Job Rejection! A ‘no’ is not the end!

A rejection does not mean you are a hopeless candidate, it just indicates that you may not be the right fit for a particular role or company.

April 09, 2014 4:28 IST | India Infoline News Service
Facebook reject went on to sign a $19 billion deal with the company that once did not consider him worth employing… This story about WhatsApp founder Brian Acton is fast becoming the stuff of legend. However, equally interesting is what Acton posted online in the year 2009 once he was told he wasn’t getting the job – “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure.”

Hey, even Twitter didn’t think Acton had what it takes. “Got denied by Twitter HQ. That's ok. Would have been a long commute,” is what he had posted on his, ahem, Twitter account after getting to know of the rejection.

As a recruiter, it’s these two sentences by Acton that have really caught my attention in the entire ‘WhatsApp sold to FB” saga. If only our candidates reacted so positively when informed that they were not considered a suitable fit in the companies we had helped them contact for job change. While the more positive ones shrug and move on with a  “I
t’s their loss if they are not hiring a talent… I was doing good in my current company and another new company has recognized my talent,” more often than not I’m faced with reactions like “How is that possible? I had an hour long interview with the CEO? Was I being led along for the last 6 months only to be rejected now?” Oh yes, I have had one of these too. Worse, he insisted on speaking directly to the MD about his rejection, only to earn himself a black mark.

To be fair, rejections are sad news, especially in these lean times, what with the Indian economy in doldrums. But it is especially in times as these when candidates need to be more positive about rejections. For, when the economy is in a bad shape, companies tend to be very conservative in hiring and one may not get selected for minor points that work against him. For instance, the candidate I was taking about earlier was rejected because, according to the hiring heads at the pharma major that rejected him, he did not display “energy”. Their exact words to me were, “The role we were interviewing him for requires one to display energy and aggression, which during our interaction with him we felt was lacking.” Now, they did not understand that the candidate having cleared up to 7 rounds for a role he really aspired for, was understandably nervous and maybe just slightly subdued. Does that make him a bad candidate? Not at all. The hiring heads can also be excused for misconstruing his nervousness as lack of energy and aggression.

However, going back to my earlier point about positivity about rejections, it is very important for candidates to not take a rejection as the end of the world. For that may force them to take wrong decisions. And this also comes from experience. In fact, even as we speak I have among my candidates someone who is aggressively looking for a job as his current firm is downsizing. Now, having been rejected in an interview, this particular candidate seems to be losing hope. If we are not careful he may end up accepting positions in minor firms which will give his entire career graph a negative turn.

Therefore, my advice to jobseekers in today’s times: A rejection does not mean you are a hopeless candidate, it just indicates that you may not be the right fit for a particular role or company. Similarly, HR heads agree that judging a candidate in even an hour’s worth interview is tough. So, when faced with a rejection slip, sit back and review. Always go back to your consultant to discuss what went wrong because HR heads are able to explain freely to consultants the reason for rejecting a candidate. Even this can be illustrated with an example. My consultants were dealing with a candidate who had appeared for the job of a senior manager with an MNC.

Unfortunately he was rejected in the final round and was understandably upset about it. My consultant, after having a detailed talk with the hiring head discovered that the candidate in question was seen as lacking on the commercial aspect. It took a little convincing but in the end, the candidate in question took the entire episode on the chin as a learning experience and went on to have better interactions after some training in the above aspects.

So, take time out to iron out the wrinkles and go to the next interview with your head held high and a confident smile.

The author is Managing Partner, Antal International

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