Bryan heard his cell phone ring and felt his heart begin to pound. He slid his hand across the talk button and said “Hello.” On the other end was the hiring manager with the results of his job interview. She said “I want to inform you that we want to go into a different direction (that’s code for we don’t want to hire you.)” Ouch! As the tension drained, Bryan thought “What happened and where do I go from here?” Have you ever been there before? This scenario is common to many job seekers and in some cases it gets repeated over and over again.
Rejection is hard. If you allow it to chip away at your confidence, rejection can erode your appetite for taking chances and crush your professional future. So, how do you get there from here? Here are some tips on how to stay the course even after rejection, how to keep up your career transition momentum, and ultimately reject those job interview rejections:
- REMEMBER THAT YOU DID SOMETHING RIGHT: There are many who struggle to even get an interview (phone or face to face.) If you were able to secure this job interview (inside or outside of your organization), you will get another opportunity.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Victory loves preparation. If professional interviews make you nervous, practice with a friend or spouse as often as possible. Never turn away an opportunity to interview even if you are not sure of your interests. You can learn a lot about yourself each time you practice. It will only make you better. As part of the interview process, one firm may ask you to prepare a portfolio of your work for them to review, another may ask you to write a one-page document of why you are interested in that career, and other firms might ask you to complete a questionnaire laying out your interests and experiences. Since interview processes vary, you will acquire knowledge about your skills and desires and how others perceive you with each of these types of requests. While it may become exhausting, all of these activities move you closer, step by step, to securing your bigger, better future. So, when that great opportunity comes (the one who will say “yes”), you’ll be more prepared with a better insight of your strengths, opportunities, and what makes you a highly competitive candidate.
- COMPLETE A PROFESSIONAL PIVOT: You own your professional identity and image. Let’s face it. Not everyone will see the rock star that you see when you look in the mirror. If you receive an interview rejection, ask for feedback. It’s rare for employers to give you direct feedback about what they perceive as your shortcomings. Yet, it is more common for employers to share with you the desired attributes they were seeking. The hidden message here is that they don’t see you as having those experiences. Use that feedback to work on further defining your professional brand. Whether you believe the feedback was warranted or not, perception is reality. Often times, candidates may actually have the experience/capabilities, but fail to demonstrate those skills or paint the right picture of themselves during the interview. Acknowledge that your projected professional brand is broken and fix it before your next application process. (Please follow me to receive an upcoming article with a proven process on how to complete a professional pivot.)
- KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE: Remember that risk can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Don’t let the negative be the center. Stop worrying about rejection or someone saying “no.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Focus on the positive outcomes and what you will ultimately achieve at the end of this process.
- LOG ON: Write down important information about your transition process. Log when you have made progress. Log when you have setbacks, and reflect on why you believe each happened. Reading your notes over time will help you prepare to go the distance should you come across these same obstacles in the future.
- ALWAYS BE ON THE OFFENSIVE: You have your notes. Just like a football coach who scouts a rival team to identify their strength, weaknesses and tendencies so that he may adjust his offensive and defensive game plan to best position his team for success, you must do the same. Do your homework. In advance of the interview, think about why the interviewers might say no, and develop a counter argument. Adjust your game plan and go on the offensive by sharing your counter with them at the beginning of the interview before doubt could even creep into their mind. Don’t give them a reason to reject you. Also, develop a backup plan in case you don’t prevail. What are you going to say when you get that email or phone call that says “no?” This message may be a gracious concession statement that includes a pitch for you to be considered for other opportunities. You’ve just extended a bridge and lasting positive impression.
Don’t stop. Keep moving. Your new career is waiting for you! Use these tips as a bridge to get you where you want to be. You CAN get there from here.
Monica Sauls is a founder of CCLT and a corporate human resources leader with expertise in talent management, career development, change management, training, and organization development. In her additional time she writes, delivers speaking engagements, and coaches professionals—from entry-level employees to executives—to thrive from one stage of their careers to another. For more information about Monica, please visit http://monicasauls.com/