How to Reapply with the Employer who Rejected You
5 Steps to Picking Yourself Up, Brushing Yourself Off, And Getting to Yes
There are few things as deflating to a job seeker than receiving the dreaded rejection email…
Well, there is that one thing: getting rejected by “the dream employer” after interviewing for “the dream job.” That’s rough. And if, after falling off that bike, you feel like throwing said bike in the ditch and walking away, I understand.
But before you do that, ask yourself the following question:
Why was that particular position your dream job in the first place? If, after serious thought, you can’t think of much, then fine, walk away. But what if your list of reasons includes these?
• You admire the company’s values;
• You’re aware of the culture and work environment and it’s exactly the kind of place where you would thrive;
• The hiring manager and/or HR recruiter were complimentary of you, your skills and your application;
• You didn’t just want that one job; you wanted to grow with that company.
• When they rejected you, they were kind, personal and respectful.
If all or most of those things are true, then there is no reason not to reapply for another job with that company.
But don’t apply again before you take these 5 steps:
1. Reach out and request feedback.
Follow up with the hiring manager or HR recruiter. Be sure to state the following:
• Your appreciation for the opportunity and for the time they took with you;
• Your continued admiration for the organization and desire to join it;
• Your commitment to learn where you fell short and what you can do to be the most highly qualified candidate the next time;
• Request feedback on your resume, your interview performance and their thoughts on other positions within the company for which you might be a great fit.
2. Ask yourself the same questions.
The truth is, unless you were a really close 2nd place, you might not get a lot of great feedback. (That’s not necessarily fair. But it’s very possible.) HR recruiters and hiring managers already have their hands full and your request for feedback might just keep falling to the bottom of the to-do list.
Fine. Look inward and conduct an inventory of everything you do know, first-hand. Review the job posting and compare it to your resume. How close was the match, really? Take out your interview notes. Reflect on how each interview went. How did you respond to tough questions? Did you provide solid examples of how you approach your work and achieve results? Did you remain professional the entire time? How was your body language? What did you say in your thank you emails?
3. Do your homework for next time.
Talk to others who work there and ask for their feedback on your current resume. Also ask them to describe the resumes, experience levels and work attitudes of people who have recently been hired. This not only gives you more information about the hiring process, it gives you greater insights about the workplace itself. After gathering this level of intelligence, you may well discover that they’re not your dream employer after all. Even more importantly, these kinds of ongoing conversations will extend your professional network in a meaningful way. (Just be sure to reciprocate when any of these people ask for your assistance in their own job search.)
4. Adjust accordingly.
Whatever you do, do not resubmit the same resume and cover letter you did the last time. Even if you think it was perfect, doing so makes you look stubborn or unwilling to learn. Use every bit of feedback and information you managed to gather and switch things up the next time. Edit your headlines and subheads. Make better use of keywords that resonate with this employer and the positions in which you’re interested. And don’t send anything without asking a few trusted outsiders to weigh in on what you’ve written.
5. Apply again – and acknowledge your prior application.
Be straightforward and make sure you don’t sound negative, defensive or resentful. Don’t grovel either, though. Instead, use words and phrases that highlight your optimism and eagerness to learn. “After interviewing for the marketing manager position with Jane Smith last July, I was extremely interested in joining Acme Manufacturing. Since then, I’ve taken all of your feedback to heart and put it into action. I’ve developed more large scale project management skills and proven them in a series of high profile projects.”
Keep in mind that your goal is to understand what separated you from the person who landed the job the last time. How big were those gaps? What skills or experiences were you lacking? What abilities or attitudes did you fail to demonstrate? Then do everything in your power to close every one of those gaps. If you’re the right fit – and if they’re such a great company – you deserve this opportunity. So pick yourself back up and go for it.