What not to do when you don't get the job

With job applications come job rejections. They are inevitable in a world were applicants outnumber available positions. It is frustrating and sometimes frightening and no one blames you for wanting to throw something at the wall when you get rejected yet again. And feel free to do so, as long as it's something soft, not staining, there are no humans, animals or breakable objects in the way and you're alone. I recommend something by Nerf.

Here's what not to do. Email the recruiter or hiring manager(s) back and tell them they've made a mistake. A friend of mine, who recently filled a position, sent me this note she received from a rejected candidate: "That's sad to hear. I did my homework on [job] and thought i was a prime candidate. Thank you for your time."

What's wrong with that? Leaving aside the uncapitalized "i" in the second sentence (why, oh, why can't auto correct fix something useful like that?), you can just hear the bitterness pouring through. I almost could feel the "curse you" implied at the end.

Now, the note would be fine if he had just skipped the second sentence. A note of "That's sad to hear. Thank you for your time," is fine. An even better note would state, "I'm disappointed, of course. I remain interested in working for [company]. I hope you'll consider me for any future position that are a good match for my skills. Thank you for your time."

But that middle sentence stating that he did his homework and therefore was a prime candidate implies that the hiring manager has messed up in not speaking with this fine candidate. (My friend tells me he didn't make it to the interview stage.) Here's the thing. Maybe he's right and he should be a prime candidate for the job. Maybe he's fabulous. Maybe they really messed up and hired the wrong person. But...(and you knew there would be a but) when you apply for a job you don't know any of that.

Yes, you can see if your skills match the job description. You can even go down a checklist and mark off everything you have. It can be a 100 percent match. It can be a 150 percent match and you know what? You may still not be the best candidate that applied. You may still not be in the top 5 that they interview.

You have no idea who else has applied. You don't know if it's one of those job postings that are up because HR makes managers post every job, even when they already know precisely who they are going to hire. (Yes, that happens and it shouldn't, but it does.) You just don't know. And so, responding with anything that implies that they made the wrong choice, or didn't notice your fabulous skills, may make you feel better, but it also puts you on the "do not reconsider" list.

Did you know that companies have those? Oh yes, they do. Sometimes the lists are formal, but those are generally reserved for people who have been fired from the company previously. Most of the time, they just sit in the recruiter's head, or as a note in cryptic form in the applicant's (electronic) file. But, mark my words, those lists exist. And you don't want to be on one.

Most companies (especially large ones) will have multiple positions that could fit your skill set over the next year. You may be considered for another position that pops up, but not if you tell the recruiter and hiring manager that they made mistakes the first time around. So, throw that Nerf Ball at the wall, but keep your emails to the recruiter polite.