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Should you send a thank-you email if you didn’t get the job?

by THEA kelley | November 25, 2020

Should you send a thank-you email if you didn’t get the job?

It may seem strange to thank an employer for rejecting you. Actually, you’d be thanking them for considering you, and I recommend it, not because it’s polite and congenial, although it is, but because it can lead to an opportunity.

According to a recent recruiter survey, 77% of recruiters have gone back and hired a candidate who was second or third on the candidate list, or just wasn’t a fit at the time. There are various reasons this can happen.

The new hire might not work out.

I know this from personal experience. Before I became a job search and interview coach, I was once turned down for a job because another candidate had more experience. He accepted the job, then got a better offer and backed out on the Friday before he was supposed to start. So a few weeks after being rejected, I was hired. Did it bother me that I’d been second choice? A little, but I got over it. Life’s too short to waste time on ego trips.

Now, what if you were turned down for a job, and you were a strong second choice for the role, but so was one other candidate? Soon after you were turned down, you sent a pleasant email like the following to the hiring manager (and a similar one to the recruiter).

— — —

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for letting me know your decision. Although of course I’m disappointed, it was definitely a pleasure meeting you and having such great conversations about trends and technologies in our industry. I remain impressed with XYZ Co.’s products and culture, and I appreciate having been considered for the role.

Let’s keep in touch. I’ll send you a LinkedIn connection request in a moment, and I hope our paths cross in the future.

All the best,

Brent

— — —

Then, let’s say the new hire left the job during the first few weeks–due to personal or family issues, or to take a better job, or because they or the employer decided it just wasn’t a good fit. The employer has two runner-up candidates to circle back to, a somewhat awkward situation after having said “no thanks” to both of you. But you are the candidate who is so gracious and open. You’re going to have the advantage. And all it took was a few minutes of your time.

Scenario: Another role opens up.

Maybe a similar role will open up, either within or outside of the group you interviewed to join. Your gracious note will build relationship and make you more memorable, possibly leading to a referral. After all, just because they hired someone else doesn’t mean they weren’t impressed with you, too.

A meeting can fail as a job interview and still succeed as a form of networking.

So make it a standard part of your job search to send a thank-you note when you didn’t get the job. Who knows, you may even find that being so magnanimous helps lift your mood as you move on toward other opportunities!

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