Don’t Reject Yourself in a Job Search

When You Apply And Don’t Hear Back, Or Get Rejected

You may feel you are the most qualified candidate on earth for a role, but they still sent you a rejection form-letter. Often the reason is not because you aren’t good, but rather that their screening process is flawed. The hiring manager is most likely not doing the initial screening, for example. Instead, a computer or an HR manager screens the resumes, i.e. someone (or something) that doesn’t know the job well. This less-than-optimal screening process can miss great candidates like yourself. So take the extra step and reach out to the hiring manager directly with a persuasive email (don’t even mention the job posting, there’s no need).

I’ll never forget one client’s experience when he applied for a CFO position. After submitting his resume and cover letter with the application, he took the additional step of finding the hiring manager’s email address and persuasively making the case that they should meet. After following up with a phone call, he got the meeting, which ultimately led to interviews and an offer. While I was helping him to negotiate their offer (which he ultimately accepted), he received one of those automated rejection letters from the HR applicant tracking system!

When There’s Nothing Available Now

Well that’s that, back to the drawing board, right? You know the answer. The key here is to stay in touch with the hiring managers that you’ve met, so when something does open up in their group or in their colleague’s department, they think of you. When you’re in a job search, stay in touch every three to six weeks by sending a simple, short, “hello and update” email; don’t ask if they’ve heard about anything, they know what you want. Just update them on your progress and thank them once again for talking with you. Other variations on this keeping in touch email include sending additional thoughts, or sending them a link to something that you think would help them.

When They Have Objections To Your Candidacy

They tell you that you don’t have a certain skill that they are looking for, or another candidate has more experience in a certain area than you do. Armed with this information, you now have an opportunity to turn this apparent “no” into a “yes.” Influence the outcome through writing a persuasive follow-up email. Do whatever it takes to close the deal. Don’t just write a “thank you” letter, that’s the bare minimum that won’t differentiate you from the competition or overcome any issues they have.

My clients have changed the outcome in their favor through this kind of follow-up. The key is to surface objections to your candidacy in the interview (e.g. ask “how do I measure up against the other candidates?”), listen carefully for problems they face that you can help with, and then address all of this in your follow-up. Clients have even written proposals, offered to demonstrate value through helping with something specific prior to receiving an offer, or described what they would do in the first 90 days on the job. You don’t have to do these things, these are just ideas that worked in their specific situations.

One Caveat

You do have to know when to call it quits. Some people may simply not be interested, period (it’s not personal, just business). If you continue to bother them, you are burning a bridge to future opportunities, or worse. If they give you a clear message that they aren’t interested, let it go. And make sure you don’t leave lots of messages, leave just one or two.

If you do ultimately get rejected for a position, learn from it and keep moving forward like all good salespeople do; each failure is just one more step on the path to success.