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Career Corner: Interview Breakup Aftermath

Staying in touch with employers who turned you down could lead to opportunities in the future. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

Have you ever had a great job interview go south? If you were the job seeker, perhaps you weren’t picked right at the very end — after a lengthy interview process. Or, if you were the hiring manager, a candidate that you gave a great offer to turned you down.

These things can happen to the best of us. As a job seeker, it’s possible that the company had two excellent candidates. Ultimately, the selection of one over the other may be somewhat random. As a hiring manager, the candidate may have gotten another offer — or perhaps there was something else misaligned for them. Or, maybe their existing employer finally followed through on their promises.

Whatever happened and whether you were the candidate or the hiring manager, it can often be a stressful situation. It’s a rejection. You know that you may have to start your process over and it may take months. It can hurt your feelings. It can feel like a rejection. It may even feel like a breakup.

Very often, we want to write the person off completely. We might want to befriend them on LinkedIn, and never return another email. But, this is where we’re getting it wrong.

The world is a small place. Your industry may be small too. And, with the rate at which we’re all switching jobs these days, you may cross paths with this person again in the future. They might end up working for you. Or, you might end up working for them. Or, you may even need them to be a referral for a future opportunity.

The point is we need each other. And, very often, hiring decisions aren’t as personal as they feel. When you’re rejected, do your best to put your hurt feelings aside. Be professional. Stay in touch. You never know what may come in the future.

I can attest to this from personal experience. One of my all-time favorite jobs, I was rejected for the first time I interviewed at the company. I’m not sure why, but I decided not to take it personally. I stayed in touch with the hiring manager via email every few months for close to two years. I kept him up to date on what I was working on. One day, he asked me to meet up for a coffee. And, it was in that coffee meeting that he asked me to come work for him.

I was so excited and it turned out to be one of the most important jobs I’ve ever held. But, I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t been able to be professional and stay connected. And, the company also had to be willing to be professional and stay open.

The next time you’re rejected, put the hurt aside (after you’ve had a little time). Stay connected with the company. Remember, there may be future opportunities that are a fit.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

September 14, 2019

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Angela Copeland


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