You’ve networked, LinkedIn-ed, cover-lettered, phone-screened, and rocked the interview at your dream startup. And yet, on the day you expected to get an offer, you instead got the dreaded email that contains the phrases “offer to another candidate” and “many qualified applicants.”
It’s never fun to not get a job you’re excited about, but getting passed up for a role doesn’t have mean kissing your dream startup goodbye. If you’re passionate about a company’s mission and want to be involved, here’s what to do next.
Follow up With the Hiring Manager
While it’s tempting to press "delete" on your email and never look back, you’ll do yourself a favor if you follow up with the hiring manager and ask for feedback. Many people are happy to provide pointers or let you know why another candidate was chosen for the role. This will not only help you prepare for future interviews, but will also give you information that can help with my next point:
Discuss Other Options at the Company
One of the most exciting things about working for a startup is that it’s growing—hopefully quickly!—and will be hiring again soon. A few months ago, we had two great candidates for one of our open positions at InstaEDU. We could only make one offer at the time, but when a new role on the same team opened up, we immediately made an offer to the candidate we’d passed on.
Maybe you didn’t get the customer support role you’d hoped for, but there might be a junior marketer position opening up that you’d be a better fit for. Be clear with the hiring manager about your passion for the startup and your interest in exploring other roles so you’ll be top of mind when the next position opens up.
Stay in Touch—Actively
If you see a TechCrunch story on funding, shoot the CEO a note and say congrats. If you know someone else who may be a good fit for an open position, make an introduction. Reaching out about something other than your own job hunt will reinforce that you’re passionate about the company and help you stay top of mind as new positions open up, both at that company and at companies the team is friendly with.
While these types of communication won’t necessarily get you a job immediately, they’re incredibly valuable in building up and maintaining your network. As many people say, life is long—and the startup world is small.
Chances are, you can’t wait around for the right job to come up, so as you think about the next step in your career hunt, consider what made the first startup so appealing to you. Was it the problem it’s trying to solve? Or the experience it provides to its customer or users?
Do some research and find companies with similar features. If you’ve built up a connection with Dream Company #1, there’s a good chance someone can introduce you to Dream Company #2.