You attended a series of interviews. You took time off of work. You bought a new suit. And you didn't get the job.
After all that hard work, rejection stings especially badly.
It's pretty awful when a company puts you through the ringer just to toss you aside in the end. Sometimes, they don't even notify you. They aren't shopping for a new pair of shoes. You're a person, and they should treat you like one.
What do you do once you've been rejected? If you're like most people, you stay as far away from the company as possible. They rejected you. Why would you want to pour salt in those wounds?
This is a totally reasonable response – but what if you chose to see the situation from a different perspective instead? What if this wasn't a complete rejection? Maybe hiring had been put on hold, or another candidate had been preselected, or your salary history was a bit high for the role. Perhaps the hiring manager felt you were overqualified.
We rarely know what the real reason for a rejection is. We tend to assume the company doesn't like us. But what if you decided not to take it personally? What if you looked at those interviews not as a dead end, but the beginning of a longer conversation?
If you did this, you might reach out to the hiring manager again in the future. You might keep an eye on new jobs that crop up at the company. You might even meet up with someone from the team every now and then for coffee.
What's the worst that could happen? The hiring manager might get to know you better. They might really like you. They might call you the next time they're hiring – maybe even before the position is shared publicly.
If you want to take this approach to rejection, you need to do two things first. Start by disengaging from the rejection. You have to be confident in yourself. Don't think: "This will never work!" Instead, think: "It wasn't the right fit this time."
Second, you need to recognize that this approach takes time. You won't immediately become the company's new top candidate. It could take years to build a relationship with the organization that rejected you – but I'd argue it's worth it.
If you take this approach across the board, you will grow your network more than you can imagine. Instead of searching for new jobs, jobs will come to you. Hiring managers will call you when you are a good fit. They will call when they can pay you enough and when they have jobs that really fit your skills.
So, the next time you're passed over for a job, what will your next move be? Complete rejection or conversation starter?
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.