No Today, Yes Tomorrow

Rejection is part of the human experience. Even those exuding confidence wrestle with concerns of not being wanted. They’re human too, right? Their ability to risk hearing a no, and move past the no’s they’ve received along the way, is what sets them apart from the crowd.

As a recruiter I encountered rejection on a regular basis. My experience was two-fold. There was the rejection dealt to my team and to me as salesmen and there was the rejection my candidates had to face when corporate clients chose other options. Had I been the type to allow my fear of no’s to overwhelm my desire to find the yes’s in life, I would have had a very short career.

For myself, overcoming the urge to hide from the potential of rejection had a lot to do with keeping it in perspective. No’s didn’t mean I was being written off forever. They weren’t evidence I had no value. They simply meant what I was offering at that immediate moment was not a fit for the other person’s current needs. Forcing my mind to steer clear of self-doubt, I concentrated on finding ways to make myself what that person needed in the future. Many of my long term business relationships began with no’s and eventually grew into a yes once we were able to better understand what each of us needed and had to offer. For the times when the understanding was there, yet the yes wasn’t, the passage of time brought about the changes necessary to make what I was offering relevant. The opportunities I would have missed out on had I taken that initial no as a permanent verdict are too numerous to list.

My challenge to job seekers is to do your best to not let fear of rejection cloud your judgment and dim your motivation to get out there. Look at the no’s you receive as a learning opportunity. What do you need to convey better in the future? What don’t you have that you may want to gain to be more marketable? What changes in the economy, community and environment might result in the no becoming a yes down the line.

Sometimes the yes can follow a no even sooner than expected if you are willing to hold your chin up and continue to cultivate relationships with those who have rejected you. For example, it’s not uncommon for a company’s new hire to be struggling 3 to 6 months into a job. Typically, that’s the time frame most employers use to gauge if they’ve made a good hire. That’s the reason recruiters make a point to call companies a few months after they’ve hired someone. We want first dibs on helping them fill their position if a replacement is needed. You might be thinking, why would they work with a recruiter instead of simply calling the number 2 option they had for the job. If the number 2 option hasn’t kept in touch with the company, made it clear hearing from them in the future would be welcome and reiterated they were going to continue to enrich themselves in the areas the hiring manager felt they were lacking, the likelihood of a company going that route is slim. Think about it. What hiring manager wouldn’t feel like a heel calling a candidate and saying “even though you weren’t our first choice, the person we hired didn’t work out so we’d like to offer the job to you now?” It’s been my experience they would rather start the process all over again, relying on the confidentiality of a recruiter, than expose themselves to a potentially awkward situation. Don’t let it come to that with a company you would eventually like to hear a yes from.


  • Duck's Mom says:

    Lisa, I'm curious, how does a candidate get past all the no's when each time, they're told they were a finalist. For example, in the last three years I've had three really good interviews. The first I was candidate #3 for two positions, the second I was candidate #2 for one position and the last interview I was in the "top four." It's frustrating to always know that you're *this close* and yet so far away. I always make a connection with my interview for feedback, but I'm not gaining any helpful information.

    With today's economy, employers not only have the under- and over-qualified, but they have a multitude of those that fit the exactly qualified group. How does one stop being the runner-up?

  • Lisa says:

    Great questions, Duck's Mom. I've started and restarted a response for you a few times and keep scrapping what I'm writing because it's getting way too long. That tells me it needs to be a separate post. So, in your honor, I'll be posting soon on the topic of soliciting feedback from hiring managers. You may even see it today, so keep an eye out.

    To answer your questions in basic terms, the quality of the answers you get from a decision maker is usually tied to the quality of the questions posed by the candidate. If the information you are getting isn't all that helpful, it's possible the way you are going about asking for feedback needs some tweaking. I'll share techniques for soliciting feedback in the post I'll be writing in your honor.

    There are times when the questions are perfect in timing and content and the answers still aren't helpful. That usually means there is some sort of awkward factor involved. Maybe the feedback you need to hear isn't something anyone wants to commit to words. If there is something about your personality, attitude, hygiene, etc., that is coming up short, that's the stuff you are least likely to hear about. I'm not saying this is your issue, I'm just being straight forward about human nature and how we are wired to steer clear of the landmines associated with those types of things. It's also possible the decision maker has an experience in his or her past where feedback was given and a person went to pieces. If they've had a mess in their past from someone handling constructive feedback poorly, they may be less inclined to go that route again.

    By the way, you may have inspired an additional post. It's my experience in talking with decision makers few companies are finding they have a multitude of candidates who fit the "exactly qualified group." They are a bit perplexed over the problem considering unemployment in Michigan just spilled over 15%. There are several reasons why this is the case and now I'm thinking we need to discuss it here so everyone can noodle over it a bit.

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