Not all news is great in career searches. A seeker will feel that the résumé is perfect, the cover letter compelling, and the job requirements a perfect match for her experience. The call comes, the interview is scheduled and completed, and she waits for the offer. Instead, rejection follows. It happens. What is next is completely up to the seeker. Here are three potential reactions.
Assume the fetal position and whine. Alright, maybe not literally, but in every other way. Job seekers take the rejection at the most personal level and retract into their shells, unable or unwilling to see that the opportunity may not have been as perfect as first thought. Or it’s possible that there was some bad chemistry between the candidate and the interviewer. Or there was an equally strong candidate willing to do the job for a lower salary. Or, or, or. No means no, but nothing more than that. Unless Connie Candidate had a total meltdown in the interview or committed some egregious faux pas, the reason for the decision will likely never be known. Move on before the rejection kills confidence.
Get mad. Much like the “Woe is me!” reaction above, this is just another inappropriate emotion for something that is not entirely in the seeker’s control. Anger and the accompanying reactions – denial, obstinacy and bitterness – will not serve the seeker well. The job search is, in part, a numbers game. There may be one job and 10 qualified candidates, or 100. While anger can offer some emotional fuel, too much can lead to irrational and damaging decisions.
Learn from it. This is the best option by far. A detailed self-debriefing can pay huge dividends, especially if it is done immediately after the interview. Thoughts on which to reflect could include the following. Which questions caused me the most grief? Which questions allowed me to give my strongest answers? How could I have told my stories more effectively and concisely? If I could go back and answer one question again, which one would it be and what would I say differently?
Rejection will come to all but the most fortunate job hunters. Prepare yourself for it and give yourself a pep talk on what you will do when it happens. Which will describe you when it happens: quivering mess, ball of rage, or wiser and smarter professional? Your reaction is up to you and one of the only parts of the process that you control.