Handling a “Decline” When Job Searching

Jan 2, 2023 | Job Search, Self-Care

Handling a “Decline” When Job Searching 

As a Career Coach, I’m consistently trying to find the best way to work through the dreaded “Decline” email. You prepared, applied and went through the interview(s) with great hopes, and then boom, the “Decline”!

On a regular basis, I hear questions or comments that break my heart: “I guess I’m not good enough”, “I felt so good about this, what did I do wrong?”, or the worst, “I give up…”.

For starters, you are good enough. You just may not have been the right fit for a variety of reasons. Your value as an employee and a person are NOT based on the opinions of others. Yes, we want to be a “good fit,” but not being a good fit for a work position does not degrade the person that you are. 

It can feel degrading when you are declined for positions, especially when you receive multiple declines. Keep in mind that if you went through the interview process, that is a huge leap in the right direction. If you just applied and received the decline, just keep on moving.

I take my clients through a brief overview of the position and the company.

Culture Fit

  • These are the values, beliefs, outlook, and behaviors that are compatible with those existing within the organization. Culture fit is huge with companies and should be with you as well. If it doesn’t feel like an environment that you can thrive in, you will not be happy; You may have missed the proverbial bullet. 

Requirements and Desired Skills

  • If you met all the requirements, but maybe not all the added “desired” or “plus” skills, that may have put another candidate ahead of you. If you are missing basic requirements in your career field, consider some online education. There are a lot of resources that are at no charge. If a position is more involved than that, you may need to look for a company that is willing to train you or look at a different field.


  • How did you feel during and after the interview? Were you prepared? Did you remember to bring copies of your Professional Resume for the Interviewers? How were you dressed? Yes, you always need to prep a little bit and know about the company before your interview. Were there any questions that you didn’t care for the way you answered?
  • Interview Training is training our brain and our mouth to coincide; If you do not prepare and train yourself, even the basic do’s and don’ts fly out the window when you are pressured in the interview. You must train to compete in any chosen environment, interviewing is no different. If you are not prepared to interview and are winging it, you will get passed by candidates that are polished, ready and hungry for that job.


  • How was the pay range brought up and your response? If it is a huge cut in pay for you, you can compromise, but count on job searching down the road. You will not be happy knowing that you are being underpaid.

Reach Out

  • If you are able, follow up with the hiring team member that emailed you. Hopefully you already did the needful and sent a “Thank You” after your interview. Ask them what areas you should try to improve on to be considered in the future. When phrased properly, you may be happily surprised at the responses that you receive. You weren’t chosen, so the answers may not feel great, however, it will give you some direction. 

No matter where you land in the process or how you are feeling now, you are not out of the game! It’s okay to be bummed, or frustrated. Be mad for a few minutes and then get back up, dust yourself off and try again.

The reason behind your decline is not personal Try to see your value through the eyes of the people in your life that care about you, they are your “home team”!


“The Sun doesn’t know that it’s a Star!” – Unknown

Lynn Kindler

Written By: Shauna Severin, CPRW, CDCS, Senior Career Strategist

Shauna Severin is one of our talented Senior Career Strategists. She helps clients do better and feel better as they search for that next ideal role. She has a knack for working with people and could find common ground with just about anyone!

Going through her own career and industry changes, she can completely relate to her clients, which helps drive her passion and hone her skills in career development.

She genuinely enjoys helping people find the job that offers them true balance and purpose and loves the challenge of presenting each person’s unique skills.