Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This is not your Exit

Welcome to Job Search Paradise. I’m your Employment Fairy. This will be a wonderful, tranquil experience. As the philosopher says: Don’t sweat it. Throw together a simple resume. (Don’t spend too much time on it. Remember: I’m doing all the work for you. And don't forget you have that spa massage this afternoon.) Find a couple of listings for that special job you really want—the one with the incredible salary and benefits. In no time, you’ll have several companies engaged in a bidding war for your unique, indispensible services. You will be able to take the one with the most money and the least number of hours......


I would love to tell you that your job search journey will be a smooth and speedy trip. I would love to tell you that you will find that perfect job very quickly. I know there are those who’ve had this experience, but that would be the exception. (Those folks aren’t reading this blog because they are at work…and we hate them anyway!)

Since we’ve talked about perseverance (part of the earlier GPS series of posts), it’s important to also talk about one of the primary reasons we need that “stick-to-itiveness.” Rejection! It’s my belief that only actors and writers see more rejection than job seekers. (When I was trying to get my first novel published, I considered wallpapering my office with the rejection letters.) It’s just part of the process. If we’re thin-skinned and overly sensitive, it can definitely have an emotional impact. A severe and negative emotional impact!

In job searching, there are various kinds (or degrees) of rejection. First, there’s what we’ll call the “Broad” rejection. (Which has nothing to do with not being a big-shouldered woman in the 1930s) When we send out a resume and never hear back from the company, that’s the broadest kind of rejection. It’s also the most impersonal. For me, it has little emotional consequences, beyond mild annoyance. (The least they could do is acknowledge receipt of my material! Is that asking too much?)

A more personal kind of rejection (let’s call this one “Close Enough to Leave a Bruise” rejection) comes once we’ve had some contact with a potential employer. Typically, it’s after a phone interview or perhaps a face-to-face. For whatever reason (and we’ll talk more about that later), we are not invited to continue in the hiring process. (Don't we love that kind of non-negative phrasing?) This one carries more weight, since we were singled out of the myriads of resumes and allowed the opportunity of “selling” ourselves. Unfortunately, it was a “No Sale” and that hurts.

And then it gets more personal. We've gone through any number of interviews with a variety of people at various levels of the company/department hierarchy. And most importantly, we've been given the clear indication that we are a viable candidate for the open position. But when all has been said and done, they give the job to someone else. We’ll call this the “Punched in the Gut” rejection! As you might imagine, these kinds of rejections are traumatic.

Personal Experiences: In this job search, I’ve had two occasions when I’ve gone past the initial interview and been told I was one of the “finalists” for the job. (Why does that always sound like a beauty pageant?) Once it was down to three candidates and another time it was just two of us under consideration. Obviously, I didn’t get either of the positions.

In one (where I was one of two finalists), I was told they were going with the person with the most experience. (Huh? I’ve been in PR/Communications for 15+ years. Did they hire Grandma Moses?) In the other, following the fourth interview, I was told there were three finalists, including me. I never heard anything at all from that company. Even after two follow up emails and leaving a message on the voice mail of the hiring manager, no response at all. They chose not to inform me that I wasn't chosen. (If this were a beauty pageant, I didn't even win “Miss Congeniality!”)

So how do we handle rejection? I’m not one of those superstar motivational speakers, so I’m won't dazzle (delude?) you with positive platitudes and banal principles. (“Just one more NO on the way to YES” [cringe]“If you can picture it, you can have it” [shudder]) In the next few posts, I’ll simply relate some things that have helped me deal with this inevitable aspect of this journey.

In the meantime, I welcome your comments, suggestions and especially your stories about personal experiences with rejection.

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