Handling Rejection

Lea Alcantara

There is a great project. You really want it. And you try your hardest to win it. But the opportunity goes to someone else.

Ah, rejection. C’est la vie, oui? Wrong.

I was conversing with a friend and colleague about her new job, which she was actually passed over for months before. At that time, when she didn't get the job, she wrote a personal thank-you note to the people involved in considering her. She even personally delivered cookies. She was gracious through and through.

A few months later, when a contract position opened up, she was immediately called back and subsequently hired. They didn’t have to waste money or time interviewing her all over again — they knew who she was. She didn’t let them forget her.

Keep the Door Open

When you miss out on a great opportunity, do you do anything after the rejection? Do you send a thank you note? Or a thank you email, at the very least? I bet the majority of us — myself included — just take the rejection and move on. But, responding to rejection like that may mean losing future opportunities.

Here’s what you have to remember: not winning a job isn’t a rejection of you completely. It may simply be that you weren’t the right fit at the time. And even if you went through an in-depth discovery process and were in the final running, remember you passed all those initial hurdles. They like you and see something you have to offer. Don’t throw this away.

Instead, handle "rejection" differently:

  • Always be gracious — there’s no need to hold grudges
  • Always follow up — either a phone call or personal written note for really important leads; a courteous email for the rest
  • Always leave on a good note, with a good impression — how you do this is as unique as you are
  • Be genuine — my friend’s behaviour worked because this is how she actually is in real life with friends, let alone work. People can spot insincerity and that can leave a bad impression.
  • Remind them what you offer and that you’re always available for other projects, positions, etc. — you never know if they have something else in the queue for you
  • Ask if there’s anything you could have done differently or why the other person was chosen — hey, it never hurts to ask, right?

We focus so much on first impressions that we forget that we also want to have a lasting impression. Being gracious in the face of missed opportunities may be the deciding factor in receiving future opportunities.

Original, unedited post on lealea.net

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