Leveraging Job Rejection

May 21st, 2019


You thought you did everything right. You micro-targeted your resume to impress this company. The interview allowed you to present yourself at your most impressive (and at your most charming, if you do say so yourself).

But they picked someone else. And now you’re left staring into the void of rejection … an abyss of self-doubt and self-recrimination. It has all the pain of a romantic break-up, with the added torturous twist of denying you a paycheck as well.

However, as much as it seems like personal rejection in the immediate aftermath, resist the temptation to wallow. To succeed long term, you have to move on. Moreover, like any experience, you’ll make the most out of the situation by turning it into a lesson.

With that in mind, here are five ways to leverage that rejection into longer-term career success:

Don’t See It as a Personal Failure

You may have been passed over for this position, but that doesn’t make it a failure. You never know who got hired over you. You may have been up against a PhD candidate in your field. Maybe the CEO’s nephew applied. They may have had an internal candidate in mind all along.

There are dozens of reasons why you could have been rejected that have little or nothing to do with you personally. Don’t dwell on the situation. Apply for the next opportunity and move on.

Build Your Network

The first step is not to burn any bridges. Even if you legitimately feel you were unfairly passed over, don’t send that 1,000-word “I’ll have you know, sir…” email. Remain courteous and professional in response to rejection.

In addition, keep in mind the relationship here hasn’t really ended. If you lost out in a close competition, you might still have a chance at a future position. The person they hired might flame out. You never know.

Keep in contact with the company. Check in now and then. Another opportunity might open up at the company and you want to be positioned to jump at it.

Inquire About Contract Work

In a world increasingly influenced by the gig economy, you can’t consider a rejection for full-time employment at the end of the process. If anything, it could signal the beginning of other negotiations.

The company that turned you down as a full-timer might need your skills on a less-formal basis. Inquire about part-time or contract work. Even small projects could help you develop a relationship that could evolve into a long-term position someday.

Critique Your Performance

Stay positive about the situation, but simultaneously use it as a learning experience. Look back at your interview performance and identify ways you might improve next time. If you’re in contact with any of your interviewers (another good reason to keep the lines of communication open), try to get feedback from them.

Introspection may be painful, but it can be enlightening as well. The key here is to remain objective. Don’t let the process sap your confidence. Identify areas of improvement without taking it personally.

Use a Recruiter

Having outside help can supercharge all these efforts. A recruiter will steer you to ideal situations, where your skills will be a welcome addition to the team. Meanwhile, your recruiter will do the networking for you, tapping into their contact web of hundreds of potential employers.

In addition, a staffing associate can give you advice and guidance that will help you impress even more next time out.

Ready for a staffing firm to jump-start your career advancement? SmartTalent can provide the resources you need to find the perfect placement quickly. Contact them today to find out more.

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