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Responding to a rejection email

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 27 Mar 2023

Rejection is an opportunity

No one likes rejection but it’s an important part of life and the job seeking process. We can’t always be successful and although you probably know this deep down, being rejected from a job you wanted can still hit hard. Job seeking can take a lot of preparation and rejection can seem like a slap in the face. But if you thought you were going to be successful in every single job venture, why did you apply for multiple at once? We all know rejection may be coming at some point, we just need to know how to handle it and learn from it in the long run. This article is not only about handling rejection from employers but also about dealing with it personally and making sure you use these experiences in a positive way. 

Trying to find the positive side

After we’ve been rejected, it’s likely you instantly think about the negatives and all the things you may have done wrong, it’s only natural. But what if you took a minute to think about why you weren’t successful this time? There’s always something to learn. So, think about the interview and job process, what would you do differently next time?

Also think about what you’re proud of. Job searching takes a lot of time and effort, so whether you are successful or not, be proud of what you have accomplished. Skills develop over time and if you need to work on a few things, keep going. It’s normal to be critical of ourselves but it’s about time we normalise being proud of our own achievements. Take this and use it to your advantage, you’ll find the job that’s right for you. If you didn’t succeed this time, it just means there is something better out there waiting for you. 

Use this experience to build resilience

Being able to bounce back and adapt to any situation can be very important. It won’t be smooth sailing and there may be challenges that you have to face along the way. However, the way you pick yourself up and carry on is what defines you. Your achievements and downfalls are not what make you who you are. Being able to take a step back when you need to and start again is a very worthy skill and it may not always come naturally. 

Rejection can have an impact on your mental, physical, and emotional health. It can really knock you down and can feel hard to get back up at times. We all take rejection differently. If you need to take some time to recover and make sure you have the capability and support to carry on, do it. A bit of rest can go a long way. But try and keep moving. Resilience is key to a job search, and you’ll find your reason to start your search again. 

Ask for feedback and take time to reflect

Rejection is not a reflection of you and your skills. Although it may feel like it at the time, being rejected from a new role doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do. It doesn’t mean your skills aren’t valid and you aren’t a good fit for the role. It just means that there was someone better suited for that specific role. You can’t always be the best and strongest candidate. When you’re successful, there will always be others receiving the rejection letter. It doesn’t define you. 

Take the time to ask for feedback. Although tempting to just accept the rejection and move onto the next job, use this as a learning opportunity. 

  • What could you do better next time?
  • How would you change your performance in an interview?
  • Could you ask more questions?
  • Would you take the time to research the company?
  • Could you talk about soft skills as well as technical skills?

There is often so much to do before an interview that it’s hard to do everything. There’s always room for improvement and the interviewer may be able to shed some light on these potential learning points.

Why respond to a rejection letter?

When you receive a rejection letter or email, it’s best to take some time to focus on the points above and make sure you are soaking it in before making any sudden responses. We all take rejection differently and it’s probably best to take some time to think about it before acting. 

It can be tempting to move on after receiving rejection, but taking the time to respond in a polite way can make you memorable. Just because you weren’t successful this time, doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future. Even if this opportunity hasn’t resulted in employment, it can be a good chance to grow your network. Interviews are a great place to meet new people and like-minded professionals. So why not take this time to stay in contact?

Rejection also doesn’t mean you’re not a worthy candidate. Although it can feel like you just weren’t good enough, it might mean you’re better suited to another role. As they say, one door closes, another one opens. If you respond to a rejection letter with a polite and positive attitude, thank them for their time and opportunity, you may just find yourself applying for another role in the future. This could be the thing that leaves a lasting impression of you. 

How to respond?

It can be daunting, staring at a blank screen, trying to thank the person that just declined your job application. However, take the time to put some attention and care into this letter / email. You don’t want it to seem like you don’t care, even if you’re feeling negative at that moment. So, what can you do to send a good response?

Start by thanking them - You may not feel like thanking them, but interviews take a lot of time and effort from all involved. They would have taken time out of their work schedule to read your CV, meet you and even send you this letter. Not everyone receives rejection letters, some get nothing! So thank them for the opportunity, taking the time to meet you and the decency to give you a decision, even if it wasn’t quite what you were hoping for. 

You can show your disappointment - After thanking them, you can share your disappointment if you feel it’s the right thing. Express the interest you had in the job, company, and the team. It may be a negative point to make but remain positive throughout. Wish them luck for the future and you can even say, you wish to find another opportunity with them in the near future. It shows how much you care about that company.

Request feedback - As mentioned above, rejection can be a great opportunity to learn something new. You may be able to spend some time looking back and thinking about what you would change in the future. But feedback from an interviewer can be priceless. Express your desire to learn and grow from this experience. Your personal development may be important to you, and this shows. Make sure you are thanking them again as feedback takes time. If you don’t receive any, don’t feel disheartened. They often can’t reply to everyone. 

Take time to address the issues

You may have other job opportunities on the horizon, so it’s good to think about any improvements you could be making. If you’ve received feedback from an interviewer, make sure you take the time to read it, digest it and learn from it. Some learning takes place over time and can only be done when in interviews. Whether it be nerves, asking more questions or conducting a bit more research, there is always room for improvement. Not only for new job seekers either. If you are given feedback, don’t waste it. Not everyone will receive it, so make sure you value it. 

You can even use this new knowledge to refine your job search. To ensure you are looking for the jobs that are right for you. You don’t want to keep applying for roles that aren’t going to result in employment. You want to know you are going to eventually get a role and one you deserve. So, look for jobs that are right for you. Make sure you are looking for specific job titles, jobs in the right area (both professionally and geographically) and ones that are suited to your skill-set. 

Rejection can be hard to handle. Most people don’t like getting rejected and it can result in some pretty negative feelings. However, something that is originally deemed as a negative experience can really help you in the long run. It can provide learning, development and allow you to build upon your interview skills. Use it to build resilience, try harder and become a better professional. You’ll get the job you’re looking for; it might just take a little extra time than you originally thought.