You’ve probably already figured out that you’re not going to be offered every job you apply for, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from going through the application process. Every job ad you read helps you identify the type of skills that employers want. Each application that you complete improves your understanding of the type of information you need to have at your fingertips. Every interview you experience should add to your confidence and prepare you to do better the next time.
In some instances, your application won’t make it through to the interview process, and you may not have any way to find out what you lacked in skills or experience to have had a better chance. However, if you are invited for an interview but don’t get the job, odds are good that you will get a phone call to let you know that your application wasn’t successful. At that point, most applicants will just thank the caller for the opportunity, but this is where some additional learning can take place. When you get that type of call, it is perfectly reasonable for you to politely ask if there were anything you could have done differently that would have resulted in a job offer.
If asking that question directly makes you uncomfortable—or if you’re concerned it will make the caller uncomfortable—another option is to use email. It’s possible that you won’t get a response, but it never hurts to demonstrate that you’re concerned with doing your best and improving in the future.