Rejection: 5 Steps To Move Ahead After You Don’t Get The Job



I’ve never been that person that opportunity seeks out of a crowd like a guided cruise missal; not a fast tracker by any means. I’m more of a late bloomer but one who never gives up. Some might arguably, describe that trait in me as more of a character flaw.

Recently I applied for several internal positions at the company where I work. Four positions in all, each with increased levels of responsibility over that of my present role, and a different focus from my current job.

On paper, I was a perfect match to the posting. I was certainly qualified for each of the new positions; as well as my current Job, where my team and I have achieved outstanding accomplishments under my leadership.

So you may ask, “Why were you trying to leave your current position then, Joe?”

The answer is simple; I brought something unique to the table for each of the new positions I applied for.

For my part, there was only an honest desire to contribute to the success of the organization in a new way, to learn a new role/skill and increase my level of responsibility. I believe that those reasons would by default, increase the level of influence among my colleagues, the reach I have in the company and the level of respect in my industry.

Don’t get me wrong; I am extremely passionate about what I do. I consistently get “Above Average” results (far above average). There was never a question (in my mind) as to the relevance of the work my team and I perform. The reality is, I’ve challenged and prepared them for more responsibility in their jobs. Consequently, I’ve positioned them to continue getting the results our company has come to expect. Each of my team members have been conditioned to exceed expectations not just contribute.

Dating 101:

Applying for a new job is exciting; isn’t it? It’s a lot like dating. I experienced the entire gambit of dating feelings throughout this process; the excitement and anticipation of something new, that nervous expectation of being judged by people you want so badly to impress; the thrill of courtship.


I showed up to our first date (interview) with my best foot forward; cleaned, polished and dressed to make my best impression. I followed my own advice in session, AAJ003 Job Interviews: 6 Steps To Prepare For A Job Interview.

I presented with relaxed, confidence and the assurance that I brought something to the relationship that no other suitor’s did…

I was a leader, a change agent and evangelist for our company’s mission. Oh yes, I was all that and someone with proven results; hard evidence that my leadership works and connects with the workforce; because, I care about people first.

Some things in life are decided for us:

A friend of mine (Johnny G.), made this clear for me when he told me about a time when he was using a cell phone in the bathroom. He dropped the phone into the “loo”. While contemplating whether to go after it and fish it out of the stool, the automatic flush feature went off and made the decision for him.

 It’s not you, it’s me:

After a little bit of telephone tag with the HR Representative, I began to anticipate that I was the successful candidate. I played the movie in my head, watching how I would react when I was told that I was to receive the “final rose”. When the HR Rep finally connected with me he was firm, to the point and he informed me that I was more than qualified for the position and very highly thought of by the hiring manager as he prepared me for the conclusion… “They’ve decided to go in a different direction”.

Rejection is so difficult to hear and especially difficult to deal with; particularly, in a way that doesn’t turn into self-deprecation. “Of course, I’m disappointed”, I explained to the HR Rep. Because I wasn’t selected for any of the positions, I immediately began to question why (in my mind) and search for the real meaning (the hidden meaning), as to why I was not the “chosen” one.

This is where it pays to be an “Above Average”. Although I’m disappointed, I have the confidence of knowing there was literally nothing else (within my power) I could’ve done differently, to drive a different outcome. I left it all on the field and some things are simply decided for us, just as it was for Johnny G.

When you have a record of excellence, regardless of what you’re told or try and conjure up in your mind, you have the luxury of knowing that an outcome like this one was just out of your control and there may not be a “rest of the story”.

What will the Joneses think?

During the recruiting period, people whom I never even told that I applied for the postings were matchmaking me with the open positions. Random people stopping by my office, assuring me that I was sure to get the jobs and I was inclined to believe them.

What would those people think now? I began to rehearse in my mind, how I would respond to their questions. True to human form, I must admit, among my first thoughts (after being told I wasn’t selected) was, “What will my family and coworkers think?”

Then a calm came over me. I realized, I have a great story to tell. The hiring manager took his organization in another direction. That is beyond my control and it had nothing to do with any deficiency in me. I would’ve rocked any one of those jobs but it just wasn’t “in my cards” right now but the game isn’t over yet.

None of them knew that during the same time frame, while I was a candidate, in addition to my current Job performance producing our highest results.

  • I successfully coached two other people who successfully landed positions they were applying for.
  • I successfully launched not just one podcast but two (Podcasts that will provide meaningful, inspirational, engaging content that will both entertain and compel people to action; action that will not only advance their career, but possibly save lives).
  • I interviewed a two time Olympian who shared his secrets for overcoming adversity.
  • I scheduled interviews with a NASCAR racecar driver who will talk about living his dream.
  • I scheduled interviews with a popular author who will talk about his popular books about success in the job market (probably should have done this one first).

That’s the story I want to tell. Those things are Above Average.

My life is no less meaningful and my career no less fulfilling, for not having been selected. In fact, I have more clarity as to what I need to do to fulfill my personal mission which is to help people live a life above average and be successful in their own career and business.

 Action Items:

You can’t always see the end from the beginning. Sometimes there just isn’t much more you can do beside what your already doing. That is the time to just embrace the track your on and bloom where your planted.

I’m not talking about settling for less. Average people react to circumstances; Above Average people respond. It’s quite possible that you may present yourself in the best possible fashion and another candidate just offers more to the hiring manager for that position.

Let’s not forget we are human beings with emotions too, and we may need time to process the loss in order to position ourselves to move ahead in a healthy way.

Rejection can actually be a good thing in the long run. If the hiring manager didn’t think you were the best candidate for the job, it may have not been the best fit for you.

You were on a path when you decided you wanted a different opportunity. Things didn’t work out, for whatever reason, it really doesn’t matter why at this point. Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure that you don’t fall into a rut and lose your direction during this time.

Acknowledge what just happened – At first you may be confused and not be able to understand why you weren’t chosen. You may even become angry. My rule of thumb in business… You get 7 days to be pissed off and get it out of your system then its time to suck it up and move on. Both emotions are natural and it’s healthy to acknowledge them. We acknowledge these feelings, by feeling them. The key here is to do that in the right way, with the right people.

Don’t shoot the messenger – Emotional intelligence is a key indicator of whether you were really ready for that opportunity or not. The fact that you’re experiencing the emotions above doesn’t mean you’re childish or unintelligent, either. However, controlling those emotions may be the very thing that affords you a nod from the playmakers when the next opportunity arises.

Don’t fly off the handle and make an ass of yourself. There are to many times when we accidentally get labeled with that tag. Don’t make it true by lashing out at the bad news. Just listen, absorb what your being told are the reasons; shelve them for a while then remove yourself. This will give you some time to reflect on what you were told so you can respond in a meaningful way; as opposed to reacting in a damaging way.

You do this reflection with a close friend/confidant or your personal coach/mentor, if you really need to. But you don’t do this with the hiring manager.

 Note To Friend:

If you’re the friend, your job is to listen and let your friend vent without trying to fix it for them.

Be careful not to allow them to make stupid mistakes during this time; by telling them to use you as a sounding board. However, after 7 days you’re no longer being much of a friend if you let this kind of conversation go on.

When the 7 days are up its time to help your friend move past the disappointment, if they haven’t already

 Seek understanding – Waiting for a little time to pass is always wise because it gives you the space to process and reflect on what you were told. You have questions and it’s Okay to ask them but only if you can ask them in a way that helps you understand. If you are asking them to get a justification for the decision, that’s going to make people defensive and you’ll lose the opportunity for personal growth from the experience.

Examine your mission – If you have taken the time to develop your own personal mission statement, this is a good time to revisit it. Figure out if the effort in your life, both personal and professional, is in line with what you have determined is your personal mission and whether you’re getting the results you want. If you are, take comfort in that. Fulfilling your mission on this earth is more important than your job title.

If you see that there is a misalignment between your personal mission and the way your currently doing your job or you aren’t getting the results you want from your life, this setback may actually be a set up. Setting you up for more success and fulfillment in your life as you work through a plan of change for your life. Meaningful change, that supports why you’re here on this earth and change that will be both enlightening and fulfilling.

Be happy for the other guy (or gal) – Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. They just landed a great job (Yes, I know what your thinking but move past that for a minute). Call them and tell them that you’re happy for them and you want them to succeed. Offer your assistance.

If you respond in a supportive, congratulatory way to the “chosen” candidate, people will recognize that as an Above Average trait. They will respect you for it. You will respect yourself for it and wasn’t that a one of the motivating reasons I threw my hat in the ring in the first place, to increase my influence and extend my professional reach? Sure was!

This positive gesture will help move you past the disappointment quickly, normalize the experience and remind you not about what you lost but rather what you gained.

Have you ever applied to a position, interviewed and not been chosen? What emotion did you experience? What did you do to move ahead? Feel free to share your experience in the comments or leave me a VM message.