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September 30, 2011
Rejected: How to Turn a 'Turn-Down' Into a Positive
Throughout our careers, we have a whole lot more interviews than we do actual job offers…it’s just a fact of life.

But when you do get that rejection note from the employer after interviewing with them, instead of hitting the “delete” button to trash the email in sudden fit of anger, stop.

Take a moment, and breathe. Rejection, no matter how politely delivered, is still rejection, and it still hurts. But you can actually turn what you might perceive of a negative situation into a positive.

Today, job seekers’ biggest concern should be reputation management, and how you tactfully maneuver around a rejection note can make a difference somewhere in the future.

A great way to convey respect for the person who interviewed you and also still indicate interest in the company is to compose a note back to the sender.

What you REALLY want to achieve here is a positive reinforcement that while you weren’t the top candidate for THIS position, you are still a viable one for FUTURE jobs. 

So after you have cooled down and accepted the rejection, then sit down and calmly compose a reply to the sender. Something along the lines of:

"Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to personally let me know that you've opted to move forward with other candidates. While I am very disappointed not to be selected, I understand that there is only one opening and many more candidates in competition. This must not have been an easy decision, but I appreciate your letting me know of the outcome.

Based on what I've read online and observed in our interview, I remain excited about the great work that your company is doing and am still very interested in (company name). With my background in (area that the company is hiring for) and continued thirst for adding industry knowledge in (your particular industry sector), I am confident that the right opportunity will come along where my career assets will be the right fit with your organization.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could please keep me in mind for future employment opportunities, and again, I really do appreciate the time we shared so I can learn more about your work. Thank you.”

This note is easy to write, sounds very mature, conveys respect for the person you met with, and ends on a positive note. You can almost hear the human resource or hiring manager breathing a sigh of relief.

Take a rejection note as an opportunity to bolster your personal brand and reputation; it could pay off big time in the future when the company has another job opening for which you intend to reply. 


Because the management will most likely remember you, especially for being able to deal so gracefully with adversity.

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Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.
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