4 Steps to Take if You Didn't Get a Job Offer

Nancy Anderson
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Job offers are never guaranteed, no matter how hard you work to impress hiring managers. It can take a long to time to notice any return on investment in a job search because most of the hiring process is beyond your control. Although it's hard to accept, rejection is a possibility whenever you take risks. Learn to gain strength from rejection, so you can bounce back when you don't get a job offer.

1. Confront Your Feelings, and Move On

Losing out on a job offer is hard. You probably feel as though you're getting nothing back after devoting so much time and energy to making the right impression. Confront those feelings of disappointment, and take time to heal. Just don't do it in a public way that could sabotage your future efforts. Avoid venting on social media or with anyone in your network who might be connected to the company. You also don't want to lose motivation and end up settling for the wrong job. To stay focused, give yourself a specific amount of time to grieve, such as a few days or a week. Commit to moving on afterward, instead of dwelling on the setback.

2. Let Yourself Off the Hook

Accept what you can't control. Any attractive job has an excess of applicants with great qualifications. On top of that, politics within a company often determine which candidates have the best chance. Many employers hire from within or get referrals from trusted contacts, and hiring freezes could halt the entire process. Looking at the whole picture, your chances of getting a job offer are often slim, regardless of your qualifications. You shouldn't feel like a failure when you aren't chosen, because you're beating the odds whenever you succeed.

3. Consider How to Improve

Try to gain insight from every experience in the hiring process, so you can keep improving. Think about how well you provided and gathered information. Did you ask enough questions about the job? Did you explain how you solve business pain? Did you clear up any misgivings the hiring manager had about choosing you? You don't want to get stuck replaying every moment in your head, but consider how you can strengthen your efforts going forward. If you skipped out on a thank-you note last time, commit to going the extra mile in the future.

4. Reinforce Your Goals

Thankfully, missing out on a job offer doesn't put you back at square one. Every interview you aced and connection you made brings you closer to landing a new opportunity. Stay in touch with hiring managers when you're serious about working for a particular company. Once you have a good rapport, employers are more likely to reach out again if another job opens up or the new hire doesn't work out. Otherwise, reflect on what you did and didn't like about the company, so you can refine your list of target employers. A competitor company may have a work culture that's better suited to your skills and personality.

Job hunting is rarely linear, which is why you should leverage relationships. Think of your search as a web with larger and larger circles of influence. The more you connect with people, the closer you get to winning the job offer of your dreams.

Photo courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Maureen W. thanks for your comment. Sadly most companies will not tell you why they did not hire you other than the canned "Although you were a great candidate, we hired someone else.... blah, blah." Gets frustrating for sure. Did you talk to the recruiter who submitted you for the position? The company will usually convey to the recruiter why they turned you down. Otherwise, you just have to pick yourself up and move on the the next interview. The interview that you went on wasn't a waste. Consider it as training for THE perfect position for you.


    I recently interviewed with a very reputable company. A company whose mission and vision I align with. The interview went very well, I thought. However, I noticed that the interviewer was not taking any notes, so when I was asked if I had any questions, I mentioned that I noticed that she wasn't taking down any notes. At the end of the interview, the interviewer told me that she didn't have any business cards to give me even though we were right there in her office. Needless to say, I really did not believe her but said nothing. She also informed me that I should communicate all my questions through the recruiter. I must admit that right there and then I knew that I did not get the job. However, I hoped that I was wrong, because the overall interview went very well. I also sent the interviewer a thank you email because I thought it would show my initiative and how interested I was in the job. During the interview I asked a couple of questions about the onboarding process, and their performance expectations for the position. She made it seem that I was very qualified and it would not take a long time for me to fit it because of my experience. I know I have to move on from this experience, but if I did something wrong I would also like to know, because I honestly think that I should have gotten the job. Could someone please advise. Thank you.

  • A.S. D.
    A.S. D.

    Nancy, Thanks for your concern.

  • Paul B.
    Paul B.

    Great advice not to focus on what you don't have control over, instead focus your energy next potential opportunity.

  • christine r.
    christine r.

    Good advice!

  • Mohamed Said Azab A.
    Mohamed Said Azab A.

    Thanck You verymutch You are absolutally Wright , I have over 37 years Experiance in my Field work as a Public Health Doctor , and I can't work for it , so I have to find a knew one in the future , I have 72 years but I don't give up.

  • Mohamed Said Azab A.
    Mohamed Said Azab A.

    Thank you verymutch forthis valuable advice.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Michelle S - have you considered going through a recruiter who specializes in your area of expertise? Sometimes that is the answer as they know what the hiring companies are looking for and wouldn't send you on an interview when the company is requesting entry level only or something along those lines. That might be the best bet. Recruiters can really help. @Robert L.W. you are so right. You must have a game plan going into this - especially if you are in the "older" category. When you have an interview, are you sending a handwritten thank you note? I find that it's best to do it right after the interview - even before I drive away from the building. Then I can drop it in a mailbox and be on my way. Could make a world of difference. Also, make sure that you are following up with hiring manager. Make sure you get a business card so that you have his complete contact. Make sure that you are asking for the next steps and when they are going to make a decision. Ask if he will notify you either way. That kind of puts them on the spot. One last thing - make sure that you are networking. Get in touch with old coworkers and ask them if they know of any position in their company. Ask if you could send them your resume. Look around your community for networking events. With the weather starting to get warmer now for most of us, networking events will happy more often as many times they are sort of meet and greets during happy hour. And, if you have sent out 200 resume like Christina M.S. and still no job - maybe it's time to rethink your resume. If it's not opening doors for you, maybe you need to go back to the beginning and start over.

  • Stuart H.
    Stuart H.

    Michelle S. --- You are exactly right! I have over twenty years experience in my field and have been running into the same scenario for two years! Over qualified and over fifty!

  • Michelle S.
    Michelle S.

    I have been looking for a job for 2 years. I have never felt so rejected and depressed. I have had several interviews that I thought went well and never heard back from the interviewer. At my age I am stable, responsible , honest reliable and experienced. I have been living off my savings and retirement funds and can't go on much longer. With a bachelors degree and 30 years work experience I am not far from going to food banks for groceries. I hope something happens soon. God bless all of you who are great people but have lost value in this crazy job market due to age. Good luck everyone.

  • Didier CATENARO
    Didier CATENARO

    Didier C. Je suis français et je vis en France actuellement. Je souhaite partir vers de nouveaux horizons aus US pour y travailler pleinement. Je suis motivé et cela est dur compte tenu de mon éloignement et trouver une entreprise souhaitant me faire confiance en me proposant un visa... Il faut du courage, en 6 mois j'ai obtenu 1 seul réponse (juste pour me donner du courage dans mes recherche). Malgré mes bonnes expériences et diplômes. Courage et persévérance :)

  • Robert L. W.
    Robert L. W.

    Strong and Insightful article. Very well said and to the point. As a new member of the Ageism category, I believe points 3 & 4, “Consider how to improve”, and “Reinforce your Goals” for this category is important for several reasons.
    A. There is no denying age plays a major role in the decision process of hiring managers. It all depends on right fit for the current culture. Therefore, us Ageism folks, will need to continuously reinvent tweak and execute ways to improve our marketability. This is achieved by placing your profile on multiple job postings outlets, connecting with Hiring manager via the job postings or connecting with a resource on the inside of the company you are applying to, networking (job fairs) as well as scheduling face to face meetings with folks in the industry you can bounce ideas off of to enhance your efforts.
    B. Establish a “game plan” and keep the plan dynamic enough to adjust to the current claimant while at the same time not giving up on the plan. Build a continues plan to succeed in the ever changing market place of talent no matter what level of experience you are. The “Ageism” folks have the experience, now we just need to execute stronger than the next candidate.

    Again just to reinforce. If your pumping out 200+ resumes and not getting at least a 3% success rate or higher it’s time to adjust the points aforementioned.


    Check out Mature Services and Encore as baby boomers, our experience counts for nothing in the workplace it is skills and creativity and problem solving that hiring managers are looking for. We have to create or reinvent our own path at this juncture in our life.

  • Christine M. S.
    Christine M. S.

    No one we will give me a chance and I am 50 also my résumé has been done a professional service.

  • Christine M. S.
    Christine M. S.

    I have just received a response from my first interview in over 25 years same answer we are going in a different direction I have sent out over 200 resumes how can this not be frustrating as I am changing careers with a degree in health care and

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Michele A thanks for your comment. So very true that they don't have to tell you why you didn't get hired. I sometimes wonder if it's better to just not hear anything from them or to get a form letter - thanks but we chose another candidate? Either way it makes it hard when you know that you are more than qualified for the position. I am thinking that you might have scared them off since you have so much experience. I agree that maybe a smaller company, where you might even be able to wear more than one hat, would be a good fit. So very hard to prove ageism unless they actually say something that could be construed as ageism.. such as the job requires a lot of late hours - a lot of stamina... that could be construed as turning you away because of your age? And you are absolutely right - God never closes a door without opening a window! All the best on your next great adventure.


    Ageism has kept me looking for a new job for 3 years. I get chosen for a second interview, ace it and then receive notification that they've "decided to go in a different direction". I'm sure that means "a different generation". There have been way too many jobs that I was perfect for, had tons of experience, wasn't asking for too much, but still didn't get. Most of these were with large companies. So my search now is with smaller firms who are really looking for a good fit regardless of age. Even though we have the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), it really doesn't do much. Hiring managers can decide to "go in a different direction" and get away with it since the excuse is so vague. But, I'm not giving up hope. I think the perfect position will come along at the right time. Not that I'm really religious, but I think the saying fits "when God closes a door, he opens a window". So stay strong and don't ever give up!!

  • Tri N.
    Tri N.

    Thank you

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. Ageism certainly is alive and well but it's probably not anymore prevalent today than it was 40 years ago when we were the 25-35 age group and could walk into an interview and walk out with a job. But those gray-haired folks who were waiting for their interview were sizing us up and thinking - oh man, they are never going to hire me now. Ageism isn't new. It's been around forever. Just ask some of your older relatives. Is there a way to combat it? You can do the best that you can to make yourself look younger but it doesn't really fool them. They have your resume. And even though current wisdom says to only put the past 10 years on your resume - it's not fooling anyone. If you can prove that it was ageism, you can try a lawsuit. But we all know how those will turn out. You can't prove that they didn't hire you because of your age. They will just say that you were impressive but Candidate B had a certain technological experience that we didn't have, etc. @Arlene W - never sit and wait for them to get in touch. Even if you think that you aced the interview and that's there's no way they can turn you away - continue your job search. One way that I have found that could work is that, when I am saying my goodbyes and asking when I can expect to hear from them, I mention that I have another interview with XYZ Company in the morning and, if they are interested in me, they need to let me know prior to that. If they say something like good luck on your interview, I know that I won't be getting that job. Doesn't always work but I have found that it puts a bit of pressure on them. Look, I know that the article isn't anything new but neither is ageism. The only difference between the time when your parents were our age and now is that we have instant communications - we have social media and can get the word out - can talk to each other about how upset we are that we didn't get a job for which we were qualified. Our parents didn't have this so you didn't really hear so much about it. @William R it is possible that the ATS is passing by our resumes because the company decided that they didn't want to have someone older than X. The company sets the requirements that they are looking for and then, when resumes are coming in, the applicant tracking software will accept or reject based upon that criteria. Of course we don't know what criteria was set. Some companies set their application so that, when they ask for your HS grad date, it only goes back to say 1985. Game over. All we can do is make ourselves look as appealing as possible both in our resume and in our appearance when we go on the interview. Then we can let our experience and desire for the position do the rest.

  • Arlene W.
    Arlene W.

    I have gotten interviews with several potential employers that went extremely well. However, I was not chosen.. The worst part is not getting a courtesy response from the interviewer. The sooner I know their decision, the better I can prepare for my next strategic move. Still keeping my fingers crossed. ☺

  • Renee B.
    Renee B.

    Age discrimination is out there in Full force - I have had interviews that went very well and never an offer. I could fit the job exactly. At 60 I don't want to retire. I've worked in an office all my years so retail jobs aren't accepting me either no experience. C'mon.

  • Lynn K.
    Lynn K.

    This really doesn't even hit the surface of ageism!!! Do you know what it feels like to sit with an unemployment counselor and have them tell you that " you past your expiration date!" I was 46.... I don't need to be told what's above and feel it's rather condescending to print! When I have head hunters send jobs and I apply, I lie and say I'm 10 years younger to get them to look at my resume!!! That's only the beginning....

  • Stephanie Bey
    Stephanie Bey

    Great Article

  • Mary M.
    Mary M.

    This does not address ageism at all. This is a rehash of common knowledge and fancified platitudes, waste of my time.

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