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From knock back to rock back: How to make getting turned down for a job a more positive experience

Posted on 26/09/20
From Knock Back To Rock Back 1


Getting rejected is never fun. Whether the knock back is personal or professional, it can still make you feel rubbish. And the more rejections you get, the more disheartening it can feel.

‘It’s not you; it’s me’ may be the classic refrain of every breakup, but it is also appropriate for many situations where you get turned down for a job.

And while we may not usually feel the need to wallow in a tub of chocolate ice cream when we find out we haven’t been selected for a role, a professional knock back can still easily spin into something more negative if the reasons are not communicated appropriately.

A recent letter from Johnson & Johnson’s Talent Acquisition Team, turning down a candidate for a communications role serves as a good example of how the right ‘no’ can make someone feel nearly as good as a ‘yes’.

In the letter, which the candidate, Linda Beltran, shared on Linked In, the company thanks the candidate for their application, saying, ‘though your achievements are impressive, they didn’t exactly line up with what we’re looking for in this particular role’. They then go on to give three reasons why it may not have worked out: timing, a shift in company priorities, and the possibility of more qualified candidates for the role.

Although every rejection is different, the principles are often similar and reflect things that are either nothing to do with us, or things we can do nothing about at that moment in time.

There are around 2,000 people Actively Seeking Work in Jersey, with Government figures for June 2020 showing 1,130 more people without a job than the end of the same period the previous year.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the unemployment rate in the UK from May to July 2020 was 4.1%, while the number of payroll employees from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) for August 2020 showed a drop of 2.4% from March 2020.

With the number of people out of work rising, recruiters may see an increase in candidates, some of whom will be experiencing rejection for the first time.

Helping candidates feel better about a ‘no’

The approach Recruiters and HR departments take to inform candidates they have not been selected for a role goes a long way to mitigating how a candidate feels about the rejection, and indeed, about the firm in the future.

This is something Kendrick Rose takes very seriously when communicating with their candidates.

Managing Director, Shelley Kendrick, said: “Candidates know they are not going to get every job they apply for but getting rejected bluntly after a long silence can make it feel a lot worse than getting the news in a kind and timely manner. We always try to keep communication channels open with candidates, giving as much feedback as we can, as quickly as appropriate.”

Feedback relating to skills or experience can help you work out what you are missing and give you the opportunity to address gaps before applying for a similar position.

Shelley said: “A good recruitment agency will only put candidates forward for roles they think they might be suitable for – no one wants to waste a candidate or a client’s time. This means job seekers get a more personal service and don’t have to go through the negative experience of rejections for jobs they don’t match up for.”

Dealing with rejection

It can be hard not to take things personally, especially if you have been turned down for a succession of roles at a late stage. However, it is always important to remember there are more jobs out there than you could possibly fill.

Shelley said: “Getting rejected at some point is just part of the process of getting closer to a role that is right for you. It allows you to test the market and see where your strengths lie. Sometimes a rejection can help a candidate take a fresh approach to what they want from a role and what they could give to it.”

Use a rejection to evaluate whether the firm or the job was right for you. Be honest with yourself about whether you think you would really have been happy or satisfied in that role and readjust your focus accordingly.

Shelley said: “Getting the right job is more important for long-term career success than getting any job. If a candidate has been made redundant, they can feel under a lot of pressure to get a similar level role as quickly as possible. For highly qualified people who have been in senior roles, it’s not always easy to find something immediately that ticks all the boxes. You might find a role that is perfect for your skills, but not for your experience, or one that offers the right salary, but not the right corporate culture for you.”

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From Knock Back To Rock Back 2

“Getting rejected at some point is just part of the process of getting closer to a role that is right for you. It allows you to test the market and see where your strengths lie." - Shelley Kendrick

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