By Kathleen Furore

You have finished a job interview, feel you’ve done well and are anxiously awaiting an offer. And then you get the call/email/text/letter saying you haven’t been hired. You’re feeling rejected but want to make sure your response doesn’t hurt your chances if a position for which you’re qualified opens up down the road. It has happened to most of us. The question is, “How should you respond?”

The first thing to remember is that a rejection letter doesn’t necessarily mean you were at the bottom of the hiring barrel, says Jessica Zweig, CEO of the personal branding company SimplyBe. Agency.

“When you get that rejection letter, you have no idea where in the pile you fell. You might have been at the bottom, or you might have been the second choice, you don’t know,” Zweig stresses.

In fact, the best thing you can do it to not assume the worst!

“You have to assume that you were high up in the running,” says Zweig, who recommends being proactive in your response to the rejection.

“Send a well-written and gracious follow-up email letting the company know you support their decision and you are rooting for them and their future success,” she says.

What should you do in that follow-up note? Zweig offers this advice:

Be personable. “Write the email as though you are a colleague or a friend to the business,” she says.

Be specific. Do you recall a particularly interesting anecdote or detail about the company from the interview? Include a reference to it in your letter. “This proves that you were really listening to what they said and that it mattered to you,” Zweig says.

Be flattering. Don’t make it about how you feel – make it all about them. “Congratulate them on their growth or on a recent win,” Zweig stresses. “You want to leave as positive a reflection as you can because people get remembered for bold acts.”

Be engaged. Communicate your continued interest in the company. “Let them know that you’ll be actively following them on all of their social media channels. This provides you an opportunity to remain top-of-mind,” says Zweig. In fact, she says there have been times when a new position opened up and a candidate she had interviewed previously came to mind because they had remained engaged with the company on social media.

Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at kfurore@yahoo.com.

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