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by Alan J. McMillan | January 12, 2017


As baseball Hall of Famer Connie Mack said, ‘You can’t win them all.’  But that does not lessen the sting of NO.  

So what happens when you get a no? You were working with a recruiter, who ushered you into an opportunity. Perhaps they spoke so optimistically that you started to feel like this was nearly a done-deal. Then you get a rejection. Even if it wasn’t your #1 choice, you are still hurt, it stings, and you’re a bit pissed. Reject ME?

So What Is Your Next Move? 

You must always stand out and gain advantage. Toward that end you need to follow up with a response that shows gratitude and respect that will serve YOU well over the long term. Remember, that recruiter is now a part of your professional network. From your dialogue to date and yes even this rejection, you have special opportunity to build your brand. Don’t blow this, its time to stand out! 

I received your message today and I am disappointed that we will not get chance to work together. I want to say that I really appreciate the time you gave to me during the consideration process. I learned a lot from you and you are an excellent ambassador for your organization. 

Fortunately, I have other opportunities that I am working on.  The future is a big place and I hope our paths cross again.  Let me know if I can ever be of any assistance to you.  

Again, thanks. 

How many do you think react like this?  Not many, so with a follow up like this, your brand enhances.  Most people are weak on the follow-up, and coupling that with the fact that you reacted to bad news like this, again, you elevate your brand. Anyone, including that recruiter, does not like to deliver bad news. With this approach you will have a quite a positive impact on them. 

The Search Is Never Over Until It Is Over  

You can, and must always be ‘on’ during the job search process.  Everyday you do not have an offer in writing, is a day to work toward getting a better offer versus everything you have in the pipeline. Some people slow down when they are so optimistic that they will be receiving an offer. If that was you, and you got a rejection, that is a real gut punch.  

The more you have ‘in-play’ the better your energy and the better you will be perceived.  It is OK, and actually you should prioritize the roles you are working on, but ALWAYS keep prospecting for that dream job until you have an offer in writing (verbal offers feel nice but they are not binding). 

Added Fuel to Your Fire 

Some of the strongest motivational messages you will receive in your life are when someone says NO, or you CAN’T. You know why, because if they are wrong and you are right, you now become bound and determined to show them and the world for that matter just what you are made of. 

If you are really pissed at a rejection, find that company’s fiercest competitor and try to sign on. If you have done your search homework you know a bit about that industry, you deeply considered it, and now, you have something to prove. Then go beat their ever-loving brains in and make them regret the day they said no. Keep them apprised as you accomplish great things. 


  1. Be a contrarian and use a rejection to your advantage with great follow-up 
  2. Never stop prospecting for the job or internship 
  3. The game is never over until you have a written offer 
  4. And every moment is a chance to elevate your brand and reputation  

Go get’em! 

A version of this post previously appeared on



Filed Under: Career Readiness