What to write after they’ve turned you down

by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ California

What to write after they’ve turned you down

MaryMichelleMooreFinding a library job can be a difficult process. Even if you are qualified, the interview went well and you did everything in your power to show you are the best candidate, sometimes all of your efforts are not enough and the hiring committee decides to go in another direction. However, this does not mean your correspondence with your dream library should end with their rejection letter.

While many sites offer advice on how to write cover letters, the pre-interview follow up letter and the thank you for the interview letter among others, the post-rejection thank you does not get much press. Why? Perhaps because it is the one letter you always hope you won’t have to write. Why should you write a thank you letter to a library that just rejected you? Well, for one, it is polite. Another reason is the library community can be strongly interconnected and you don’t know who may be willing to refer you to connections as a strong candidate for another opening. Lastly, you may want to apply in the future for that library, or to work with that director, and it is best not to burn bridges. Just because you were not their first choice this time does not mean that you are not a desirable candidate or that they will not consider you in the future.

1)  By sending a thank you note expressing your disappointment but continued interest in the library, you will have left a favorable memory in the manager’s mind. If the first choice candidate does not work out, another position becomes available, or if they know of a position opening with one of their contacts, the hiring manager may contact you with the opportunity over someone who did not step aside graciously.

2)  The final thank you note does not have to be long and should adhere to a basic form. First, address it to the hiring manager or the person in charge of the final decision. If the rejection notice came from more than one person address the letter to both individuals. The first sentence or two should express your disappointment about not receiving the position, be sincere but brief. Next, congratulate them on finding a successful candidate and express your continued interest in the organization. Thank them again for their time in meeting with you.

3)  In the next paragraph, ask for feedback on how to be a stronger candidate in the future. Be aware that some employers may have a policy no feedback policy or the manager may be too busy, but it will never hurt to ask. At this point, you should express your interest in staying in touch with the hiring manager – ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media or plan to follow up at some point in the future to see if they have a possible job opening. End on a hopeful, positive note that expresses your continued interest in the organization.

Often the reasons behind a job rejection have less to do with you as a candidate and more to do with the other people who applied and the process of finding the right person to fill a position can be a daunting task for employers as well as for job seekers. By sending a final note after a rejection letter, you show hiring managers that you understand the work they put into the hiring process, show your desire to work at the institution, and express an interest in maintaining a new network contact. This letter also serves as a way to request feedback on your performance in the interview process and allows you to have some closure after the disappointment of not getting the desired job.

Further Reading!

How to respond to a job rejection – and even make it work for you by Alison Green

The Letter to Write When You Don’t Get the Job by Lisa Vaas

Resources for sample letters

A letter to send when you don’t get the job offer you really hoped for by Tom Dezell

Ask a Manager: Responding graciously to a job rejection by Alison Green

Sample Thank You Note after being rejected for an internship or job by Penny Loretto

How to Send a Letter after Not Getting a Job by Damarious Page, Demand Media

  2 comments for “What to write after they’ve turned you down

  1. Whitney Z.
    March 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    This is actually very true indeed. I ran into two similar situations, even though they weren’t necessarily library jobs. The first was my first interview for a museum position out of grad school. I had made it all the way to the final round and didn’t get the job. But I maintained contact, and ended up volunteering for them later on. The other experience was I got offered the job with a publishing company, but I couldn’t accept the position at that time, but again I maintained good relations, and when an opening came up last July, they called me up. This time, I was able to accept it!

  2. Meredith
    March 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Not much closure when they respond that HR rules do not allow them to give feedback. I haven’t burned that bridge, but I don’t think I am going to cross that bridge either. I have been one of the final 2-3 candidates for the same position twice in the last three years.

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