Here's How To Support A Friend After They Lose Out On A Job

Sooner or later, everybody experiences rejection in the search for the perfect job. Some fields may lend themselves to more rejection than others (the more competitive industries can be minefields of doors slamming in your face). But losing out on a job or opportunity you were hoping for is a universal experience.


When this happens to someone you care about, you'll want to rush to their side and say all the right things. Unfortunately, because the situation is delicate and feelings are on the line, it's easy to say the wrong thing and do more harm than good.

Truly supporting your friend largely comes down to understanding how they're feeling and respecting their boundaries. This sort of empathy is one of the keys to developing and maintaining lasting friendship. To avoid putting your foot in it, always read the room and gage where your friend is at before you offer your help.

Let them know that it's okay to feel sad

Losing out on a job can be a massive blow to a person's self-esteem. It can also lead to significant stress, as your friend may have been relying on that job to improve their financial situation. It's absolutely normal to feel gutted after any rejection, but especially one like this. That rings even more true if this was your friend's dream job, or if they felt sure they were going to get it.


It might seem helpful to tell your friend that there's no need to feel so upset after losing out on a job. But trivializing their pain like this sends the impression that they're overreacting and they're not free to express their emotions. So definitely let them know that it's okay to feel sad.

However they want to express their feelings, give them the space to do it. Don't judge them or stop them if they want to cry. Ask them whether they'd prefer to be alone or have some company, and support their right to feel and process their emotions in whatever way they choose.

Remind them that this is not a reflection of their self-worth

Even without the disappointment and stress of financial hardship, being rejected for a job is so hard because it can leave a person feeling like they're not good enough. Your friend may have interpreted the rejection as a sign that they're not worthy as a person.


If your friend is feeling badly about themselves after losing out on a job, remind them that it's not a reflection of their self-worth. And it really isn't. In today's competitive job market, even great candidates get rejected all the time. Maybe your friend was a strong contender for the job, but the company simply couldn't hire everyone who applied.

It is possible that your friend wasn't good enough for the role, but again, this doesn't mean that they're worth any less as a person. Even if they don't possess the right skills or knowledge for a particular role, they still have a bunch of other great qualities. Remind them of the things you love about them, and that you're not friends with them because of their skills or talents. Ultimately, these aren't the things that determine a person's overall worth.


Share a time when you've been rejected (but don't one-down)

When your friend is down in the dumps after being rejected for a role, it can make them feel better to share a time when you were in a similar position. This can serve as a reminder that everybody goes through rejection, and again, it doesn't make them worse than anybody else. However, you'll want to be careful with this step. Namely, you want to avoid one-downing.


Per the ABC, this is when a person tries to compete with another person's struggles. The point of sharing your own experience is to make your friend feel better and less alone, not to shift the attention away from them or make them feel like their feelings aren't valid.

Let them vent and tell you the full story before bringing up your own experience. When you do share, wrap up the story by reminding them that this happens to everybody, and it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with them. Also don't imply that your experience was worse than theirs, or try to outdo their pain. Once you've let them know that everybody goes through this sooner or later, steer the conversation back to them rather than keeping the focus on you.


Encourage them not to compare themselves to others

The emotional impact of losing out on a job is often made worse when a person compares their experience with other people's more positive experiences. And in a world where most of us can't go 10 minutes without scrolling through Instagram, it can be difficult to avoid this.


Remind your friend that their journey has nothing to do with anyone else. When it comes to social media, particularly, most people are exclusively sharing (and embellishing) the great parts of their lives and hiding their pain and struggles. Tell your friend not to compare themselves to that influencer who has a great job. You don't know how many times that person was rejected before they landed it.

Also let them know that comparisons are useless because nobody shares your friend's particular situation and challenges. The people who are seemingly doing better might not have had to deal with some of the obstacles that your friend has been through.

Help them on their job-seeking journey

Once your friend has had a chance to feel all their emotions and process the disappointment, help them on their job-seeking journey in whatever way you can. Maybe you have some skill that can be of use. For example, if you're a grammar wiz, you can offer to read over their cover letter. Otherwise, you can simply keep an eye out for jobs that might be of interest in the future, or lend an ear as they practice for their next interview. You might even know someone who's looking to hire and can put in a good word for your friend.


Keep in mind that it's always important to respect your friend's boundaries. If their self-esteem has taken a hit, they might not want help in searching for the next job. Share tips that may make their search easier if they are open to receiving that help, but don't force your assistance upon them. Nobody wants to feel like a charity case.

Losing out on a job role can be disheartening, but it's much easier to get through when you have good friends by your side. Offer your support in these ways and your friend will feel lucky to have you.