There may not be something more discouraging than having three great rounds of interviews for a job that you really wanted and then finding out that you came in 2nd place. However, if that happens, you need to make sure that your discouragement doesn’t immobilize you. There are still some important things that you need to do in regard to that job. Here are some ideas for you.
- Send a “Thank You for Not Hiring Me” letter to the Hiring Manager. While the title I’ve used for that letter has a facetious element to it, your letter needs to come off as very professional. Re-express your intense interest for the job, your disappointment that you didn’t get hired, that you understand that the Hiring Manager needs to hire the person he/she felt was best qualified, and express your appreciation for being given serious consideration.
- Then, about 5-10 days later, get some feedback as to “why” you came in 2nd place. It is difficult to do because most Hiring Managers will think you want to still pester them about getting the job, but try every time, anyhow. If you sent a letter with a professional tone (like what I suggested above) beforehand, you will increase the chance that the Hiring Manager will take your call and give you some candid feedback. An innocent question you can start off with is “I plan on pursuing other opportunities. Can you give me feedback as to how I conducted myself that will improve my chances with other employers?”
- Then, ask the hiring manager if he/she knows of any other opportunities within his/her company or elsewhere that you might be interested in. Think of it now as a networking opportunity.
- Call the person who was #1 and got hired. Congratulate him and ask what other job openings he knows about. They may be opportunities for you, now.
- Call the Hiring Manager again a couple weeks later. Ask if the person who accepted the job ever showed up? Or did he/she already leave the company? You would be amazed at the number of times that other job seekers get hired and never show up or aren’t with the employer for more than a few weeks.
Stick with it. You only fail when you give up trying.