On the Job
Another Approach to Job Rejection
Friday, August 1, 2008; 4:01 PM
Who hasn't been turned down for job they really wanted? It happens, and not always because you were simply unqualified. There are myriad reasons why employers might reject an applicant.
But if the firm hasn't filled the slot, is it worth your effort to make another run at the job, to try to get the employer to change its mind and hire you?
In response to a recent interview, I was told that although my work experience was outstanding, the employer would continue looking for someone else. Typically I would take this and move on. However, I really want this position. Is there anything I can do to try and engage this company once more? How about asking for pointers in what I could improve on to make me a better candidate or offer to work as a contractor to prove myself? Or is this something where I should just let it go?
Pegine Echevarria, owner of Team Pegine Inc., a human resources and leadership consulting firm in Jacksonville, says flatly, "If you really want it badly enough, you don't give up." But she advises against offering one's services as a contractor on the premise that if the company wanted to hire a contractor it would have advertised that job.
But a renewed effort calls, she says, for some strategic moves to capture the firm's interest in ways that the applicant did not in his initial job bid there.
"Who do they know that works at the firm?" she asks. "There's always connections -- work, social, religious. Too often this person is only focusing on one way in to the company."
She also suggests making connections through such Internet social sites as LinkedIn and Plaxo. "Tell everyone, 'I really want to work for this company.' Use the technology of networking."
Then, she says, the applicant should think back to his interview and recall if there was some particular problem the company was trying to solve and write a white paper on how you would deal with it. "Get someone to edit it, hire a graphic artist to dress it up," Echevarria says. "Make it look pretty. When you do a white paper, it's really highlighting your expertise."
Lastly, she says if the firm seems unwilling to reconsider its rejection of him, it does not hurt for him to ask what shortcomings the firm may have seen in him. Many companies may decline to answer for fear of being sued, but she says it's always possible an interviewer may mention something that would give the applicant a leg up for his next job interview.
"These are three things -- the networking, the white paper and the feedback -- that 99 percent of applicants will never do," she says.
And if all else fails from making the extra effort to get this job, Echevarria says it is possible that the applicant might be able to get hired at the company a few years from now by staying in contact with relevant officials and updating them on his career.
Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com.
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