improve your performance and interview skills to get a job later on. It is invaluable in building your professional skills.
What if I Don't Get a Response?
If you don't hear back from the interviewer, don't be disappointed or discouraged. Some companies have policies that discourage employees from speaking with former candidates, or the hiring manager may just be very busy. Once you send the thank-you note, distance yourself from that role and that company and move on in your search.
Remember, rejection is part of landing an internship or a job. You have to get rejected to eventually get to where you want to be. You may have to put out dozens of applications before getting an offer. That is completely normal and is to be expected, so stay positive!