Thursday, February 18, 2010 myBiz Blog
Ask the Expert: Rejection by Kelly Cuene

My post-grad job search was awful – I mean really awful.  I did everything by the book:  applied for anything and everything I was qualified (and not-so-qualified) for, networked with industry professionals, prepped incessantly for my interviews, wrote thank you notes and never gave up hope that something would work out.  Job hunting took my entire senior year… blech.  Talk about exhausting. 

No one likes rejection.  But don’t be a sore loser.  As a recruiter, I get sworn at on a regular basis (I kid you not) by candidates who are upset that they are no longer being considered for our available positions.  These are usually emails that come in around 2:30am and have enough misspelled words that I can guess what the individual has been doing all night long.  The emails also tend to end with a line begging me to give them another chance – are you kidding?  I definitely want to give you a job after the string of profanities you just threw at me… 

So let’s focus on the silver lining of rejection:  It’s a chance to improve your resume, increase your interviewing experience, and become a little more humble when the right opportunity does come along.  

Ask for feedback:  In my experience you have a 50-50 chance of actually getting any feedback from employers.  If your recruiter is unable to share anything, simply thank him/her anyway and keep your nose to the grindstone.  If you are fortunate enough to receive feedback, hear it for what it is: a chance to improve yourself.  Poor interview skills?  Keep practicing.  Participate in mock interviews.  Resume not up to snuff?  Use the BCC resources to help you create a resume that will stand out from the crowd. 

Stay positive & appreciative:  Recruiters are all about finding the candidate who will be the best fit for an available position.  At the end of the day, there’s only one.  Secret: I take notes all the time about every step of the process.  Were you professional when I emailed you?  Were you timely in your responses to me?  It’s not just about the interview day.  You’re creating an impression from the moment you apply.  We often revisit candidate applications from several months ago when a new position opens up – if you were inappropriate during your previous correspondence with us you are definitely not getting contacted again. 

Don’t burn bridges:  On top of the swearing, my other favorite behavior to encounter is when a candidate will conduct a phone interview with another company during the time we scheduled for his/her lunch.  Um, no.  This is not happening.  First of all, you know better than that.  Second of all, you are not taking our interview process seriously.  And lastly, I wasn’t born yesterday – I know what you’re doing.  You just screwed yourself on a final-round interview with us for a first-round interview with another place.  

A lot of these tips are common sense, but really take them to heart.  If you already knew all these things you’re way ahead of the pack.  Stay positive.  Keep applying.  Something will come your way soon.


Michelle is an experienced human resources professional and a UW-Madison alum. In her "Ask an Expert" articles she tackles students' toughest career and recruiting questions, providing an employer's perspective so students can learn what campus recruiters REALLY think. To learn more about Michelle, view her intro post.