When you nail the final interview for a job you really want, it’s easy to start believing the gig is yours.

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When you nail the final interview for a job you really want, it’s easy to start believing the gig is yours.

But just when you are mentally high-fiving yourself, a suspiciously short email arrives. “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, we had many qualified applicants for the position and …” Wait, a form letter?

It’s hard to hear “I’m just not that into you,” and even worse when it comes from the gatekeeper to your dream job. While it’s tempting to put this whole experience behind you as fast as possible, there are a few things to consider when you didn’t get the job.

Follow up with the employer. “It’s important to figure out what went wrong,” says Jill Walser, a Bellevue-based career coach who helps individuals with job searches and application materials. Now is the time to be friendly and professional, even if it feels like an act. Ask for a quick chat to request two or three things that could have made you more competitive.

Getting an interview means you did something right. Remember that this is a learning experience and interviewing is a skill you can practice and improve. Focus on why you got excited about the job in the first place and then sit down to write a thank-you email or card that also lets the staff know you are still interested. They could call you again if the first-choice candidate doesn’t work out or when there are new openings.

Consider a new approach. “If you wait until a job is posted, sometimes that job can be broken in some way,” says Walser. “Maybe it’s a job with high turnover or … the manager is not so great. And now you are competing with 500 applicants.”

Odds are not stacked in your favor when applying without a personal connection, says Walser. Networking can be the most efficient way to get a job and it starts with making contact with a human. And many companies offer “referral bonuses” for their employees, so “it’s a motivating factor for them to talk with you, too.”

Be aware that there is a process involved in a job search. If you don’t know the steps, you can find yourself feeling very lost, says Daniel Kelley-Petersen, a Seattle mental health counselor in private practice who also works as a career counselor at Edmonds Community College. “There seems to be a significant mental health impact if things do not go according to our plan. We all have a certain idea of how the job search will go, and how long we think we will be at a particular job,” he says.

But experiencing a loss of energy, lack of focus or no longer feeling interested in things you used to enjoy are reasons to think about getting some outside support.

Let yourself grieve. Feel your feelings, says Walser. Give yourself time to accept the loss of something you cared about and reconcile all the energy you put into the process.

There is always a business reason for the decision, so keep in mind that it’s not personal, even if it feels that way.

Try to remember that the job was never really yours unless you had something in writing. And never tell a friend who didn’t get the job, “Don’t feel bad, you’ll find something else!” she cautions. Instead, try saying you support them and will be there no matter what.
Staff at local WorkSource offices often work closely with job seekers who are confused and upset when they didn’t get the job.

“Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. It takes a lot of energy to put yourself out there,” says Min Song, WorkSource’s interim chief operating officer. With eight WorkSource offices in the Seattle–King County area and more throughout the state, job clubs and networking groups are easy to find. Several WorkSource offices even provide on-site therapy support groups to help with career transitions and difficulties related to unemployment.