During your job search and throughout the entire course of your professional career, you’ll encounter plenty of opportunities to hear the word “no.” There’s only one foolproof way to protect yourself from rejection: don’t do anything. You’ll be safe from “no” if you never pursue your passions, never extend yourself, and never take a single risk.
But since most of us don’t plan to spend our lives hiding under our beds, we have to learn how to bounce back after a no and move on. And the sooner we master this art, the better. Here are four common forms of the word no with a recommended response for each one.
No #1: Silence after a resume submission
If you submit a resume for an open position and hear nothing from the employers for days that turn into weeks, don’t take this personally. There’s a strong chance that you weren’t actively rejected; you were just competing with a very large applicant pool. Some employers don’t have the wherewithal to personally acknowledge dozens of resume submissions for a single open position. They should…but they don’t.
If you receive no response to your resume within three days, contact the employers and politely follow up. But whatever you do, don’t wait by the phone (or the computer). As soon as you submit one application, start working on the next. Keep applying and searching for positions without missing a beat.
No #2: Post-interview rejection
This “no” is a little harder to take the passive rejection described above. Once you’ve gone through the trouble of setting aside time in your busy day and traveling to meet with potential employers in person, a no can feel like a direct rejection of everything you have to offer.
But again, this probably isn’t personal. These employers were impressed with you—otherwise they wouldn’t have called you in. But another candidate in the pool had a little bit more to offer. So shake it off and use your experience with this interview to shine even brighter in the next one.
No #3: Denial of a contract extension
There’s no way to know all the factors that influence a decision not to extend a short-term contract into a full-time gig. So don’t drive yourself crazy searching for an answer that isn’t forthcoming. Sometimes the company’s financial circumstances change without warning, sometimes their long-term plans are cancelled or shifted, and sometimes the scope and direction of a project aren’t clearly understood by all the parties involved.
Just don’t be caught off guard: as you see the end of your contract approaching, get busy. Start looking for other work and don’t expect this position to become your golden ticket.
No #4: Denial of a salary increase
If you conduct research and request a salary increase that’s well within standard market rates for someone with your experience and talents, your employers should comply. If they don’t, start looking for work elsewhere. The only true judge of your monetary value is you—not your employers. If they can’t pay the rate that you’ve established as reasonable and fair, find someone who can.
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