How to Respond When You Didn't Get the Job

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By Danny Rubin

The following email guide is from Danny Rubin's new book, "Wait, How Do I Write This Email?," a collection of 100+ templates for networking, the job search and LinkedIn.

It's the moment of truth in the job interview process: did I get the job or not?

You wait anxiously by the computer and know the answer could forever change your career.

Then, the fateful email comes across. You open with anticipation and find out...you didn't land the job. It's a tough moment, I know.

Still, it's important to respond professionally despite the sting of rejection. Here's exactly what to say to leave the door open for future opportunities.

Handle rejection like a pro

The employer sends the "Sorry you didn't land the job" email and, too disappointed or angry at the outcome, you don't reply. You go dark and think, "Who needs that company, anyway? Moving on."
Bad idea. Why?

No reply: You leave zero opportunity on the table.

A prompt answer: Anything can happen.

What if:
  • The person the company chooses ultimately doesn't take the job?
  • The company decides to hire two people and not one?
  • Some unforeseen circumstance requires the company to reopen the job search?
If you and another person were finalists for the job, your follow-up email might have an impact. You stood tall and took the rejection. The other person, feeling spurned, walked away.

The next time you get a big fat "No," send off this reply:

Hi ______,

Thank you for letting me know about the [name of position/internship].

I understand your decision and appreciate the opportunity to interview for the job. Please keep me in mind for future opportunities, even in a freelance capacity. I respect the work you do at [name of company] and would like to contribute if possible.

NOTE: Advanced skill: Add this line before "All the best":

"I maintain a personal hashtag, #yournameportfolio, where I post articles I find interesting and the latest on my career. Please check it out from time to time and see what I'm doing."

If you have a blog/website, you can include a link there as well.

All the best,

– Your first name

Email signature


Deeper insight


Roll with the rejection and see if you can maintain the relationship with the company — if it's still a place where you would like to work.

The key is to respond promptly and show nothing but confidence. You didn't land the job — OK, life goes on. But you maintain a positive relationship with the employer and that could go a long way.

There's opportunity everywhere — even in an email response to a rejection.
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