Your interview went well and you did everything correctly, but you still received that letter or phone call stating that you weren't chosen for the position. This will happen. Not every job is for you, and not every interview will result in a job offer.
However, you can still use a thank you letter to your advantage. First, it helps to avoid burning any bridges. Second, if you're still interested in the company, you can express this in your letter. Third, you never know if the person who takes the job will work out, so if you're a close second, you have yet another chance to put your name in front of the hiring committee and project a positive image.
Here's what you can do. Thank the interviewer(s) for the time invested in meeting you. Express your best wishes for the company, and, if appropriate, state that you're still interested in working with the company. You may want to ask that your information be kept on file and that you appreciate being notified of any related openings in the future.
Maintaining your professionalism on all levels is important. You never know what might happen in the future. You could be referred to another opportunity by the people who turned you down. Interviewers have been known to send their "second choices" to their network contacts. Just because you're not an exact match for one position does not mean that the people who have "rejected" you do not know of the perfect opportunity somewhere else. Keep those contacts open!
Many people enjoy helping others when they can, and it works to the advantage of all involved. If someone recommends you for another position, you'll remember that person’s name, and perhaps at some point you'll be able to return the favor.
Further, think of thank you letters and other correspondence as not only polite, but also ongoing opportunities to network and build relationships. When you have a clear purpose in mind, the corresponding process can be an enjoyable and productive one.
This post was adapted from the new The Vault Guide to Resumes and Job-Hunting Skills.
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