Monday, March 17, 2008

Turning a Rejection Into an Opportunity

The pubs will be full today with revelers celebrating St. Patrick's Day, but the truth is many people will be swilling that green beer not to celebrate, but to drown their sorrows.

Times are tough, as any job seeker will testify. The latest news of Bear Stearns Cos. being sold at garage sale prices has sent another shudder through the job seeking masses, because they know that more people are nervous and will begin dusting off their resumes to join the ranks looking for new work.

Looking for a job is tough, and rejections are never easy to handle.

But there's something that many job candidates miss: "No" doesn't always mean "no."

Sometimes a hiring manager tells you that you didn't get a position after you've interviewed, and you consider that the end of the road. Time to head for the green beer, right?

Wrong. Now is the time to use that contact -- however brief -- with the hiring manager to establish a firmer relationship. Begin by saying that you really like the company, and would like to be considered for another position. Is there anyone else the hiring manager could refer you to? Being able to use the hiring manager's name with another department head is very valuable.

Also, tell the hiring manager that you would like to learn from the process. Was there something you did or did not do that eliminated you from the position? Was there a particular skill that the winning candidate had? Most managers will remember positively the job candidate who didn't take his or her rejection personally, but instead focused on personal improvement.

Another idea takes some chutzpah: Inquire whether the hiring manager knows anyone else who is hiring. Managers belong to professional associations and have networks of friends and colleagues that may be looking for qualified job candidates. Even if they don't know someone right away, your name will come more easily to mind in the future because you inquired specifically about it. Be sure and follow up in a couple of months with the manager to still express your interest in working for the company -- persistence often pays off.

Finally, make sure that you send a hand written note to the manager, thanking him or her for the consideration and giving your best wishes for the company's success.


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