TAO Self-help

Title:Turning Today's Rejection into a Job Offer Next Month: It's in the Stars!

Author:Susan P. Joyce

Date:February 2014


The job sounded great. The interviews went well. You liked the people, and they seemed to like you. The job, the organization, and the people felt like a "good fit." You were one of the finalists, and you were almost positive that this one was IT! But you didn't get the job offer. Dang!

Being rejected for a job you really wanted, working with a group of people you liked and felt some connection with, can be very disheartening and discouraging & often a major, and seemingly very personal, rejection. And a very big disappointment.

Unfortunately, being rejected is a big part of a job search. Let's try to keep it in perspective.

Simply Stated: Not This Job at This Time

The rejection was most likely limited only to that specific opportunity and that specific point in time. This is very important to remember!

A job search often feels like a courtship/dating situation. But, it's not! It's only business.

In a courtship, when someone turns you down, it is usually personal, and, unless they give you a lot of encouragement, it's usually a permanent rejection.

On the other hand, when you get turned down for a job, it is not a personal rejection, even though it usually feels that way.

Nor is it a permanent rejection, although employers seldom are smart enough to encourage you to apply again.

The rejection you receive from a potential employer is usually simply a business decision based on minimizing risk to the organization at that point in time. Maybe they really liked you, but the person they hired was referred by another employee (so more of a known quantity than you in this specific situation) or possibly an employee took the job.

As Ronnie Ann pointed out in this post, "NO" Isn't Always the End of the job search story!

Recovering Job Opportunities

Rather than doing what most of us do automatically (take that rejection personally), take these steps:

  • Record the names, job titles, contact information, and any other personal observations about the people who interviewed you (maybe a Red Sox fan, interested in all things software engineering, loves to sky dive, etc.).
  • Send each person a thank you note & thank you for the opportunity to learn more about the organization, thank you for considering you for the job, and please keep you in mind for the next opportunity. At least they gave you some closure, even if it wasn't the optimal outcome. [More details in Not Hired for a Job You Wanted?]
  • Put a star beside the names of the people with whom you felt the best personal connection. Maybe there was only one person, but that's OK. Designate the recruiter as the star if you didn't feel a personal connection with anyone.
  • Reach out to each of those "stars" via LinkedIn. Send each a personal invitation to connect, not the canned LinkedIn invitation. If you don't share a LinkedIn Group, you can use the email addresses on the business cards you collected at the interviews (right!?!) to prove to LinkedIn that you have met these people. [Read 10 Steps to Successful Job Interviewing for when and how to collect those business cards.]
  • Continue to monitor job opportunities with that employer (via Indeed Alerts, Google Alerts or TAOnline Alerts).
  • Continue to pay attention to the careers of the stars & particularly if they change jobs or employers. Congratulate them on their career progress if that feels comfortable and appropriate.

Continue with your job search, as usual.

Reaching for the "Stars" with the Next Opportunity

When the next good-fit-for-you opportunity appears with that employer, reach out to those people you had starred in your list, particularly if they are in the right department associated with the new opportunity.

Depending on how your professional relationship has progressed since you were turned down, you could call or simply email them with a question about the new opportunity.

If you have gained new experience or education since you last spoke with them, give them a quick update. Perhaps you wouldn't have qualified for the new opportunity without these added skills or experience, so let them know that you are qualified now.

If there is a formal "employee referral program," it typically provides a monetary reward for the employee who refers a successful candidate (and employers are three to five times more likely to hire someone referred by a current employee). So your contact may be rewarded for referring you. Even if no formal employee referral program exists, staff members can gain credibility as well as a larger internal network by helping people get hired into the organization.

This next opportunity may be a few days or several months (or longer) after you were turned down. Don't worry about that. Just reach out!

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.

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