Rats! Rejected again. Whether it’s your dream job or a survival job, that rejection can sting; especially if you’re hearing, “Sorry”, just a little bit too often.
Now there are many reasons why you might not be what a company is looking for. Not all rejections should be seen as negative. Some are beyond your control, and surprisingly, some of those rejections might just be the best thing that could have happened to you if you are smart enough to think about the reasons behind the rejection.
Suppose for example you are up for a job as an actor in a play. You prepare for your audition and it goes extremely well, but you don’t land the part. Until the Director cast the leading characters, they couldn’t determine the supporting cast, and that being done, you’re just too tall for the part. That news is no reflection on your acting, dancing or singing skills; they just don’t want the person playing the younger brother to be taller than the older brother. While that happens in real life all the time, on the stage they want the oldest to be tallest as viewed by the audience.
The above example is one where although the outcome is disappointing, again it’s no reflection on your skill or performance. Pick up your ego with your 8″ x 10″ photo’s and move on. What’s important for your mental stability is to know you auditioned (or interviewed for the part) having prepared and given it your best.
A second situation where you can re-frame rejection into a positive is when you apply for a job you ultimately don’t get, but it would have been a bad personal fit. Suppose you are a Civil Engineer, complete with degree and working on a Masters. That phone call you just got saying you are far too qualified to work at the café might have been a blessing in disguise. Who knows…you could have successfully worked there for the next few years and all the while your up-to-date skills aged with every espresso you frothed. By the time you got serious about applying for a job in your educational field, you’d be old news and then really frustrated!
And that’s one of the pitfalls of applying for numerous jobs when you feel like, “I just need to work!” It’s a real Catch-22. I mean, you start broadening out in your mind the kind of work you will apply for, and run the risk of expanding too fast and lose all your focus on what you should be doing most – applying for the jobs that best make use of your education, skills and experience. Yet, if you don’t look outside of a narrow niche, you run the risk of missing good opportunities while your skills rust.
Finding out the reasons behind your rejections can sound frustrating in itself to a job seeker. It’s bad enough they don’t want you, now you’re being told to find out why. Sounds like a bad replaying of your high school experience in trying to land a date with someone you had a crush on. “Go out with you? Uh, no thanks.” And then you ask, “Why? Don’t you like me?”
Funny enough in an odd kind of way, the reason for getting an explanation for being rejected as a date and as a job candidate are the same; you want to learn from the experience so you can make changes and increase the odds of success with the next attempt. The real challenge is to get honesty in the answer. Having an employer tell you there was another candidate just a little more qualified is about as much help as having that high school guy or girl tell you, “It just wouldn’t work out that’s all.” It’s too vague.
As a general rule, I think it’s a wise move to contact an employer after you’ve been rejected. Be professional in your approach and in a non-threatening tone ask for some concrete feedback, assuring them that the reason you are asking is because you continue to be interested in the position and would like to address any concerns the employer might have in a future application.
Almost all job seekers these days just chalk up a rejection as a permanent rejection and never contact the employer. While it’s true employers are very busy and can’t give every rejected applicant all the feedback they might otherwise, only a very few ever seek it anymore. Many applicants tell me, “I’ve already lost the job so why bother further humiliating myself? I’ve got other jobs to apply to.”
Here’s why: 1) Not all people who are hired actually work out. 2) You’ll stand apart from any other applicant who got rejected in the final decision and did nothing. 3) It shows you REALLY want the job. 4) It shows you want to improve and learn from the experience – and you can share this in future interviews demonstrating how you deal with challenges, are persistent and work on your goals.
Reframing rejection is a skill just like any other. It’s really not about the rejection but how you choose to react to it and what if anything, you do to minimize the odds in the future of being rejected that’s the key. We all get rejected be it in relationships, jobs, an offer on a house or a loan at the bank. How we react is what defines us.