You had your heart set on getting that job! It was your dream job. And they turned you down.

Disappointed? Yes. Crushed? Probably. Deflated? In all likelihood. A little despairing? Maybe. Curious? I urge you to adopt this attitude even as you are having all the other feelings. This might even be good news!

While you’re searching for your “right fit” job, you can gather useful information. Every interaction with the job market contains riches, if you know what to look for.

* If you apply for lots of jobs and get no response, that is a “market response.” The job market is saying “this material isn’t compelling enough to warrant further investigation.” It may also be saying “you are looking in the wrong area.” And it definitely is saying “Focus on making a match. Tell us why we should talk to YOU.”

I read about people who are unemployed for two years, who’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, with no response. That is inaccurate. They got a response, just not the one they wanted. The response of resounding silence tells me, and could tell them, that they need to use a different approach, or target different jobs. If your approach is not working, change it! One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Stop the insanity!

The goal of a resume is to get you an interview. Period. If you are not getting interviews in response to your resume, you need to redo your resume. And redo it again, until you start getting interviews.

Similarly, a cover letter’s job is to make the case for why you are a good match for the job in question. If you don’t get called for an interview, your cover letter may need to be rewritten. Every cover letter needs to be tailored to the specific job. Generic “to whom it may concern” letters DO NOT WORK.

* If you get interviews and no offers, the market is speaking loudly.

One possible message is that you need to improve your interview skills. That means:

  1. Getting fully prepared. Do you have ready answers for common and difficult interview questions? Do you know a fair amount about the company that’s hiring? Do you have questions for the employer? Have you practiced answering challenging questions until you are comfortable and confident in your answers? Do you have stories ready to illustrate your relevant experience and skills?
  2. Practicing being interviewed with someone who is kind of tough on you. It’s far better for you to be uncomfortable with your friend than to be surprised and flustered at an interview.

Practice really works. It gives you a chance to think through your answer before the interview, instead of at the interview. In my experience, unrehearsed answers are too long, rambling, off-point, and unimpressive. What employer will hire someone who doesn’t even do their homework for a job interview – arguably one of the most important events of their present life? If you don’t prepare for interviews, why would an employer think you’d be prepared at work?

You may also need to look at why you don’t interview well.

  • Are you really nervous? Lack of preparation eats away at one’s confidence. It’s impossible to be confident or exude confidence if you don’t know why you would be perfect for the job before you go into the interview. It helps even more if you know why the job may be perfect for you. And practice helps.
  • Have you applied for the wrong job? Sometimes, you can make the case in your mind and on paper, and then realize during the interview that this is not a good match. That’s excellent information to have. It means that you can refine your job search to jobs that more closely match your “must have list.”
  • Do you not like the interviewer? Culture is a critical aspect of any workplace, and your chances of being happy at work are often determined by the culture of the place. An interview is a fantastic place to gauge the culture. If you find yourself getting flustered or uncomfortable, that’s your gut telling you that this is not the right place for you. Pay attention!

These last two options are REALLY useful information. They mean that you can be thankful that you didn’t get an offer.