Handling Rejection as a Job Applicant
Rejection can be a bitter pill to swallow. Most of us have interviewed for a job, felt we did well, and then got the boiler plate rejection email: “While your background and skills are impressive, we have selected another candidate. We wish you well on your job search”. Even seasoned sales professionals accustomed to rejection can get down when rejected for a job because it isn’t a “No” to their product or service, it’s a rejection of them, or so they feel.
While getting a “No” is often taken as a personal affront, it doesn’t have to be viewed as a failure. There is always something to be learned from the experience. Do not allow it to diminish your morale or dissuade you from pursuing other openings. There are often other factors at play that you might not, or cannot, know. For example, the candidate selected may have worked in the past with the hiring manager at another company or were in the same sorority. Perhaps they knew from the onset they wanted someone that is already in that company, but they opened it up to external candidates in case she said no. The other issue is fit; would you be a good fit for that company’s culture and find their values compatible with yours? The hiring manager has the right, and responsibility, to use their judgment when it comes to how well they feel someone will fit on their team. They can’t just base it on experience and/or skills. So keep in mind that it isn’t a reflection on you if they decide someone else is a better fit. In fact, it can be a blessing to not be chosen.
Ask for feedback. This step shows the hiring manager that you are truly interested in learning from the experience and that it will help you when you interview for other positions, possibly even in another department or division of that same company. “Mr. Jackson, I would greatly appreciate feedback regarding how I interviewed, or why I might not be a good fit there.” What do you have to lose? On more than one occasion I’ve had a career coaching client that was rejected then later receive a call back and offer after the top candidate failed a background check or withdrew acceptance for a better offer. So never burn a bridge. Be sure to send a thank you email, ask for feedback, and let them know you’re very interested in talking again when there is another opening. You can always turn down the offer.
Frank Manfre https://www.frankmanfre.com/career-coaching