By Marc Poirier, General Manager of Abbey Placements LLC
I hate it. You hate it too. You and I may appear tough, but every time it happens it hurts us a little bit. And sometimes it hurts us more than a little bit. We subconsciously make decisions to avoid it because we fear getting hurt by it. But it has been happening our whole lives and it’s going to continue to happen until we die. We can’t avoid it, so what are we supposed to do about it?
Thankfully, rejection in hiring is not all bad. In fact, for all our feelings of loathing, rejection can be quite beneficial. Or at least, how we respond to rejection can be beneficial. Specifically within the hiring process, rejection is a pruning mechanism to bring health to your career and health to your future place of work. Consider the benefits:
Rejection Helps You Avoid the Wrong Fit
Imagine if every application led to a new hire. How careful would you have to be about selecting where to apply? “I could always quit,” you may say. True, but how long would it take you to know that the job was a bad fit before you made that decision? It is better to have a knowledgeable hiring manager screen you out before you either get in over your head, become completely miserable, or hurt yourself and the company. As much as we hate to admit it, hiring managers usually know better than applicants whether or not a candidate will be successful and happy. It’s their job to know their business, profile their business’s needs, and hire talented people with the right motivation and personality fit. Instead of leading you on, a hiring manager’s rejection may be saving you from working at a job that will be the wrong fit.
Rejection Makes Your Future Workplace Better
Someday you will get a job. When you do, you are better off if the hiring manager rejected other candidates before you. Undoubtedly, a workplace full of unhappy, untalented people would develop without a rejection process. Because success often depends on your coworkers’ performance, having a top-notch team means ultimately you will be more successful. And happier. And safer. Although we tend to only think of ourselves when we are rejected for a job, in actuality we are usually one of many people pruned from the hiring process. It’s part of what makes the companies we desire healthy.
Rejection is an Opportunity for Gaining Wisdom
Each time you are rejected, you can choose to ignore the reason or learn from the reason. The reason is not always clear, but there are nearly always clues that point to what led to rejection. Look for patterns. And when possible, ask for feedback. Your inquiry and consideration will eventually give you invaluable feedback about yourself and how others perceive you. What we think about ourselves and what others think about us are often different. Being self-aware in future hiring processes will help you find better fits and present yourself more clearly. It will also build your fortitude for negative feedback and help you in your future workplace. What worker has never had an idea or suggestion shot down?
Soft Rejection May Lead to Acceptance
You may notice that not every rejection is equally firm, especially if you have seen a lot of rejection. Let’s say a hiring manager says, “We are delaying our hiring for this position for one month.” Did that mean they would never hire you? Certainly not! Maybe they are being honest and asking you to check in next month. Frequently applicants in this situation move on and do not reapply. Those other candidates’ loss can be your gain. If you reapply when the company is ready to hire, you may get the job uncontested! Other “soft” rejections may include something like, “You do not have a certain skill or experience.” If you actually have that skill or experience, let the hiring manager know and see if this revelation changes anything. Perhaps you could even learn a skill or get some experience and reapply in a short period of time. Facing frequent rejection will help you identify when rejection is actually a misunderstanding and or when you should be more persistent.
Stay hungry in your search for the right job. Losing your appetite because you faced some rejection is the wrong response. Be persistent and learn from it. And remember: rejection is healthy for you and your future workplace.