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because it's nice to say it twice

13 Comments // Filed in Featured / Business

Handling “Rejection”

So, someone approaches you for this grand opportunity. It’s a great project, job, whatever… You really want it, and you try your hardest to be “the chosen one” but at the end of the day, even if they point out you were one of the final two or that they do enjoy your previous work, they decide to go with someone else. Ah, rejection. C’est la vie, oui? Nothing you can do at this point, right?


This came to light for me when I was conversing with a friend and colleague of mine about a recent career change. In fact, she revealed that she applied for the same job a few months previous but she was passed over for someone else. Even though she didn’t get that job, she wrote a personal thank-you note to the people involved for considering her and even personally arrived at the office to give them some cookies. The person at reception thought she actually got the job because she was being so nice, when the opposite was true. She was gracious through and through.

… and a few months later, when a contract position opened up in this place, she was immediately called back and subsequently hired. They didn’t have to waste money or time interviewing her all over again — they knew who she was. She didn’t let them forget her because when the first opportunity passed her by, she didn’t hold any grudges and was also very clever in leaving a great impression.

When you are approached with a great opportunity and it just slips through your fingers, that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up shop and immediately move on. Do you do anything after a rejection? Do you write back with a thank you note at the very least? I bet the majority of us, and myself included, just takes the rejection letter/email/phone call and does nothing after. Or, the most is just a “thank you for your time.” However, dealing with rejection like this may mean losing future potential projects and positions.

Here’s the deal: If you’ve gotten so far with convincing them with something just to be passed over, that doesn’t mean it’s an outright rejection of you completely. It may mean that you weren’t the right fit for the job at the time. Some of us go go through a long interview process, and you passed all these initial hurdles — that means they actually like you and see something you have to offer. Don’t immediately throw this away.

So what did I learn about rejection after this?

  • Always be gracious — there’s no need to hold grudges
  • Always follow up — either with a phone call or personal written note
  • Always leave on a good note, with a good impression — how you do this is as unique as you are
  • Be genuine — my friend’s behaviour worked because this is how she actually is in real life with friends, let alone work. People can spot insincerity and that can leave a bad impression.
  • Remind them what you offer and that you’re always available for other projects, positions, etc
  • Ask if there’s anything you could have done differently or why the other person was chosen — hey, it never hurts to ask, right?

Anyone else have techniques or thoughts on how they handle a rejection?

13 blabs to Handling “Rejection”

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Picture of beth

Name beth

Date Dec 17
01:57 PM

I’ve experienced this first hand, interviewing for one job, not getting it, but then being considered for another. I just abide by the general rule to build bridges rather than burn them, and this is usually accomplished with lots of thank you notes :)

In regards to lost contracts, I always follow up with rejections immediately 1) after I’ve been given the notice as a means of saying thank you for allowing me to participate and 2) after the site/app has gone live and is publicly viewable.

In several instances, maintaining these lines of communications has resulted in my company being hired for sole-source work with that same organization or even to optimize/build on what my competition originally delivered.

Do your best to never burn bridges…

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Dec 17
04:21 PM

I forgot to mention the same goes for when you do the rejecting. Saying “No” doesn’t mean “The End.” I’ve also been contacted by people I’ve said no to with other projects that were more suitable for both our needs.

Also another thing in regards to what Beth mentioned — sometimes you can even charm a company to consider you for a completely new position, period. Smart companies and smart people will always recognize good talent and want to gobble you up. So, they may even FIND a place for you that’s better than the original position you were at — and it doesn’t hurt to suggest the idea yourself.

It’s kind of what my sister is doing right now. If it all works well, she would have singlehandedly created her own internship position, that never before existed, haha… I’m crossing my fingers for her.

This is how I got my first web design job. I interviewed, they forgot about me in the hustle and bustle of work, and when my thank you card arrived in the mail, they called me in for a second interview and hired me a day later.

Asking for feedback is huge. Let them be brutally honest about your work, appearance — whatever. Knowing the reason you were passed over can be hard to hear, but at least you can work on improving yourself.

Toni here, just found your blog, an interesting read. I would never have thought of following up a rejection but I will certainly give it a go. Thanks for the new perspective.

This is a great story. As someone who spends a lot of time putting together well formulated project proposals I tend to take rejection hard. I can see how gracious behavior and kindness can lead to it not be a wasted effort.

Picture of Fubiz

Name Fubiz

Date Jan 17
02:03 PM

Beautiful template!

Picture of ionworx

Name ionworx

Date Jan 23
07:58 AM

I wonder if they ate the cookies? Do you think they had a work placement bod taste them first?

Lea, great post. Being gracious in every situation goes a long way to building your reputation. I’ve had several projects I was not chosen for initially, come back to me later for this reason.

Picture of Jits C

Name Jits C

Date Jan 09
12:37 PM

This is a great post with a lot of good insight. I have just been turned down for my ‘dream’ opportunity and i just follwed your advice and graciously thank them.
If i do hear back i will send you a load of cookies :)
Thanks eitherways…

Picture of David

Name David

Date Jan 10
09:52 AM

I think it’s easier for a woman to handle rejection. Us guys have egos and it’s harder for us to “accept” it. LOL. Great points you make though.

If you can get over your ego to put a call through, you can handle everything else from there.
You don’t get to really lose anything do you?

This is so true and the bottom line is that getting on at work (or in life for that matter) is all about building relationships. So many career changers worry about lack of skills, qualifications, experience etc. Sure these play a part but your ability to play a positive part in the team is always up there at the top of the list of requirements, so anything you can do to show that you have these relationship building abilities is well worthwhile.
Cherry Douglas
Your Career Change Guide

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