I have the privilege of walking with my clients during some of the highest and lowest moments of their lives. The “I got the job” client phone call never gets old. As much as I’d love to tout that every single one of my clients lands their dream job after a few appointments with me, that’s just not a possible reality. There are inevitable setbacks. Orville Pierson, the author of "The Highly Effective Job Search" found that the average job seeker is rejected by 24 decision makers before hearing “yes”.
About three months ago I started working with a client with a 2-year employment gap. He was extremely motivated to find a meaningful job. When he had the chance to interview for a “dream” position we were both optimistic. He made it to the 3rd round. All he heard during the interview process affirmed that he was the right candidate for the job.
And then—he did not get the job.
It stung. Big.
If you are entering a job search, you—like my client—have the choice every day. You have the choice to mentally reframe rejection. You can either take it personally (“they just don’t like me”) or you could think of this rejection as one step closer to hearing a yes. Maybe they didn’t fill the role? Maybe the position would not have been the right fit?
There are also some practical things to do after hearing a “no”:
- Write a thank you note—and make it influential. Writing a thank you note is something you should do anyways, but writing one after a rejection shows professionalism. Communicate to the hiring manager that you can step up to the plate if given another chance. While an influential thank you note may not help you land the job, it will tell the hiring manager that you have class, persistence and resilience: traits that may keep you on the short list for future jobs.
- Send a connection request to the hiring manager on LinkedIn. This is a great way to maintain long-term contact.
- Reflect on the feedback you received. Often, hiring managers send a vague or form rejection to candidates. Sometimes, hiring managers take the time to personally call the candidate and offer a reason for moving forward with someone else. If you receive any feedback, take some time to process it. Could you have been more prepared? Did you try to build rapport or connect with the manager during the interview? Should you apply again in a year once you have more experience under your belt?
- Keep on keeping on. Consider Mr. Pierson’s research. Was this your first rejection or your twelvth? If you are not satisfied with your track record, consider revising your approach. Spend time vetting your skills for specific positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. Do some informatonal interviews.
For future job searches, consider Joseph Liu’s approach described in Fast Company, "Stay committed without getting attached". He considers commitment and attachment linked but two distinct thing. “Commitment means being dedicated 100% of the time” while attachment is “when all of my energy is consumed with end results”. He recommends distancing yourself from outcomes and focus instead on the process of reaching them.