Most of the time when we apply for freelance writing jobs, we don’t hear back from the person hiring if they didn’t think we were a good fit. Sometimes, though, the potential client actually does get in touch to let us know that we won’t be working together on the project.
I used to think that it would be better if they didn’t get in touch at all. After a certain amount of time has passed, my attention has move on to other things and I’ve forgotten all about the job in question. There have been a few jobs that I have applied for that I really, really wanted to get that I didn’t. And when you get the word, it may sting slightly or it might throw your confidence off for awhile. (I actually cried over one “Thanks but no thanks” e-mail I received. Then I briefly thought about running off to join the Foreign Legion and forgetting all about this freelance writing thing…..)
Over time, I have learned to have a better perspective about all the jobs that I didn’t get. I started thinking of them in baseball terms: not a strikeout, but more like a foul ball. I didn’t get in, but it doesn’t mean that I totally suck. After all, the person doing the hiring was courteous enough to take the time to let me know.
I make a point of responding to these e-mails to thank the person for taking the time to consider me. I let them know that they can get in touch with me if their needs change. If I’m feeling particularly bold, I ask them if they know anyone else who may be looking for a writer .
This tactic has worked. I’ve gotten hired months later for a different project and I have received good job leads from people who didn’t hire me themselves.
Let me finish off this post about dealing with rejection by sharing a portion of an e-mail I received recently to let me know that I didn’t get the gig I had applied for:
Although you did not make the pool, let it not be said that it is in no way a criticism of you as a writer. Writing is subjective and it is very much a matter of the right piece at the right time.
Besides, nine times out of ten the editors are morons. I should know. 😉
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Andy Hayes says
LOL, I couldn’t have said it better msyelf either!
The only thing I would add is that, unless the contributors’ guidelines say otherwise, there is nothing stopping you to send a friendly and succinct “follow-up” email to a contact you have not heard from.
Not once but twice this worked in my favour, as the editor had lost my email or never saw it in the first place. It certainly can’t hurt. But if you don’t hear back on the 2nd email, then cut your losses and move on to the next one.
@ Andy: There is nothing wrong with checking in after the fact to see if something has changed. Sometimes the person that gets hired doesn’t work out for one reason or another.
Misti Sandefur says
I usually always follow-up on a gig I applied to if I haven’t heard anything in two weeks (I set an e-mail reminder to remember 😉 ), and I’ve landed the gig a few times by doing this. However, it never crossed my mind to reply and thank the person for considering me, so thanks for sharing this great piece of advice, Jodee.
You can also write back and ask for tips to improve your future applications, particularly if a reason for rejection wasn’t mentioned. You won’t always get a response, but sometimes you will. (However, if you do get a reply, please just thank the editor for the comments instead of arguing with them, so the rest of us can keep asking for critiques in the future.)
Stacie Haight Connerty says
Another tip that I do and has worked for me several times is to apply for a job that has been filled months ago. Not really apply but if I see something posted months ago that I think really fit my skill set or interests, I write them and tell them exactly this. Something along the lines of “I saw this position listing from months ago and I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to apply. If anything comes up again, please consider me. Thanks again!”
I do this several times a month on something that I missed. It puts me in front of the person and several times now, I have been emailed with an offer for something else.
Stacie Haight Connerty says
Man, I sound like a moron above…don’t I? 🙂
@ Laura: that’s a trick I use a lot on job interviews as well. “Is there something I could improve on that would help out in the future?” Glad to hear that it would also work for job queries and such.