Unfortunately you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion.

It’s the phone call no job seeker likes to get and it’s a phone call no recruiter or hiring manager enjoys making. But it is a phone call that must be made. Credit to those recruiters and hiring managers that do the right thing and make these calls because there is many that don’t (however that’s a blog post for another day!).

As a job seeker there are so many emotions that come with receiving that unsuccessful phone call. Frustration, disappointment, regret, anger, failure, rejection. I know because I too have been on the receiving end of one of those phone calls at various times during my career. Regardless of the emotions you are experiencing as you are delivered the bad news; it’s crucial for your future chances of landing a job that you maintain your composure and handle the rejection phone call with grace.

Having made thousands of these unsuccessful phone calls over my recruitment career, they don’t get any easier and I’ve certainly experienced many different responses. If you’ve had to make a few of these calls yourself you’ll probably have experienced an irate job seeker at some stage. The most common unhappy responses have been:

  • Swearing
  • Ranting and raving
  • Being told they didn’t want the job anyway….could have fooled me based on your response!
  • Being told I don’t know what I’ve missed out on and that my clients business will now fall apart or won’t be successful without them
  • That the recruitment process was poor and didn’t allow them to demonstrate their skills and abilities
  • Sheer surprise and shock; seriously how could we have been so stupid to overlook them?

Then there are the individuals that do handle the situation gracefully. They no doubt still feel the same emotions but handle the situation appropriately. They thank you for the phone call – for not leaving them hanging, they ask for feedback and genuinely appreciate it, they thank you for your time and ask to be kept informed about other opportunities, they indicate if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out to please keep them in mind.

Flying off the handle, playing the blame game and generally losing your cool simply shows us your true colours. And they are true colours that aren’t going to do you any favours in the future in helping you get a job.

I’ve seen firsthand situations where handling the unsuccessful phone call poorly has later cost that job seeker an opportunity. Sometimes you just never know what might happen with the candidate they did appoint. Maybe they change their mind and decline the offer, maybe they get sick and don’t end up starting in the job or maybe they do start and for whatever reason it’s just not the right opportunity for them. Do you really think the recruiter or hiring manager is going to come back to you and discuss the opportunity if you’ve flown off the handle at them or told them you didn’t want the job anyway? Probably not.

The other thing that always crosses my mind in this situation is about a pattern of behaviour. What would happen if we did select you for the job? Once you were in the job and you put forward an idea or a business case, if it was rejected would you spit the dummy and rant and rave at your manager? If you didn’t get what you wanted would you start swearing at your manager and tell them they are missing out on a big opportunity?

The reality is that we all miss out on jobs that we think we would be perfect for. We all have our ideas or business cases rejected at some stage in our careers. We don’t always get our way; that’s life. What is important to career success is how you handle not getting your own way; how you handle rejection. It’s one thing to answer the interview question about how you handle rejection correctly but you then need to walk the talk when you are dealt that unsuccessful blow.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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