“Thank you for your interest, but…” Your third interview with the company included senior members of the executive team. You thought the position was yours. The polite telephone call you just received, that began in this manner, let you know otherwise. After you graciously respond and end the call, you are, frankly, stunned.
You did not get the job—what next?
Almost everyone interviews for jobs they do not get. Finding and achieving the position you want is an often painful process. At the executive level, the air is rarified and the competition is stiff.
No one is happy about missing the mark on a job they want. But along with disappointment and dismay, it is essential to mine the experience for hidden value.
Know how to respond
Consider these thinking and action points if the position you want slips away:
Reflect on how do you feel about it? Many career coaches and counselors wisely advise clients to feel the pain. Mourn the loss and consider the fear that attends failure. While you are there, take note of the gold buried in the muck. The sharp disappointment can be an enduring catalyst to get where you are going. Do not give your feelings short shrift. Find an activity to help you release the tension and then use what you’ve learned about yourself as you move forward.
Express gratitude: As a candidate for a C-level or other executive position, you know time and effort was spent during the recruiting process for the job you did not get. Pick up the telephone and call your contact within the company to express your gratitude and cement the contact. Send a note of thanks, and include a news or other interesting item to create a level of connection outside the missed job opportunity. Reframe the experience as an opportunity to expand your network, rather than diminish it.
Obtain an assessment: At the executive level, you may be working with a recruiter or coach. If realistic feedback on why the job was not offered is unavailable, conduct an honest evaluation of your job search plan. Assessment of the end stage of the recruitment process differs from concern over resume style. Focus honestly on why you feel the job got away from you.
Focus on the opportunity before you: Rejection is hard not to take personally. Achieving a desired position is a step that leads your life in its next direction. But not getting the job does not leave you standing still. Many factors bear on the choice of candidates. If you did not get a particular position right now, accept that it is not the direction you are going at present. Use the situation as leverage to find a new, even better, direction. As you cut a different path, disappointment can work to energize your search, reveal the right job for you, and help you get the offer.
Narrow or broaden your search: If you are repeatedly advancing to the interview stage without a final job offer, take a critical look at whether you should pursue more specialized or more generalized employment venues. A repetitive pattern of interviews without employment closure could be an overlooked disconnect between your background and the right boardroom for you.
Consider the ecosystem: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for top executives between 2012 and 2022 will roughly parallel the economy, at about 11 percent. A 2015 survey by Careerbuilder reports that approximately 36 percent of U.S. employers plan increases in their full-time staff. The economy is improving, and with it, the job market. The proliferation, analysis, and protection of big data are driving executive hires and the creation of new positions. Remap your job search plan to take advantage of executive opportunities on the developing corporate edge.
Revisit your personal brand: Online marketing is more than your digital footprint. It is the cohesive message you send through platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. It is not likely that your personal brand led to your lack of a job offer after the interview phase, but it can help you land the next interview, and maybe a job. Refresh your online presence through an updated professional or community profile.
Ask for help: Research indicates many people fear asking for help outside their tried-and-true circle of friends and associates. Reluctance to seek support, advice, and ideas outside a known network enforces homogeneity and reduces the likelihood of a novel outcome. Do your research, and locate a contact that could be an interesting informational interview. Reach out to an expert in your field, and ask for ideas and suggestions. Do not limit yourself to your known universe—create a new one.
The challenge of an executive job search is to be your own change agent. Use those higher level skills to do what you do best—analyze, realize, plan and move forward toward success. Set-backs are part of the deal. Let them drive you to where you want to go.
Lisa Rangel and the Chameleon Resume team have helped hundreds of people just like you get the 6-figure position they deserve.
If you are interested in working with an elite team of former Fortune 500 recruiters and executive resume writers to win the attention of hiring managers and start landing more interviews, sign up for an exploratory call now to discuss next steps.