The Art of Rejection, Part II - For Candidates: Handling Rejection Gracefully

At Gray Scalable, we know how important it is to match the right candidates with the right companies.  We hope every interview results in a perfect fit – but we also know that some of them won’t.  Here’s part two of a two-part guide for both candidates and clients to brush up on The Art of Rejection.  You can find part one, The Art of Rejection - For Companies, here.

By Deb Feldman
February 21, 2014

Just because I’m a recruiter, doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the other end of the rejection conversation.  I’ve left interviews pumped up and sure I had it in the bag, only to hear the thunderous sound of silence that followed.  Here’s how to handle rejection gracefully:

Follow Up
Having done a lot of high-volume recruiting, I actually really appreciate it when a candidate follows up with me – even if I’m going to reject them for that job, I’m more likely to consider that person again the next time around if their follow up is that right mix of persistent, but not too persistent

Reject Them Well Too
It’s not just the company interviewing that’s doing the potential rejecting here.  Remember, as a candidate, you are interviewing the company as a prospective employer as much as they are interviewing you as a possible employee.  So, if the match just isn’t there for you, make sure to handle that with as much sensitivity as you’d hope they would with you.  Accepting a competing offer is the easiest way to bow out of the process. But if you haven’t landed yet, it’s still important that you close the loop right.  They’ll respect that you’re not just looking for any old job – and will respect your honesty if you let them know the objective reasons you don’t want to pursue the job anymore.   That leads to the next point….

Stay Classy
Remember that this is a very, very small world. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have connected us globally and have made it even smaller.   Your reputation will follow you, so the way you react to rejection will too. 

Take the Hint
Sometimes, companies are just plain bad at closing the loop.  Or, sometimes, they string candidates along forever because they can’t deliver a tough message (think about Milton from Office Space never quite getting fired).  Maybe they’ve intentionally gone dark – or maybe they just got too busy.   Either way, if a hiring manager or recruiter has stopped replying to your follow-up emails or calls – it’s probably time to move on.  

Don’t Take to the Airwaves
Even if you don’t like the outcome – or the way the company managed the message to you – it’s best to keep your feedback about that off of social media.  You won’t change the outcome, and you run the risk of damaging your own reputation. 

Remember that candidates and companies alike struggle with rejecting.  Best thing to do is not to take it personally, to learn from whatever feedback you do receive, and to use that information to shape what it is you’re really looking for in the next career move. 

Charlie GrayComment