Have you ever been rejected from a job? I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who had made it quite a way into the hiring process for a job he’d actually been invited to apply for, down to the final interview as a matter of fact, before being told by the HR director that he hadn’t been one of the candidates chosen for a position. As I was speaking with him he was a couple of days removed from what he considered a pretty massive blow to his ego so he was able to speak a bit more rationally about the whole thing, but it was still obviously a great source of pain. Usually, he related, that “sting” wears off quickly. Particularly once you’ve had a few rejections under your belt like my friend, who happens to be in an industry with a high layoff rate. But this time it was different. He REALLY wanted this position for the stability it would offer for his family and he was absolutely convinced he was the best candidate for this position. Cue sad music….

This made me think about the times I’ve been turned down for positions in the past. Probably more than I can even think of off the top of my head. “We’ve decided to go another direction”, or “That position has already been filled internally…”, or, worst of all, absolute silence. Not even a recorded message from the HR department or a computer-generated form letter!! Any of these outcomes can leave the job seeker at a loss. And enough of them in a row can lead a person to wrongly believe it’s all their fault. Now, don’t get me wrong; it is absolutely at least partly your fault. But not every situation can be helped either. Sometimes it’s a matter of a minor difference in the type of experience you and the lady you’re neck and neck with have had, I applaud companies that promote from within and, sometimes, there was a change of plans and they DID actually decide to go a whole other direction! Justifiable or not though, rejection never feels good. Our brains are hardwired, due to something called “Negativity Bias”, to have a far more intense emotion surrounding a negative event than it would for an equally positive one (Science!!) To sum that up; the bad news is that it still might be your fault you didn’t get the job, but the good news is that it’s totally not your fault you feel bad about it! Congratulations! Now what though? Well, now it’s time to move on:

  • Do not freak out!! The last thing you want to do is to let your emotions get the better of you and tell that nice gentleman on the phone who just told you that you wouldn’t be hired exactly what can do with the official rejection letter he would like to send you. Remember that most lager companies will keep resumes on file for a period after the hiring has been done, and sometimes that person who barely squeaked by you interviews a whole lot better than they work. Don’t burn a bridge before you even have a chance to be called back.
  • Send a thank you card. Hopefully you’ve already done this as a part of your interview follow up but, if not, why not? Even if you’ve been turned down for the job, people did take the time to speak with you and review your information. The worst that can happen is what? Writers cramp? It never hurts to prove yourself to be the one to go the extra mile. It might even get them to consider you for positions that come up down the road!
  • Ask them for feedback. It’s possible that the information they provide you with could be the key to something you’ve been missing in the way you interview. Something that could be the difference in the next one and could be the game changer you were looking for.

Bottom line about interviewing a hunting for that perfect job? Just don’t give up. It’s not a mind blowing truth, and I know it’s a whole lot easier said than done, but remind yourself that you have probably overcome greater obstacles in your life and this whole process will soon be an unpleasant, but thankfully distant memory.

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