You: The Rejected

It was about a year ago this week. I had been super active in the job search, had a couple of weeks under my belt sending e-mails to employers, applying directly on job boards and anything else I could think of doing. I found a target company that looked interesting and sent my resume to hoping it would be passed along.

It was passed along! I was amazed, really, but the next morning I had a phone interview with one of the executive members. We had a great interview and I was invited to come in that afternoon. Amazing. This interview also went well, and I was asked to come in for a third interview to meet with two other executives in different departments.

Now, one thing you have to understand about me is that I am optimistic, and once I get this far along in the process I am thinking of all of the great things to do in the job. In fact, I’m already doing the job in my mind! I’m losing sleep over how I can add value to their organization and have specific projects already started (in my mind).

I was completely surprised, after the third interview, to get an e-mail that seemed to come out of some Communications 101 book saying that they already had someone else in mind, and thanks for coming in, and they’d keep my resume on file – you know, all that normal garbage that doesn’t sound true.

This was the lowest point of my job search – even after this rejection I didn’t have a bigger let-down. I had become too emotionally involved in this one, excited about the prospect, anxious to get started, and reading the signals inaccurately.

So, let’s talk about this thing called rejection, and coping.

Rejection, for me, came in various forms. The most frequent was not getting an e-mail or response back. I’ve covered this before and realize that everyone is busy, and they’d probably have to hire an extra person just to respond back to all of the applicants. I realize that now but it sure was a shocker at first. Other forms of rejection included a non-invite to the next interview, or asking someone if they knew anyone that knew anyone -and they’d say no, even though you knew they were super connected.

I remember a former boss that learned of JibberJobber, and when I asked him if he’d let his colleagues know, his response was “I’ll try.” Not a big deal, but if you knew this guy, you would know that “I’ll try” is absolutely unacceptable in his company – if I would have said that in a meeting I’d be in big trouble. What a rejection, hearing “I’ll try” from him, when I asked him a simple favor.

So what should we do when we are rejected? How can we react (and still be healthy :))?

I’m not sure there is one appropriate answer or strategy – it probably depends on you, where you are at, and what you need. One of my favorite philosophies on dealing with rejection comes from Carolyn Greco, of The Facet Group. One of her mantras is:

Some Will

Some Won’t

So What?

What’s Next?!?!

For me, this is somewhat hard to live by (although the more rejections I get the easier it is – isn’t that how we get wiser?), mostly because I get emotionally involved. But it is excellent advice. For an awesome read on something very closely related, go check out Kent Blumberg’s How to handle negative criticism.

How do you handle rejection?

10 thoughts on “You: The Rejected”

  1. Jsaon, handling rejection is tough. You should try being a recruiter… LOL. Talk about getting some OJT on hearing “NO!”…

    It can be tough to keep oneself from getting overly excited about prospects. BUT, if you chart out the process [sometimes you may have to ask what the process of hiring is, multiple times] then it might help you to keep your emmotions in check. -Carl

  2. Jason,

    I love this post.

    I think the best way to conquer rejection is to work as a telemarketer or telesurveyer. That was one of my college-student jobs, and it was the best experience of my life. Basically, in a 3-hour shift, you call 300 people, none of which want to talk to you, and only 6 of which you can possibly manipulate into listening for 5-10 minutes.

    My philosophy was, “I’m not looking for someone who wants to take the survey. I’m looking for 294 that don’t.” Hey, it made it fun. 😉

    That also really solidified the concept that sales & job searching (and many other things) are a numbers game… of 30 jobs I apply for, 15 won’t respond, 7 will reject me outright, 2 will forget to e-mail back, 6 I’ll interview with, 2 will make offers, and finally, I’ll accept 1.

    If I want more options than that, then I’d better be approaching more than 30, because that’s the reality of it in a traditional job search. 🙂 Or, I’d better be extremely awesome in my approach.

  3. Hi Jason,

    I tend to agree with Carolynn, except for her mathematics 😛 (j/k). I’m glad you pointed to the link on sensitivity to rejection, because rejection can tie us up so much emotionally.

    I think one of the keys to dealing with rejection, along with the numbers, is to work smart.

  4. Jason,

    Carl is dead on about the rejection a recruiter gets. Some days even the cat wouldn’t sit in my lap. Carolyn’s numbers approach is a great way to take yourself out of the equation, make it less personal, and keep up you spirits.

    As a recruiter I always told myself and my candidates that every NO gets you closer to a YES. Also, you never know when that YES is going to come. I could have a terrible day, but I always knew that the next phone call or email could be the one.

    A job search is difficult. Interviewing and rejection is so personal. You can find yourself asking over and over, “Why don’t they want me? What did I do wrong? Didn’t they like me?” You can’t control who companies hire. You may be the greatest person but just not the right person. Don’t let it get you down.

    I always tell people when they have a great interview. “Super, now go out and get another great interview.” Nothing builds success like success and nothing builds confidence more than the feeling of control.

    On another note, I think the way companies respond to job seekers sucks and it will come back to bite them.

    Any resume submission should get a response, even if it is just an email auto response.
    Anyone who is interviewed deserves a personalized response, at least an email for a phone interview and a phone call for a face-to-face.


  5. Very good topic – I’d love to lessen my fear of rejection. It’s someting we all share, whether we admit it or not. Yes, rejection on any level sucks! As already stated, many of us with sales/marketing background try to put a positive spin on it – each NO moves us closer to the YES. That can be hard when you’re the one on the block, though, rather than some product you’re pushing.

    Personally, I like to get excited and start envsioning myself in whatever new endeavor I am looking to join. I would like to say I’m cool, and the outcome is no big deal, but not so. I think by trying to always keep a few irons in the fire, I lessen the blow of rejection if one doesn’t pan out 🙂

  6. Guys and gals, thanks for sharing your experiences and tips. This is such a hard subject – I remember after my first rejection I didn’t want to get emotionally involved in other interviews/opportunities – but I did!

    Great additions to the dialogue. I’ll have to remember the advice: to learn to deal with it, become a recruiter or telemarketer.

    And be nice to the cat even on the days he/she won’t sit on your lap (that had me laughing!).

  7. I think I could be far more sanguine about rejection if I did not have to worry about losing my house, my car, having to feed and support my family and try to get extensions on paying my utility bills. Having said that, I remain baffled as to the endless rejection. I have extensive experience, good management and information systems skills and excellent references and education. I have had excellent interviews and resume response, and after nine months, I still am not employed. I also have had the second and third interviews, all positive experiences, only to receive that “after interviewing you and considering your qualifications, we decided to look for someone else” letters.
    At this point, I am just depressed by the whole process. I am doing all the right things, with the wrong result. Maybe I will become a telemarketer, or a sign twirler….

  8. Janet, though that final comment was made nearly a year ago … consider that the most talented Sign Twirler I know does not work for less than $60 per hour. If you are half-way decent, you could earn $30 per hour easy. Something for you (or others) to consider.

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