Thought I'd repost this from my personal blog (boldlybicoastal.com). It's hard to go through several phone screenings and a battery of interviews, get your hopes up, only to have them dashed with "We've decided to go in a different direction." Nobody wants to hear that when they are in job search mode. Rejection is hard. And it's even harder not to lash out in anger. But think twice before doing so, regardless of how hurt you are. Several years ago, I was rejected and chose to deal with it gracefully. Here's my story in the hopes that it helps you through rejection if/when it happens to you.
We need to go back in time to when I was still living in DC, planning to move, but hoping to land a full time job in Seattle to do so. I had two great phone interviews with an organization, and was then selected as one of three finalists for the position, which I attended in person, in Seattle. I loved the people I interviewed with, loved the work to be done, and truly knew this was the job for me. I was subsequently disheartened to learn that while they would have loved to have brought two people on, there was only one position and another candidate was selected. They made it clear that it was a difficult decision.
I received the news with grace, despite being something akin to heartbroken. I remained in touch with both the recruiter (let’s call her Sarah) and hiring manager (let’s call her Beth) I really enjoyed them as people and wanted to get to know them and there was the possibility that I could still make a contribution as a consultant. So, I connected on LinkedIn, met in person after my permanent return to Seattle – having lunch and just keeping in touch.
Fast forward a couple of months. I’m living in Seattle, looking for a job and having quite a number of interviews, even making it to finalist in a few. After arriving home from an interview one day, I received a call from Sarah. It seems the person they’d hired instead of me had decided to leave the position. Their first thought was to bring me in, so they were reaching out to see if I was interested. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. THE JOB I’d wanted and dreamed of was falling into my lap! I’m not often speechless, but I most certainly was that day. Five months had passed, but they remembered me, the way I’d handled the ‘rejection’, and the connection I’d continue to make with them. After ironing out some details, I was brought on board, and began the work.
I’ve shared this story with a number of people. It’s such a great example of not burning bridges, handling things graciously even when you are disappointed, and having faith, simple faith. I remained confident the right job would be there for me, just as I knew returning to Seattle was the right move. I've since moved on, returning to independent coach/consultant, but the events of that remarkable time remain a story worth sharing.
So the lesson here is simple. Be patient. Be gracious. Never burn a bridge. You can’t recover from a bad impression, and a good impression lasts indefinitely.