Didn’t get the job, but didn’t get feedback? Here’s how to handle it.
In dating or job-hunting, we all just need some closure.
We’ve all been there: You make the shortlist for a particular job, and maybe even have a preliminary interview; you get psyched up about it, do your research, envision yourself working in a new environment, and check your voicemail and email 42 times a day in case they’re inviting you for a second interview or letting you know you got the job.
But then 3 weeks go by without so much as a generic “Sorry, but…” email, and you start to feel the way you did in high school when that cute guy you had a crush on asked for your number, then didn’t ever call you: You’re 99% certain that your dreams of finally getting a popular boyfriend have been dashed upon the rocks of reality, but it’s just possible that he does really like you, but lost your number and/or was hit by a car and the resultant coma is keeping him from calling you.
It’s hard not to feel frustrated, rejected, or downright angry. But here are some tips to help you cope:
1. Don’t take it personally.
Yes, the recruiter or hiring manager should have called or emailed to let you know that you didn’t get the job – it’s not about you specifically.
As one recruiter at the conference said, sheepishly: “I hate having to call people with bad news, so I tend to procrastinate. Suddenly I realize I’ve put off making the call for 3 weeks, and I feel even worse – so I just kind of keep putting it off indefinitely.”
2. Sometimes the recruiter doesn’t know any more than you do.
Just as you’re waiting for feedback from the recruiter (headhunter) who sent you to an interview, the recruiter may be waiting for feedback from the employer – it’s not unusual for a company to interview 5 candidates, then take 2 or 3 weeks to get in touch with the recruiter with feedback, next steps, or a decision. So the recruiter thinks, “Oh, I won’t bother calling Bob til I have some news for him…”
So if it’s been a week or two since your interview, drop the recruiter a brief email:
“Hey Christabel, just wanted to follow up. It’s been a couple of weeks since my interview with Acme Inc. and I wondered if you’d had any feedback from them…? I know you said they don’t make decisions quickly…”
3. Try not to make the recruiter dread having to call or email you.
Recruiters tend to be outgoing people who genuinely like other people, so 99% of them feel the same way as the recruiter in #1, above: They just hate having to deliver bad news. And it’s worse if they know the person on the other end (i.e. you) is really going to be very upset or lose their shizzle, like the (Potential) Intern From Hell.
The more you can demonstrate that you can handle disappointing feedback, the more likely the recruiter is to make sure you get it promptly.
4. Manage your expectations.
When you’re looking for a new job, every week can feel like an eternity. But for most companies – especially larger ones – the hiring process can take 3-4 weeks or more, from the first interview to a formal job offer. So it’s important to have realistic expectations (“It’s August, and probably some of the people who are involved with hiring for this position will be out of the office on vacation so it may be 3 weeks before they can get together to determine which candidates will be proceeding..”) – remember, getting a new job may be your #1 priority, but the people making the hiring decisions may have other business challenges to deal with at the moment.
Before you go to the interview with the potential employer, it’s a good idea to ask the recruiter what you can expect in terms of feedback or follow-up: If the recruiter tells you that the employer typically takes several weeks to move to the next step, at least you won’t be sitting by the phone for the next 48 hours.
5. Don’t let it make you angry – just move on.
Anger isn’t productive, and it won’t help improve your chances of getting your dream job. That letter from the (Potential) Intern From Hell is a good example of the damage anger can do when you let it get the best of you. Go for a run, do some yoga, rant to your best friend – but then let it go, so that in your next interview you come across as the kind of positive, optimistic person that everyone wants to hire.
6. Accept that sometimes you may not have closure.
How many times have you found yourself thinking, “You know what? It was probably good that that cute guy never did call me, because 3 months later I met my soulmate – which would never have happened if I’d been dating someone else at the time. I guess everything happens for a reason…”?
Job-hunting is a lot like dating: Sometimes you won’t get neat and tidy closure – but in retrospect, it all tends to work out.
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For more information on navigating your next IT career move, check out our Guide to Finding the Perfect Tech Job.