I recently starting rewatching my favourite noughties show “The Gilmore Girls” in preparation for the upcoming revival. There’s an episode where young Rory Gilmore receives undeservedly critical feedback from her boss at the end of her newspaper internship (he also happens to be her boyfriend’s dad). Watching this again, I remembered how angry I got when he callously tells her that she hasn’t got the talent to succeed in journalism. The truth is that she is talented and the old snob was clearly trying to undermine her to make it clear that she did not fit in to his or his son’s upper class world. Rory knows this but it didn’t stop her confidence being shattered which led her to go off the rails and leave university.
But as much as I can get caught up in the lives of my TV friends from Stars Hollow, Connecticut, I know that the reality is that employers are not total meanies and would not give students or graduates an internship with the aim of destroying your confidence at the end of it. Most employers will strive to provide constructive feedback throughout your internship in order to develop and invest in you.
Where the issue of employer feedback may be more frustrating for you is often the absence of feedback when applying for a job, especially at the application
stage. This is because most employers just don’t have the time to give feedback to unsuccessful applicants as they receive so many applications. So as an unsuccessful applicant, many people are left feeling disappointed and confused about why they didn’t get shortlisted to the next stage.
Was my application not good enough?
Actually, in many cases it may have been just as good as the shortlisted applicants but as this is a numbers game, luck comes into play and lots of suitable applicants lose out but don’t get to find out why.
How do I deal with an absence of feedback?
If you do get rejected after sending what you believed to be a good application, I suggest you book a Quick Coaching appointment with a careers adviser to get feedback.
We may tell you that your application was good enough and I know this is frustrating to hear when it didn’t get you to an interview, but at least you can feel confident that you are presenting yourself well and hopefully next time you will be one of the lucky ones who gets shortlisted.
Or we might give you a few tips to improve your application so that you know how to make it better for next time*.
* A little tip that might help you stand out from the crowd is, where possible, to contact the employer before you submit your application to introduce yourself and ask a few more questions about the post. It always works in your favour to be a ‘known quantity’ when the employer has a large number of applications. Many employers invite you to contact them in the vacancy details and large scale recruiters’ contact detials can be found on their recruitment pages or social media
At the interview stage it is more likely (but not always the case) that the employer will give feedback. Sometimes this can be really useful in helping you to ‘up your game’ to prepare for your next interview.
On other occasions, they may give generic feedback that doesn’t really tell you anything specific about why you were not the successful candidate. So I think you can assume from this that it went fairly well.
But if I did well, why didn’t I get the job?
Or they tell you that you did really well and were definitely appointable but someone else did slightly better so they got the job. This happens a lot as there will often be more than one person who makes a great impression but if there is only one job, inevitably some good applicants will be left disappointed. But take heart, you obviously know how to perform well in interviews so tell yourself that next time you will be the successful one.
Grin and bear it!
So however frustrated you feel inside, try not to show it when an employer says they can’t give feedback on your application and remind yourself that they probably feel bad about this but just couldn’t find the time to offer it to all applicants.
And try to be gracious in receiving feedback if you are an unsuccessful candidate – you never know when there may be another job going with that employer!