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Dear Real Recruiter,

If you're rejected from a position during the resume review stage, is it tacky to ask for an informational interview anyway—just in case something opens up later?

Defeated and Determined

Dear Defeated and Determined,

I’d encourage you to start by asking yourself: What do you have to lose?

Sure, you could run the risk of coming across as a little too persistent. But, the good news is that there are strategies you can use to mitigate that possibility.

So, I’d say to go for it and ask for that informational interview—but, go for it strategically, of course. There are a couple of things that I recommend you keep in mind.

1. Think Carefully About Who You Reach Out to

For starters, it’s best to ask someone other than the recruiter or the person who just sent you a rejection letter.

One, they may doubt your intentions and say no preventively (at one point I entirely stopped taking calls from people we had recently rejected).

Two, if you really want to gain more information about the company or position to help you in a future application, finding someone in the specific department you’re applying for is a better fit.

2. Have a Legitimate Reason

Obviously, one of your goals is to form relationships and increase your chances of landing a job there in the future.

But, that really shouldn’t be the primary reason you’re getting in touch—you need to have a worthwhile reason to speak to this person.

Informational interviews should not be used to ask for a job or convince someone to consider you for a future position. Prepare a list of questions about the company or the individual, and frame your ask to make it very clear why you want to speak to this specific person.

3. Be Honest

While you shouldn’t approach this person in hopes of them reconsidering your employment, it’s best to be upfront about the fact that you were recently rejected.

Being transparent helps you avoid coming across as if you’re trying to back channel your way into that job you wanted.

Remember, people agree to informational interviews because they want to help. Talking about our experience or company is a request almost all of us can grant, but a request to reconsider a candidate is something few people can make happen. If you’re clear about your intention, your likelihood of success will go up.

Putting it All Together

Hi Sarah,

I found your name on LinkedIn when searching for people who work in product at Netflix.

I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. Full transparency, I was recently rejected from a product manager position at Netflix.

Don’t worry, I’m not reaching out to ask you to reconsider. Instead, I saw on LinkedIn that you made the switch from non-profit to for-profit. I’m currently attempting to make that same jump and I wanted to ask about your experience and best practices for doing so.

I’d also love to know more about what working at Netflix is like and what makes someone successful there, so that I can better align my experience in a potential future application. Would you be open for a 30-minute phone call this week?

Thank you for considering,

You’ll note that Jane hit every point in this short, succinct email:

  • Reaching out to someone other than the recruiter: a person in product
  • Being transparent about the goals: “I’m not asking you to reconsider…”
  • Explaining why she wants to speak to Sarah: “I wanted to ask you about your experience…”

Consider this a template to writing your own. And remember that while it can seem a little awkward to ask for one with an employer who just rejected you, it’s not as out-of-the-norm as you might think—and it could be just what you need to score a position with that company next time!

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.

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