After charming employers with your strong resume and nailing a phone interview, it can feel like a real sucker punch straight to your gut after you hear that unfortunately, at this time, you are not the candidate they are looking for, after you’ve completed your final in-person interview with the company of your wildest dreams.

After making it through an initial phone interview, an in-person interview with three employees at the company and a writing test, I was ready to bust out the party hats and start a conga line around the fact that I was going to be employed at a company I’d been interested in working at since my sophomore year of college. But right before I had the chance to celebrate, I received the news that the company was going to be hiring someone else for the position. I was left jobless, feeling defeated and, above all else, unsure of how to handle such heartbreak from a company I really wanted to work for.

But instead of harping on the rejection, it’s important to take action in order to move forward and not only stay in contact with the company, but also learn how you can improve as an interviewee.

Here are five ways to bow out gracefully after receiving a rejection from a job that you desperately wanted:

1. Write a thank-you letter to the hiring manager.

It’s important to thank the company and the hiring manager for their time and their consideration of you as an applicant. Immediately after receiving word that you were not given the position, draft up a positive and endearing letter to send to the hiring manager — and anyone else you spoke with at the company. Once again, thank them and let them know that hopefully there will be an opportunity to work together in the future, since you admire them and the foundation of the company. End things on a strong note, allowing them to understand that while you may not be the best fit for that job, perhaps in the future they can consider you for a different position.

2. Stay connected.

Link up with employees that you met during your interview process. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Reach out to them whenever you feel it necessary to say hello or share something interesting about the industry that you’ve stumbled upon. Contact the hiring manager at the company quarterly, if need be, just to check in and see if there are any open positions that might fit you well. Establish a relationship with the people you’ve spent time getting to know.

3. Improve your interviewing skills.

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the hiring manger why they believe you didn’t get the job — which qualities about yourself that you should improve or which skills you need to acquire or better understand. Walk away from rejection with understanding so that you won’t make the same mistakes again and you can better focus in on what you need to alter or adjust to make you more of a stellar interviewee and a more relevant candidate.

4. Research.

Spend some time researching similar companies or opportunities. If you had your heart set on working in a particular field or having a certain job title, find other companies that may have an open position for you. If none are available, dig a little deeper and see if you can stop in for an informational interview where you can learn more about the company and establish some connections. This is a good chance for them to get to know who you are and what type of job you are looking for so when the time comes for them to search for candidates, you could be at the very top of their list.

5. Review your resume and cover letter.

After the competition of an interview process, it’s always a good idea to review and revamp your resume and cover letter. Go over your information and see how you can improve it to make it more fresh and engaging.

I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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