Dealing With Disappointing Job News

Q.  After two months of interviews and favorable feedback that suggested I would be offered a job, I received a phone call yesterday saying I didn’t get the job.  I was stunned, so I said I was extremely disappointed and thanked her for calling.  Afterwards, I had a thousand “why not me?” questions.  I realized I did a lousy job of handling my disappointment, and I may have been a little angry.  Of course, I’d now like some constructive feedback but fear I’ve burned that bridge.  Advice?

A.  We’ve all been there.  In fact, I gave a similar response recently when I was told that a pending offer on my house that’s been on the market for more than a year was retracted in favor of another property.  Afterwards, I looped back to the Realtor and got valuable feedback from the prospective buyers.  Jean Palmer Heck, author of Tough Talks in Tough Times, says receivers of bad news don’t necessarily hear the message being sent.  Sometimes they are relieved with the lack of immediate follow-up questions.  Like the questions anticipated in an interview setting, job seekers need to have questions in mind once they hear back from employers whether they’re hired or turned down for a job. 

 In your case, rou should call the person who gave you the disappointing news and apologize for what may have been an abrupt response on your part, citing your momentary disappointment.  Then ask for insights that might help you in your continuing search for a position.  Follow up with a hand-written thank you note; this will separate you from other disappointed applicants since very few people ever send notes after receiving such new. 

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