Where to Go from "NO"
Job rejection is difficult, whether it’s your first search or you’re a seasoned executive. The more you want an opportunity, the more “no” may sting, regardless of market factors that are beyond your control.
Many job searches today have extended timelines. Lengthy applications followed by multiple interviews, tests, background checks and phone calls can drag weeks into months. You might think you're about to begin salary negotiations when suddenly you're notified that you've been eliminated from the candidate pool. A generic rejection letter can be particularly infuriating but, when you’ve been rejected, it’s important to stay calm, cool, and strategic.
How you react to “no” is an important factor in being a successful candidate and potentially getting another offer. Don’t let a “no” slow you down: the goal is learning how to handle rejection with grace while not allowing it to bruise your ego.
Here are some concrete steps to take to keep moving forward:
Never put all your eggs in one basket.
Just as it's wise to diversify your investments, applying to multiple jobs and working all your contacts is a great strategy too. A good offense is the best defense against “no”- so play the field. While it is natural to want to laser focus on one opportunity, I counsel clients that the best way to receive an offer is to work as many prospects as possible. Remember: more times at bat produces more home runs.
Avoid angry and ask for information.
It can be challenging to be rejected, particularly if you’d been assured you were an ideal candidate. Rather than letting your feelings show and potentially tarnishing your professional reputation, ask the employer for feedback. You may not always get an answer, but knowing the reason behind the decision might help you adjust your strategy at the next interview.
It’s not personal.
To land a job you need to be confident, but it's hard to maintain that confidence if you keep getting rejected. Know that you're not alone! It can take months of hearing "no" before hearing a "yes” and we all know colleagues who landed amazing jobs for seemingly illogical reasons. Perseverance is needed to get your skills noticed. If you feel down, take an afternoon off and do what works for you to press your re-set button. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and then look forward.
Reflect on your strengths.
No one is perfect and hearing “no” can easily get you started obsessing on your weaknesses. Resist the urge and instead focus on your strengths. Think about the successes you have had and the attributes that have contributed to them. What separates you from the competition? Reflect on the great work you have done to date and how this has helped determine the short and long- term goals you have set as a result.
Never go it alone!
Having a career coach can be invaluable at this point in the process. If you don’t have one, your support network is there to help. Talk with friends or family. Reach out to your professional network for advice. Connect with a mentor. A support team, and these strategies, will help keep you focused on the positive outcome you want: that next great job offer.