Lessons about good sportsmanship apply throughout life, especially when it comes to your career.
Recently, a job candidate expressed her disappointment after not getting a job she interviewed for. She really liked the company, too, she told me.
This happens to everyone. But, much like an athlete who uses a defeat to motivate them to their next triumph, a rejection can be the foundation for your next great career opportunity.
It's easy to feel crushed after learning that someone else was selected for the position, especially when everything seemed to be going well.
But the biggest mistake a lot of candidates make in this situation is feeling so discouraged and upset that their throw away the relationships they built throughout the interview process.
I've been in the hiring business for more than 15 years, and I always tell everyone I coach: "Making it deep into a company's hiring process is an accomplishment you should be proud of, particularly during times where the job market is competitive. Also, they didn't say, 'No, not ever.' They said, 'No, not today; we just found someone who was a little better fit than you.'"
So instead of hanging your head low, show your willingness to play the long game. Send your hiring manager (and maybe even the people you interviewed with) an email expressing your appreciation for their time and consideration.
It doesn't even have to be a super long message:
"Dear [HIRING MANAGER'S NAME],
Thank you so much for the opportunity. I really enjoyed learning more about your company and meeting all your wonderful employees. While I'm sad I wasn't selected, I'm happy you found the right candidate. Can you tell me what I need to do to stay on your radar for future opportunities?
Thank you again,
Reaching out graciously after getting rejected is such a sign of character, because believe it or not, employers don't enjoy giving bad news to good candidates. So when you take the high road, they're going to keep you in a special pile.
Don't be afraid to ask for more specific tips as well. Your hiring manager may respond with advice on how you can rework certain areas of your resume for future positions that they know may be coming up.
Remember, getting you hired benefits them as much as it benefits you.
J.T. O'Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in HR, recruiting and career coaching. For more career tips, follow her on TikTok @jtodonnell.