Rejection or a Course Correction?

Thank you so much for your application for (YOUR DREAM JOB!!). You have tremendous skills and expertise. However, I am sorry but we have selected another candidate.

Unfortunately, most of us have heard that phrase some time in our career. Telling qualified applicants they didn’t get a job is difficult. Competition is fierce and numerous candidates possess the specific skills the organization wants and needs.

Organizations seek individuals with demonstrated superpowers that include operations, fundraising, strategic planning, DEI, board, and staff management.

Candidate selection often comes down to an inexplicable chemistry.

But the reality is that your feelings are hurt, and confidence bruised. Rejection was not what you expected; you are upset and self-doubt starts to take over. It is especially hurtful when an internal candidate is not selected for a leadership position.  

Updating your resume, writing a great cover letter, and contacting your references took a lot of time. The experience and qualifications listed in the job description closely matched your background.

The interviews were terrific, and you knocked it out of the park with your thoughtful responses. They laughed at your jokes and seemed to really like you.

Excited about the prospect, you told your family, partner, and friends you were a candidate. You imagined moving to another city, spending your new salary, and telling your coworkers and board members you are leaving. In your mind, you had already accepted the position.  

Take heart. There is probably a reason it happened. Perhaps now is time for a course correction.

Here are some lessons that might help:

  • Don’t take this personally. This is not a rejection of you or your qualifications and expertise. More likely the successful candidate brings a unique set of skills and experience the organization really needs.
  • Clarify your personal goals. What do you really want to do professionally and who do you want to become? What drew you to this position? Was it the salary, the prestige or power that comes with the job? Are you ready and prepared for the demands of the job?
  • Assess and build on your skill sets. If you lack experience in a particular area, enhance those skills. Ask for additional responsibility in your current job to support advocacy, strategic planning, administrative, or financial management to build your competence. Consider taking an online course to enhance your proficiency.
  • Consider this a course correction, not a failure. Learn from the experience and recognize this is not the right position for you now. Develop a strategy to prepare yourself for your dream job. Create an image for success.
  • Continue to develop ambitious goals. Clarity of purpose and mission will drive you to achieve what you know to be true concerning who you want to become. Crafting a vision will push you toward realization.
  • Don’t resign out of frustration if you are an internal candidate. Be transparent with the new leader and tell them you welcome change and growth and ask what you can do to help build the organizational future. You may be surprised that your job gets a lot more interesting.
  • Don’t give up. The late, great coach Jim Valvano said, “Never give up. Failure and rejection are only the first step to success.”
  • Determine what you want and need and work toward achieving that goal within the next two to three years. Don’t find yourself at the end of your career with regrets that you never achieved your vision. Today is the first day for creating the new you.

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