Handling Rejection – Who gets the last word?

Q. I have a Ph. D. in life sciences and have been having a terrible time trying to find work. I finally got an interview with a fantastic, internationally renowned organization. I am qualified and know it would be a job I would excel at.

I had an initial phone interview with two of the top three executives/CEOs, and it went well. They flew me in for my second interview. I felt that these were good panel interviews – each an hour long – but sometimes you think it went well and perhaps it didn’t.

I followed up with an email to all members I interviewed with, and I also sent a follow-up email to the CEOs I initially met. I was told that they would let me know their plans next week. Fast forward – it has been over a month, and no response. No email, letter, or phone call to let me know that they went in a different direction.


I find this extremely rude behavior for an organization of this caliber. How do I word a letter stating my feelings? – I want to point out that it is clear they have gone a different direction and I was not chosen, and that while I am disappointed in their notification process, I wish them the best.

A. Job seekers who are accomplished and degreed, as you are, still face disappointment and frustration in the job search. I am not sure you have taken this into account as an expected part of the process. Your frustration is understandable, and how you choose to deal with that feeling is important. You might consult a previous Job Doc article that I wrote on January 8th, 2009, titled Why No Updates After Job Interview?, for ideas on why this happens.

In your next interview, you will need to create a situation that ensures you can get feedback. This is within your control. Throughout interview processes, candidates are encouraged to develop relationships with all people involved in the search process, not just the most senior people. Early on, you probably spoke with the assistants to these senior staff members. Make valuable use of these interactions. They have access to a great deal of information, and are typically more accessible. Make sure you engage these people in your process. Ask about them, their lives, their jobs, and their responsibilities in the interview process. Ask their permission to call them if you need help or information.


Through these conversations, you will be able to follow up with assistants and receptionists after any step in the process –whether you want to learn how to submit for expense reimbursement, or find out where in the decision process the company is. You can call to ask if there is a best time to reach the person you would like to speak to, or if it easier to schedule a call. There are many reasons for a lack of follow up on the part of a company – plans change, perhaps they made an offer and want to wait to see if it was accepted. Burning any bridge, whether you feel it is justified or not, may feel better in the short term, but can cause long term damage to your search.

The reality is that you don’t need to send a “final” letter. It may provide you some “closure”, but you are really looking for the last word, which will not serve you well in this process.

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