I've been rejected

I'm angry because I had a job that I'd been told by HR was mine but it was just waiting for senior-level approval to recruit me. That approval was turned down and HR wont give me any particular reason, except to say, "We haven't got approval to recruit you so can't make a formal offer". This was a dream job for me, the selection process was long and thorough and I thought final approval was a formality, so I'm very upset. I've heard that the job has now been offered to another candidate and I'm seriously considering legal action. Anyone any ideas on how to approach this?

Hello Amy, sorry to hear about your situation and I can understand how disappointed you must be feeling. Situations like yours are only made more frustrating when, afterwards, it becomes somewhere between hard and impossible to get any reasons out of the organisation.

It is tempting to lash out in any way possible, but my advice would be to have one final attempt to get some information on why you were turned down. If you really can't get anywhere, then put it behind you, learn what you can from the experience and move on.

Your chances of successful legal action are slim, at best, unless you have firm evidence of discrimination. In any case, if you're looking for your next job, the last thing you need is to be mentally mired in a historic situation that involves a virtually un-winnable battle. Devote your energies toward your next interview, not your last!

Try again to get some feedback on the reasoning. If you can't get a face to face meeting with someone, try 'unofficially' over the telephone. Keep things lower key by explaining that you’re so disappointed as it was a dream job and that you’re just looking for a clue, to help you in the future.

"Is there anything I could do better next time?" is a great question to ask as it's not carrying any implied criticism of the organisation and its rejection of you - it's looking forward. Using this to appeal to someone's sense of empathy might just get you some unofficial (i.e. undocumented, off the record, un-quotable) guidance.

Many organisations today refuse to give formal feedback on their reasoning due to fear of criticism or subsequent litigation. Unfortunately, giving nothing often simply drives paranoia and creates anger - not really a good advert for the organisation as a whole.

Good luck. I'd be interested to hear whether you get anything.

By Jon Gregory

Hi, Amy. I understand your frustration, too - I've had a number of job interviews that ended up not going anywhere. And you're right - I've heard from some of my colleagues, as well as from career coaches, that a candidate may be turned down for a job for some of the most bewildering reasons. (But it's as Jon said, a lot of companies are concerned about liability issues.) The best advice that I've heard - and I've done this myself - is to send your interviewer (whether it's an HR person or the office manager, etc.) a letter or email saying something along the lines of, "Thank you for letting me know about the outcome of the interview. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you on (interview date), and I understand and respect your decision." And then ask if there's any way to stay in contact (including asking to be introduced to other people that the interviewer works with), and let the interviewer know that you would be interested in being considered for future vacancies, should one come up. If you're really upset over the rejection letter/email, my suggestion would be to take a few deep breaths, or go outside and take a nice long walk. Then come back and send a response to the recruiter. More than anything else, keep going. (I've had to tell myself this quite often, believe me.)
By Erin M Roll