Dealing with Rejections!

posted by Dilip on August 5, 2020

In our personal and professional lives, we are programmed to pursue our dreams. Some pursue them with plans supported by their ambition and hard work but are still not always able to get what they purse. In fact, even in some of the most ardent pursuits the brass ring remains elusive, despite the most qualified and deserving individuals pursuing those opportunities. This can not only be disappointing, but sometimes even frustrating with your wanting to abandon your plan by throwing your hands up and surrendering to your fate. What makes such rejections even more invidious and painful is the indifference with which the companies convey why you did not make the cut and where you came up short in their assessments, especially after going through a gauntlet of grueling interviews and a demanding screening process.

When it comes to managing your career nothing helps more to build yourself up than when a company finds your candidacy so compelling that they are willing to go out of its way to bend the hiring rules and accommodate your every demand (within reason) to get you on board. For such an outcome to materialize many things must come together: your differentiated value proposition, your fit for the role, your chemistry with those that would be working with you, your temperament and compatibility, just to name a few—in other words they must fall in love with you. So, if you now look at all these variables that must be conquered just to qualify for the job you can quickly see the probability of success is low.

This is why it is a good practice to keep the above quote by the Dalai Lama in mind and invoke it, especially right after you get their rejection. When a person is out of work their immediate priority is to get themselves a job. Even if they are financially secure, being out of work can be psychologically and personally damaging. If this state is further compounded by financial anxiety every rejection that delays your landing a job increases that anxiety, often resulting in a spiraling sense of hopelessness. Now the person gradually slips into a funk, even experiencing a state of panic.

The problem now becomes how to manage your new interviews in this state of mind, so that this does not get in the way to further prevent you from claiming a suitable job that could otherwise be yours. However much you want to hide your pain of previous rejections and your inner panic for being out of work, the interviewers “smell” that something is not right, even if you do everything else right during your ongoing interviews. By assuming this mantle, now you have vitiated your own prospects of landing a job that could easily be yours! With this “strategy” you have created a vicious cycle of interview rejections and bringing about a sense of doom for yourself.

Now, why would you want to do that to yourself?  

The problem with this mindset is that taking a random (Vs. an ideal) job, even after pursuing your ideal ardently and putting yourself through the company’s arduous interview process often results in a suboptimal outcome, robbing you of your ability to pursue more appropriate opportunities and cause you to regret your decision. Thus, you now have to suffer through the next few years of marginally engaging in a job you dislike—or even hate—only to postpone what you’ve should waited for to land the right job from the get-go.

So, what are the strategies to avoid this ugly scenario and how to take charge of your destiny in a positive way? Here are some proven ideas:

  1. If you have been laid-off (or even fired) do not jump right back into looking for your next job on the rebound. Step back and do some serious thinking about what you really want to do next based on any learning you many reflect on from what just happened.
  2. Depending on your own psychological make-up, immediate emotional support available from those around you, and your financial runway, decide how much time you have before you need a “Plan B.” Such a plan can entail going on your own, taking a side gig, or finding some viable avenues to support your needs. If the job market has tanked in your area of work, you may want to start this from the get-go. Always churn that “Plan B” in your head as you progress through your job search.
  3. Prepare your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and all the supporting materials for launching your campaign. Do this with some forethought and incorporate lessons learned from your most recent (or current) job. Do not merely update your résumé to list the most recent adventures. At each waypoint throughout your career you must make the necessary changes to how your message comes across to your intended targets and manage that carefully. It is an investment in time and effort worth making, including seeking professional advice.
  4. Manage your network and refresh your connections with those, especially close to you so that you have their support during your job search. Merely submitting résumés by clicking on the job links results in only about 26% of the résumés getting through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Going through someone you know and using guerilla methods (sending prospect letters with some research, especially for senior roles) can provide you much higher differentiation in how you are viewed as a candidate.
  5. When you get a call for an interview do not just waltz into that session without fully preparing for all aspects of how you will be interviewed. This includes technical, leadership, behavioral, and often trick questions. So, find a good way to sharpen your interviewing skills by contacting the appropriate resources. LinkedIn now has a ProFinder section located under the Work section on the top bar (on the right side where you’ll see nine small squares). It lists many resources that can help you tap into the right expertise to sharpen your skills. Read my July 13 blog, Demystifying Video Interviews (https://bit.ly/3k6TOof) to prepare yourself in this Covid-19-era interviews.
  6. Always send a thoughtful thank-you email. Even if you make some faux pas during your interviews such notes allow you to remedy those in a positive way and leave a good impression with the interviewer. I cannot tell you the times when clients told me that they blew their interview with some wrong responses, where with the right note following the interview, we were able to get them back in the game, and sometimes, even the job they were after. Writing such notes takes some skill and practice.
  7. Even when you get a rejection email without any explanation do not trash that email and start sulking. Instead, send them a thank-you note (s) for letting you know the outcome and continue to show your interest in their company in other such job. Praise their interview professionalism and how well you were treated. Last week one of my clients received a rejection letter for a coveted job she was after. We responded by thanking them and showing ongoing interest in that company. The next day she received a note back from the VP in the hiring chain that they continued to be interested in her for other jobs in a different geography, which would be a much better landing for her, considering her geographic preference and job focus. Knowing how to write such “recovery” notes requires some skill and practice.
  8. Even if you feel confident and even if the company tells you to expect an offer from them “shortly,” do not just sit and wait for that to come through. Continue building your pipeline and continue to interview. Often telling the next company that you are expecting an offer soon can change the way they look at you as a candidate; don’t lie to finesse a job offer, it can backfire.
  9. If you have multiple offers, make sure that you pick the one that is going to give you the most promise and the most compatible boss than a one that gives you most money. Sometimes, you can be lucky and get both.
  10. During this journey if you land a suboptimal job consider accepting it, especially if you have had a string of rejections. Waiting for that ideal job to come through may not always work in a soured economy and if your psyche has taken a beating through many earlier rejections. Here, you must now decide between your original Plan-B and this suboptimal job; not always an easy choice!

Good luck!

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