I’m going to do this blog while it is fresh, so I can be honest with you. Today I got rejected from a consulting gig I was going to do for FREE. Honest. And the way I felt (feel) is really, really bad.
I had done a proposal that took a bit of thought; I had tried to communicate clearly to the hiring manager. I had been authentic, interested, curious, and it is a subject that I am at which I am a master (no kidding). And I still felt (feel) really, really bad.
So, it was a good reminder for me to rethink what advice I should give to my clients when they get turned down from jobs. I now know what to do that is realistic (from hard personal experience). Now, I can separate “coach speak” from what will work to get past rejection.
When one gets rejected, it is really, really (and I am repeating the words because they bear repeating) bad. To get past being rejected and feeling rejected, there are the “standard coaching chestnuts” your job coach may have offered:
1. Talk with the hiring manager to get feedback on what the job had required that did not show up in your credentials.
Okay, as of today, I will not offer you this advice. This is a difficult conversation to have, and despite every career coach suggesting this, the truth is that the hiring manager does NOT want to talk to you, will walk across cut glass to avoid you and if s/he does talk with you, will lie.
2. Have a talk with other people who are advisors/friends/allies to you about how you feel. This is also difficult, as your friends are dealing with their own issues and your piddling little rejection is repellent to them. (Save your friends and advisors for providing more recommendations, when you need them.)
So, my own hard won knowledge is that a job seeker should NOT the facile boilerplate advice in the two items above. Instead, do some introspection.
Reflection when failing is as important as reflection is when winning. Reflection enables me (and you) to make sense of what seems nonsensical. It helps you to move forward. And forward is where I (and you?) have to go after rejection.
Here are the questions I used (am using) to help in my reflection.
1. From the hiring managers point of view, what did I truly have to offer? I admit that since I was doing this for FREE, I did not make a great case for the value I would add. (Ouch!) The hiring manager wants value – preferably measureable, immediate value because she is under a great deal of pressure or because someone else will be at her side asking her what the value proposition is.
2. Remind yourself that the hiring process is highly subjective. Any indication that you are too old, too serious, not serious enough – you get it – any indication that you will not fit with the hiring manager will get you rejected before you can even send the “thank you for the interview” email out.
(Groan…I think it was my picture on LinkedIn that did me in. NO, I will not go there!)
3. Allow yourself to wallow. Yup. Life is not fair. The best don’t always win. You may not always be the best. Or the hiring manager may have some need not to have the very best (but the second best who went to the same MBA program he did, or whatever….)
4. After a period of time (not longer than two hours or so), STOP wallowing and get on to the next crucial action you will be taking to move your career forward. Come on… I’d rather my life be like “The Silver Linings Playbook” than “Les Miz,” wouldn’t you?
5. Begin to plan for the next interview by reading the local paper. For instance, I noticed, “Oh, wow, the South Park people are starting their own film studio…maybe I’d be perfect as a communication coach for them.” (Then I thought “Oh wait, I can’t stand talking about poo and I haven’t seen episodes of South Park since the first season. What am I thinking? I am not the right demographic for them.”). Ouch.
6. Finally, enlightenment occurs. “Self,” I told myself (am telling myself!) … “Stop thinking about pipe dreams and get ready for your next rejection.”
One of these job attempts will yield a job. You know the old chestnut…
“It takes a lot of failures to get to success.” This is the one chestnut I’m advocating.