So you didn’t get your dream job. Now what?

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Any job rejection is hard. But when a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email lands in your inbox, letting you know you didn't get your dream job, it's even trickier to navigate.

This is especially if you’d spent hours prepping your application and invested just as much emotion into it. Once you’ve dusted yourself off from the disappointment, let’s look at some next steps. And let's remember, there will be new opportunities that may even top this "dream job" that didn't work out. What you learn from this rejection will help you be more successful next time.

Ask for feedback when you didn’t get your dream job

Being able to find out why you were rejected is a way to get closure as well as get some hints on how you can improve.

If you did get some feedback, great. It’ll give you a chance to learn from the situation and form a plan of what you can do differently next time. But not all recruiters automatically offer feedback to unsuccessful applicants. So feel free to follow up and ask why you weren’t the right fit.

Most recruiters expect unsuccessful candidates to get in touch for any pointers, so you have nothing to lose.

Feel like the feedback you got was quite generic? Don’t be shy about asking them to get really specific. Perhaps ask if there are any areas you need to do better on. Or ask for their expert opinion on whether they feel this is the right role for your level of experience.

Adjust your approach based on feedback

After the recruiter feedback, it’s time to do a proper post-interview analysis yourself. If you’ve had a few rejections in a row, it’s even more important to be honest and try to pinpoint what might be happening. 

Are your interview skills needing a refresher? Check out our interview guide for tips on how to prepare and impress.

Are there some recurring themes? Perhaps there’s an aspect of a previous role that you tend to struggle to explain clearly in every interview. Or maybe you’ve never really felt comfortable with self-promotion and talking yourself up.

You might wonder if you didn’t get your dream job because you sounded over-rehearsed in parts. Or, worse still, maybe you came off as underprepared. Think honestly about whether you oversold something on your CV that you couldn’t back up when you met in person.

The positive takeaway? Every interview you do is adding to your experience and giving you a new chance to work on your strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes job rejection is out of your control

If you’ve had a chance to self-reflect after your disappointing news, we’re here to comfort you with a recruitment truth. There are many factors involved in why candidates don’t make it, and some of those won’t be your fault.

Employers are keen to find potential team members who will fit well into an existing team.

The skills and experience listed on your CV are often just half the story. So, if your interviewer feels that you might not gel with existing staff they probably won’t take your application further.

Also, it’s not unusual for existing employees to end up being promoted into your dream role. Someone who already knows the ropes and is familiar with the team is often a safer bet than an untried candidate.

Don't lose heart. Now you're better prepared for new opportunities.

The whole recruitment process can be gruelling. So, self-care is key for every job hunter. Whether you’re looking to move from a role you’re already in, or need to get into work, the last thing you want is job search burnout. Even though you know intellectually that more opportunities will come your way, it can be hard to stay motivated.

We’ve written before about self-care tips for job hunters in winter but make sure you look after your physical, emotional and mental health all year round if you’re on the hunt for a new job. This will help you perform at your best during interviews. And you'll feel more confident to take on those new opportunities.

Taking care of yourself makes it easier to keep moving forward. After all, everyone’s rejected at some point in their life. The secret is learning something from it so you can turn this setback into a positive. You've got this!

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