What to Do if You Are Rejected for a Job

Have you been rejected for a job that you know you are qualified for? Here are five essential steps to get your job search back on track fast.

September 25, 2022

98% of job seekers are rejected at the initial resume screening.

Only the “top 2% of candidates make it to the interview,” according to Robert Meier.

Job search rejection is more common than you think, I’m going to tell you what to do about it.


Coming up

In the next few minutes, I’m going to give you 5 tips for handling job search rejection.

These tips will help you to evaluate, re-energize, and get right back on the road to job search success.

You have the power to mentally reframe job search rejection, even though it’s instinctive to take rejection personally.

Job search rejection is often a stepping stone on the path to job search success.

If your goal is to find your perfect job, I’m going to tell you how to transform rejection into opportunity.



Tip 1: When rejected for a job you should write a thank you note

Writing a thank you note is an expectation, not an option even if you’ve been rejected for the job, this is because it demonstrates to the interviewer that you value their time and have an interest in the company.

You demonstrate professionalism and poise when you thank the interviewer for their time, even in spite of their rejection.

A thank you note tells the hiring manager that you are still keen to work for the company.

Even if it doesn’t land you a job immediately, it shows the hiring manager that you have class, persistence and resilience — traits that may keep you on the shortlist for future jobs with that organization.

How to write a post-job search rejection thank you note that is out of this world:

The goal of a thoughtful thank you note is to express gratitude and provide a reminder of your potential value, but it also should generate a positive response from the hiring manager

Make sure it’s not too simple. A basic note that says, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today,” just isn’t going to cut it.

5 critical elements for a stellar thank you note:

  • Apply a professional tone and approach
  • Customize your content to the experience
  • Remind the reader of your potential value
  • Express sincerity and interest in future opportunities
  • Balance detailed content with brief delivery



Tip 2: Reassure them you’re still interested in the company even after being rejected for the job

Rejection could eventually lead to a similar position or something better at the same company — maybe in the near future!

When you remind the hiring manager of your interest, it will keep you on their radar and also show a great deal of grit and determination.


Sample job search rejection thank you note

Dear X

Thank you for taking the time to share details about the (name of position) role and the company — and for considering me for the opportunity.

While I’m disappointed to learn you’re moving forward with another candidate, I’ve been an admirer of (name of company) for a while and this experience has only served to strengthen my impression!

I hope you’ll keep me in mind for future opportunities. It would be an honour to put my skills to work for an organization I admire and contribute to its continued success.


Your name



Tip 3: You should continue to connect with the person that rejected you

Maintaining connections both virtually and in person is a great way to keep yourself in the hiring manager’s orbit.

Send the hiring manager a LinkedIn connection request.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool and a great way to maintain long-term connections.

Continue to comment thoughtfully on company LinkedIn posts, work to be a thought leader in your industry, and post relevant news articles and publications.

Update your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s complete, current and clear. This will help to put you in a powerful position for future job opportunities.



Tip 4: Reflect on the reasons that you were rejected for the job

Continue to foster a relationship with the person that rejected you.

Often, hiring managers will send a vague reason for their rejection, and that’s the end.

However, they may sometimes take the time to personally call you and this is your opportunity to ask for constructive feedback.

If given feedback, take time to reflect on the reasons that the company rejected you for the job.

Could you have been more prepared? Did you try to build rapport or connect with the manager during the interview?

Should you apply again in a certain amount of time after you have more experience under your belt?



Tip 5: Put the rejection behind you and keep on keeping on

For future job searches, consider Joseph Liu’s approach described in Fast Company, “Stay committed without getting attached.”

Joseph Lui considers commitment and attachment linked but two distinct things. “Commitment means being dedicated 100% of the time,” while attachment is, “when all of my energy is consumed with end results.”

Look at the process, not only the outcomes.



What do successful job seekers do that is different?

Successful job seekers don’t stick to application rules

Sometimes you need to break the rule.

When hiring managers post corporate job opportunities they receive an average of 250 applications.

Hiring managers usually scoop up the top candidates in around 10 days.


What can you do?

  • Call and ask for the name and email address of the person hiring and follow up with them directly.
  • Connect with key team members or decision-makers on LinkedIn.



Successful job seekers understand that they have competition

If you want to get the job you need to sell yourself better than your competition.


What can you do?

  • Research positions, companies and markets to gain a deeper understanding of the requirements.
  • Analyze people in your field or similar roles to see what shared skills they possess.



Successful job seekers don’t have a “What’s In It For Me,” mindset

Focus your intent on ROI rather than WIFM.

When you adopt an ROI mindset, you focus on what you can do for the employer, and this is what the company wants to know.


What can you do?

  • Utilize research you have collected about the position, company and market to create key talking points in your resume and the interview.
  • In your first two interviews, ensure that you focus on the employer and their needs.


Successful job seekers create a job search strategy plan

Keep yourself accountable with a job search strategy plan that outlines specific actions, timelines and follow-through. Be intentional, and address each step.


What can you do?

  • Clearly define your target, research organizations that fit, and identify key contacts.
  • Create an organized document that tracks progress.
  • Be confident in your success



Job search rejection does not signal the end and it’s not necessarily a reflection on you as a candidate, remember; 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the “top 2% of candidates make it to the interview,” according to Robert Meier.

The 5 tips outlined in this article will help you to turn rejection into opportunity and ultimately land the job that’s right for you.

If you’d like further support with your job search, check out Job Search Secret Weapon’s resources.

You can reach out to Sarah Johnston directly at www.briefcasecoach.com.

Explore Sarah’s favourite job search tools here.

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About the author

Sarah Johnston

I'm a former corporate recruiter and industry "insider" who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!)

I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly's Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the "best resume writing firm for experienced executives" by Balance Careers and a "top follow" by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.