Congratulations! You have just received the following email in your inbox:
“Thank you for your interest in the position. Ours was a difficult decision due to the number of highly qualified applicants, but we have selected a candidate who is a match for the requirements of the position.
We appreciate you taking the time to apply for the position and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
Unfortunately, this is how a “great opportunity” ends most of the time. Then begins the sulking and wondering what happened. Most job seekers will survive and move on to the next opportunity and eventually find something. But let’s suppose this was your best opportunity or maybe you have been coveting this company and position for months. Why should this be the end?
As a career coach, I am always looking onward, upward, sideways, below and even behind to see where my education, experience, skills and opportunity may lead me to next. I recently received one of these “carefully canned” emails indicating that I was not selected for an interview despite my applicable qualifications. Fortunately, the email contained the name and phone number of the hiring manager. In my case, I have my sights on another opportunity in the same organization but within a different department that I am even more qualified for, more interested in with better pay. I almost immediately picked up the phone and made a phone call. I left a voice mail which said, “Thank you for your email. I appreciate knowing where I stand on the position. I also want to discuss with you what you know about this other position and department.”
Five minutes later Lisa called me back and we had a very pleasant conversation detailing what the manager of that department is like, the culture and environment of that department, and the connections and interaction she has with the other department. I was given the name of the hiring manager and was assured that she is on LinkedIn and would probably accept a connection request. I also asked Lisa if she was on LinkedIn and was told she had not yet joined. In my thank you letter to Lisa, I offered to bring my LinkedIn training to her and her department. I also asked if I could send her my resume directly which I have done.
So how can anyone turn a rejection letter into an opportunity letter?
- Change your perception of what was just communicated. This is simply a notification that they are cutting off the recruitment for this position. They may have already had someone in mind and they are moving forward with the internal transfer/promotion. Maybe they have only selected the interviewees and if you call now, it may prompt them to invite you in for an interview. “Thanks but No Thanks” isn’t the end!
- Many rejection letters provide contact information. Often, the letter provides a name, number and an email. You have been granted a key to open a door to contact someone in the company. Some emails you cannot respond to but that shouldn’t stop you from doing a little more digging. You may now get past the gatekeeper by saying, I just wanted to thank so and so for the job opportunity I was given to apply. (Sugar goes a long way)
- Be gracious for the “bad news.” When contacting the hiring manager, simply start by thanking them for letting you know where you stand. Be courteous and have a GOOD question or two prepared that isn’t “Why wasn’t I selected?” Ask them about their company. Ask them if they filled the position internally, if so, ask if a vacancy was created by the transfer/promotion. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them succeed.
- Offer your expertise. In your discussion, you may find something about the manager, department or company that you are the cure for. Offer your assistance as a consultant, even if it is donated time. It is much more effective to stick your “leg in the door” than just a mere “foot.”
- Connect. Don’t let this conversation be a forgotten moment. Connect on LinkedIn or other social media. Keep the contact information in a safe place. This could be a key to future opportunities with this company.
- Follow up. Do what you say you will do. Share information you find that could benefit the company via blogs, articles, books other connections etc. If you intertwine you career into the company before you are hired, they may just decide to start paying you. That is how I got my current job.
It is easy to get discouraged when this happens but hang in there. A rejection letter is only as “opportunity ending” as we decide it is. Keep plugging away and reach out to people in a way they aren’t expecting. You may impress someone enough to get that OFFER LETTER simply by turning the rejection letter into an opportunity letter.