Work & Purpose

How To Deal With Rejection During Your Job Search

This expert says: Learn to let it slide off you

(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.) 

Someone in your network tells you about a job that would be a perfect fit for you.

You meet all qualifications for the job, so you apply. You put in the time to research the company and prepare for the interview. You show up 15 minutes early, dressed for success. You shine in the first round interview and are asked to come back for a second one. You meet the president and the hiring manager, the person you would report to at the job. You pass the second round and are told you are a top candidate. You get references from highly-respected people who support your fit for the job.

And now you wait. A week goes by yet you hear nothing. Then, Friday at 4:01 p.m., you get an email (edited for confidentiality):

Subject: Many thanks
To: John R. Fugazzie
Sent: Fri, Mar 14, 2014 4:01 p.m.
Subject: Many thanks
I want to thank you for being such a terrific candidate for the Director position. You have a diverse set of skills and I think your deep commitment and enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring on several fronts. 
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer you the position. It was a very difficult decision, but I am hopeful that there might be a way that we can work together in another capacity in the future. I'll circle back to you in a few months to see what's going on in the hopes that we can make something happen. 
Keep up the impressive work and I look forward to checking in soon. 
Warm regards,
Hiring Manager

Taking My Own Advice 
I am the founder and leader of Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA (NhN), the largest job search group in America (with over 390 success stories in two years, 26 locations and a network well in excess of 1,200 members) and I find myself in the same state of rejection that I often advise and coach others on how to handle.
After I spend my short time in disbelief that I am not going back to work soon, I have to apply the advice I give on an almost daily basis.
I have to have the same conversation with myself regarding how to deal with being rejected, again, for a job the I strongly believe I should've landed.

(MORE: Convincing Firms You're Not Too Experienced)

How to Shake It Off

Here's my advice for the rejected job applicant, which I'm in the midst of practicing:

  • Accept it and move on. Put full steam into the next best opportunity you are working on. Hopefully you are working on multiple job possibilities, since today you just can't sit back and wait for one job to process at a time. This is a market where you have to be juggling multiple opportunities at once because of how challenging it is to secure any one of them.
  • Don't get angry. You are likely to feel angry, since you're human and it's hard to not take rejection personally. However, the reason you didn't get the job was probably the result of a variety of factors and not just a fault of yours.
  • Thank your interviewer for their time. Saying thank you might be the last thing you feel like doing. But as you see in my rejection e-mail, the door may still remain open for future work. So you never want to slam that door shut. You may even impress people by handling the rejection with class and maturity.
  • Network the interviewer. If you did impress your interviewer he or she could possibly recommend you to someone else in their network. Connect on LinkedIn with the hiring manager and anyone else you met in the interview process to make them part of your LinkedIn network.
  • Ask the hiring manager to give you feedback. Find out what you could have done to be a stronger candidate. One NhN member, in his own words, “blew an interview,” but still got a pretty nice and detailed email on how he could do better next time. If you don't ask, you will never get this feedback and when you do get it, you can learn valuable information about how you can do better next time.
  • Reach out to the references you used for the job. The five references I was able to get from key people in a short time will be very helpful even for future jobs.
  • Stay motivated and focused. Pick up the pieces and dust yourself off, follow these tips, and keep building toward your eventual success.

Look Forward Not Back
Absolutely Abby” Abby Kohut, a job-search expert, shared this advice with me when I shared my rejection with her: “If you get rejected from a job, it wasn't your job to have. I can think of countless things that I was disappointed about in my career that turned out to just be blips. Right after the rejections something even better lurked around the corner. Keep your head high and get back on the horse as fast as possible.
“Also, even if you love a job and are sure you are the perfect candidate, you need to have other opportunities in the hopper,"  she says. "It won't sting as much if you have possibilities waiting in the wings.”
Abby is on a national tour and a great professional friend of mine. She is currently in southern California helping me kick off our Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA effort in San Diego, starting up a weekly chapter there at the Microsoft store.

John R. Fugazzie is the Founder and President of Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA Inc., a free, volunteer-led job search support and networking group targeted to adults who are actively looking for work.Follow him on Twitter @JohnRFugazzie


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