A reader writes:
I wanted to give you a happy endings story.
After 2 months of interviews for what was a dream internship, I found out on Friday that I didn’t get the job. I was slightly devastated, but having read almost every article you’ve posted, I knew I needed to send a genuine thank-you note. Even though I wasn’t in a particularly thankful mood, I sent a note thanking the interviewer for his time and the opportunity to learn more about the organization, etc. I also learned from someone who wrote into you the power of asking for feedback, so I asked him for any additional feedback he thought I could use.
This is the email I sent:
“While it pains me to see this opportunity go, I want to thank you for getting back to me. I also want to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. It was such a pleasure to meet you and ___ and learn about the organization. After spending the time talking with you and doing my research, I really do believe that the ___ industry is where I want to work. I know that I am not in a position to ask for favors, but if you have a moment to spare I would love any additional feedback. Please do not feel obligated to answer this question, but if there was something you noticed, it will help me in my job search and I would be most appreciative. I hope everything works out with you and your new intern.”
This was his response:
“Thank you for your email. You are a class act. Honestly, it was picking the best of the best…as you know, you were a top candidate. I can’t even tell you what you need to work on which sounds crazy but it’s true. It was a VERY difficult decision and it came down to the other candidate happened to have some festival experience which gave him a tiny bit of an edge. I tell you this because I want to be sure you know what a great interview and resume you had. As we continue to grow, I am keeping your resume with me, because you never know around here. Also we have a few other opportunities for part time, temporary positions closer to the event which I would love to chat with you about.”
I was shocked and so grateful that he took the time to write this. All in all, this gave me the closure I needed, and the opportunity that I might get to work with them after all. As angry and hurt as I was after hearing no, even though I went through 3 interviews and reference checks, pulling myself together to write this email was the best decision I made and I am happy to say that I consider this a happy ending!
Thanks for sharing this! It’s always worth sending a nice note back in response to a rejection, even if you’re not feeling entirely cheery, and you never know what may come of it. This type of note has led to referrals to other jobs, job offers months later (if the first person hired didn’t work out or if another position opens up), insider info about upcoming openings that might not be advertised, useful feedback, and all sorts of other good things.
That doesn’t mean that you will always get something like that out of it, of course, and no one should send notes like those with the expectation that it will. But it’s worth putting good things like this out into your job searching world, because sometimes they do come back to you (similar to, say, networking and staying on good terms with old managers). And if they don’t, you’ve behaved well and have lost nothing.
Thanks for a good example of how to do this!