Two of my clients recently landed jobs after they had gotten the “Thanks, but no thanks” reply. Both had done a great job in their interviews, but in each case there were other qualified candidates who better matched the hiring managers’ requirements. So how did they get the jobs after their initial rejections, you might be wondering? They used two different creative approaches:

Setting up a meeting right after the rejection. In one instance, my client was rejected from a large Seattle architectural firm because she lacked the depth of experience they were looking for as they expanded their projects internationally. “While I had interior design experience, I hadn’t done a large scale shopping mall project,” said my client. She interviewed with the firm but was told, “While we were impressed with your background and qualifications, we decided to move forward with another candidate who better matched our requirements.”

“This didn’t come to me as a surprise, but I knew if I didn’t get this experience, I would not progress in my career,” my client told me. “So I went ahead and pinged the hiring manager and asked to meet over coffee for fifteen minutes.”

The hiring manager accepted the meeting and my client said to him, “I would love to learn more about your expansion plans and what your major challenges will be going forward and/or what you’re currently experiencing.” To her surprise, the hiring manager gave her all the selling points she had missed during the interview. She said that it seemed he was more relaxed since they were in an informal setting. She then articulated her experience matching his needs and he asked her to join the firm on a temp-to-hire basis. After a monthly review, she’s close to landing the full-time gig and says the experience she’s gained has been invaluable.

Maintaining a relationship post- rejection. In another instance, my client got rejected by a large local accounting firm because another applicant had a longer tenure in the accounting industry. “Paul, I was sure I nailed the offer,” she said, “because it perfectly matched my background.” The human resources person was also impressed with my client’s background, but unfortunately the company didn’t select her.

“I decided to keep in touch and send both the hiring manager and HR representative quality referrals or articles I had read that would be of interest to them,” said my client. She chose to do this because this company was one of her top ten employers on her marketing plan. “After sixty days, they contacted me and asked if I was still interested in the position, saying the incumbent they had chosen didn’t work out.” To her surprise, she got her dream job. She’s grateful she made the decision to maintain contact when most applicants in her shoes would have walked away.

Is it possible to turn every rejection into a job offer? I highly doubt it, however it seems that in the scenarios above, these folks were focused, passionate, and knew exactly what they wanted — and therefore devised a plan to get it.

How have these stories inspired you or changed your perspective on how to treat rejection letters? Are you going to do anything differently next time?

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