Programming Job Search: Getting Feedback After a Rejection

May 31, 2016

Lemons into Lemonade – Getting Feedback After the “No” During a Job Search

Picture of box of lemons

You’ve been searching hard. You’ve done multiple interviews during the course of your job search and possibly have gotten a couple of job offers. But when someone rejects you it can still taste like you’ve swallowed a lemon.

My mom always told me to turn “lemons into lemonade.” Yeah right, there are few things that feel worse than a job rejection I can hear you saying.

But all is not lost

You can still make the most of the rejection if you implement the following steps during your job search. I give you a full script at the end of this post to use for your own purposes, but first I want to walk you through why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Step 1 – Say Thank You & Keep Doors Open

Don’t pout. Don’t whine. These are things my parents used to say and their words would serve you well here. I like to say thank you for their consideration. The high road is always a winning road.

Step 2 – Asking For Feedback After Thanking Them

After saying “thank you”, then I like to ask them for feedback. But there is an important thing to do when you ask…

Reassure you’re not going to rationalize or argue

One reason companies don’t like to send feedback (besides the fact it can open them up to legal trouble) is that they’re afraid candidates will get defensive and start arguing about why they should be hired. Fortunately, you’re not going to do this, because you’re of a higher caliber (though it’s perfectly understandable if you want to…I know I wanted to at times 🙂 ).

Say thank you for the feedback

And if they are kind enough to give you the feedback, I always follow up with a one line thank you to let them acknowledge that I got it and I’m grateful.

Step 3 – The script template for your own use

Below is the script I use in response to an email rejection from a hiring manager. Feel free to adapt it using your own style of speaking.

*Dear [Name of Hiring Manager],

Thank you for letting me know. I wish you and [Company of Hiring Manager] the best.

PS – If you wouldn’t mind, I would greatly appreciate it if you could offer some criticism on the way I have presented myself, skills you felt I was lacking that the position called for, or things that may have disqualified me. Please understand that I’m asking for help here, not trying to rationalize or rehash my case. I’m just trying to make myself into a stronger candidate for the future.

Best of luck to you and [Company of Hiring Manager]!

Sincerely, [Your Name]*

Step 4 – The script for a simple thank you after you’ve gotten the specific feedback

*Dear [Name of Hiring Manager],

Thank you for the specific feedback! I wish you and [Company of Hiring Manager] the best.

Sincerely, [Your Name]*

My own results

I would say in a majority of the cases where I’ve done this (and I’ve gotten to at least the second interview with a technical hiring manager), I’ve gotten very specific feedback on what to improve or areas to focus on. It’s been helpful in shaping whether or not I decide to change jobs or what types of roles I’d like to take on next.

So try asking for feedback the next time you’re rejected. You might be pleasantly surprised at how you turned lemons into lemonade.