Less than 1 per cent of job applicants will send any kind of response in reply to a rejection after a job interview, according to "Career-Life Times." One human resources executive received only six such letters over the course of a 16-year career in HR, reports "The Ladders," a career advice and job board. Such a rare strategy can really make an applicant stand out -- and even earn him another chance. One applicant featured in "The Ladders" article was told the letter he wrote in response to a rejection was a major factor in the decision to offer him an alternate opportunity.
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Take Your Time
Unlike the follow-up thank you letter -- which must be completed within a 24- to 48-hour window after the interview -- applicants can afford to take more time before sending a follow-up letter to a rejection. There are several reasons why waiting a while might be beneficial. First, and most importantly, it allows you the opportunity to calm down and reflect on the experience objectively. This is important to ensure your letter is calm, respectful and gracious. Waiting also allows you to inform the employer of any new developments in your own skills, competencies or qualifications since the interview, and it could even be the case that the newly hired employee did not work out, so the letter is a timely reminder of your continued interest.
Inquire About Alternate Positions
Use the opportunity to ask about other positions within the company that you might be a fit for. Emphasise how much you valued the interview experience and that it reinforced your desire to work for the company. Acknowledge the interviewers did not feel you were right for the current position, but ask if they would keep you in mind for other job openings. If you have other skills or qualifications that were not relevant to the initial interview, briefly mention them in the letter.
Ask for Feedback
The rejection letter is a perfect time to ask for feedback on your performance. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, provide an e-mail address and telephone number and politely ask if the employer might consider providing feedback on the reasons for rejection. The tone of your letter must be professional, light and friendly as sounding defensive or argumentative may cause the employer to be reluctant to provide further details. When you receive feedback, remain calm and open to the comments.
Be aware that sometimes the interviewing panel has decided that you are just not a fit for the job. The reasons for rejection may be something that the hiring manager is just not willing to share -- not many of us would relish the idea of telling an applicant they seemed unstable, or that the position was promised from the start to the owner's son. No matter what you say in this situation, you are unlikely to get helpful feedback or be in a position to change the interviewer's mind, regardless how good your follow-up letter is.
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- Education Resource Information Center; Opening Doors. A Practical Guide for Job Hunting; Jane Goodman, Judith Hoppin and Ronald Kent; 1984
- U.S. News Money; 5 Reasons Employers Don't Tell Why They Didn't Hire You; Alison Green; May 2010
- Career-Life Times; The Hottest Job Markets; May 2007
- The Ladders; The Letter to Write When You Don't Get the Job; Lisa Vaas; November 2010