Prior to moving to the Northeast from Colorado, I was blessed enough to have multiple job offers presented to me. It feels good to be wanted, to know that a company values you so much that they are willing to pay you to work for them. You know what feels bad? Rejection. Obviously, just like in sales, there is a lot of rejection when searching for a job opportunity. That is a given.
There were two opportunities in particular that I felt I had a good chance of securing a job offer. The situations instead concluded in something like… “we decided to go in a different direction.” Those words are not too fun.
In both scenarios I learned a lot about what I lacked and did poorly. Have I had success in selling? Yes. Last year I oversaw a department that achieved records in revenues and other financial metrics. But prior to that I definitely went through some growing pains, and I always try to remember those hurdles and mistakes. A good performing year is great, but beware of the potential it has to create complacency.
Back to the job rejections. The first of these two opportunities had went well. I had multiple phone and virtual face to face interviews. At the start everything seemed to be going smoothly. But I believe that I got too comfortable, and began to put less effort into preparing for successive interviews. Maybe it was because I was confident they liked me enough? Maybe laziness played a part? After getting the rejection email, I quickly called one of the main managers and asked him why. He cited my lack of research about the company, the company officers, and failure to tell them about the specific value I planned to bring. He made it clear that he expected my responses to expand in both detail and thought as interviews continued, but they had felt I had repeated much of what I stated in the beginning stages. Conclusion: I coasted, and did not prepare and research as I should have to show them that their company was somewhere that I wanted to be.
Scenario two. Again, the beginning stages went well. From submitting an application, to an initial call with a recruiter, to the first phone interview with the hiring manager, all seemed to go well. Last but not least was a face to face interaction with the sales manager and then a phone call with a VP. I felt I did decent, answered many questions well, but stumbled a bit in the face to face meeting. However, the phone call went very well I thought. And maybe it did. But after getting the NO from the hiring manager shortly thereafter, again I promptly asked… why? Her answer was more specific. She acknowledged that I knew my numbers, that she liked me, and thought that I had a lot of potential. That sounded good. But she told me specifically that she felt I did not close her on why I was the best candidate and why they should pick me. I asked about next steps sure, but I needed to be more forthcoming in selling her that if they did not pick me, they were missing out. According to her, the person who received the job had more experience. Fine. But that does not change the possibility that had I closed her, maybe an offer would have been presented to me instead. We cannot know for sure, but what we do know is that my closing needed improvement.
Being in sales, I’ve learned that you cannot take rejection personally, you’ll never last if you do. It does not mean that you have to like it though. Getting passed over for these jobs was humbling, namely because there were specific skills that were not executed well by me. I have no one to blame but myself. Are you going to get every deal? Of course not. Do external factors out of our control play a part? Sometimes. But what we can do in sales, job searches, business, and life in general is take ownership for our shortcomings, learn from missed opportunities, and get better! I took both of these rejections to heart, and am aware of the need in my life to develop these skills that I failed to execute. Don’t be afraid to fail. And when you do (because you will), learn from it, create a game plan to improve, and apply your newly honed skills to your life in the future.