Being told no is feedback you can use

Once again Question of the Day has provided a great perspective that you can use in life and more specifically, your job search.  Unfortunately, we usually take criticism personally.  There are many reasons that we take it personally:

We are too close to the event – After a public speaking engagement I like to get feedback from people on what I did well and what I can do better.  But I ask them to send me their feedback via email or tell me the next day.  Right after I talk I am still too close to the event to even be reasonably objective.

We are too close to the subject – Being in HR I write a good bit of what becomes “policy” that others need to be able to understand.  That means that there are usually 5 – 10 revisions with a lot of red ink on them.  I quickly learned that what I write is not me.  These people are not saying I am bad.  Although my writing has been aAnd I am sure it will be again 🙂

We think the person is criticizing us – OK, they may also think that they are criticizing us but they are also wrong.  You are NOT a sum of your actions / decisions… you just think you are.  You need to separate yourself from your work.  While your work does reflect on you it is not who you are.  Even if you still think it is, don’t you want to get better?  That takes the courage to be vulnerable and to accept criticism.

Rejection is a form of feedback

Stephen Dubner says that he looks at rejection as a form of feedback.  If you can make this leap to making rejection impersonal, you can learn from rejection and use it to your advantage.  If not, you shut down and it takes much longer to learn from your mistakes.

Rejections can be a positive thing.  Every time you are told no in your job search you then know something didn’t work.

You are the problem

I don’t mean this in a negative way but as my mother always says, “If I (you) are not part of the problem, then you cannot fix it.”  True, sometimes companies have a hiring process that is truly broken.  I even know some companies that are aware of this but sometimes it takes a long time to make changes.

Let’s look at an analogy… If you are like me, you know the rule for turning valves on / off; lefty loosy, righty tighty.  At my kid’s school some plumber either has a wicked sense of humor or they think it is opposite day.  The knobs on some of the sinks are backwards.  So, I could either focus my time and energy on trying to get them fixed or I can just change my behavior and get on with things.  Yes, there is an argument for taking the time to fix it, but let’s fix it after you reach your goal.

Ask for Feedback

When you get turned down for a position ALWAYS ask (politely) for feedback.  Most people will not give you feedback but some will.  Here are a few ways to ask for feedback in a positive way:

Thank you for letting me know you are no longer considering me for the XYZ position.  Are their any other positions at ABC company that you feel I may be a better match for?
Thank you for following up with me about my application.  I am really excited about starting a career in XYZ (marketing) but I realize that it takes experience.  What positions would you suggest I apply for that could lead to a position like the one I applied for?
I appreciate you updating me on my status as a candidate.  Any feedback from the interview process would be much appreciated.

Many people will not reply or will reply with something that says they do not give interview feedback.  If they don’t give feedback don’t get angry, there is usually a good reason.  In my experience I do not give feedback because I have had people get in arguments with me.  Remember, they are not saying YOU are a bad match, they are saying your KSAs, goals, or personality don’t fit.  Those you CAN change, if you want to.  When following up there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Be Polite: No one likes a jerk.  Plus you never know when you will need to cross that bridge again or where that recruiter or hiring manager will work next.  Yes, we remember these things and those people.
  • Be Patient: Like most people, recruiters and hiring managers have more hours of work to do than a day will allow.
  • Be Persistent: Don’t just call / email once, but also don’t be a stalker.
  • Be Thankful: Always thank anyone for feedback and even when they tell you no.  At least you know where you stand with them.

Now get out there and get some feedback!

An inability to tolerate feedback is an inability to allow yourself personal growth.
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