Sorry, You Didn’t Get the Gig… This Time
by Arnie Samlan
We will all have our share of grants we didn’t receive, essay contests we didn’t win, consulting proposals that weren’t accepted and jobs given to others instead of to us. It’s part of life. And the more that a person enjoys putting himself out there and trying new things, the more it will happen. And whether you’re a grant seeker, a blossoming writer, an entrepreneur or a job hunter, there is much to be learned from the opportunities that got away. Each experience gives us a better sense of how we can be of value and is a challenge to keep trying.
The best organizations are the ones that communicate the “rejection” message in a clear way. Sadly, many companies (for profit, nonprofit and governmental) look for shortcuts in their practices and writing a thoughtful “rejection” (or indeed, communicating to an applicant that they didn’t get the job) is one of the practices that have fallen by the wayside in many cases. Fact is, writing a good “rejection” is actually good business, and here’s why:
- Most people (or organizations) who have taken the time to write a thoughtful essay, send in an intelligent proposal or apply for a position have something positive to offer. Sending a “rejection” says to them, “Thanks for taking the time to think of our organization. While we didn’t give you the opportunity you hoped for, your application started a relationship. Think of us again when you want to buy our product or use our services. Or maybe even when another opportunity presents itself.”
- We live in a world that is smaller than most of us realize. In addition to that applicant being a potential customer, s/he may show up working for a company that your organization wants to collaborate with. They could even end up as COO of the company that buys your company out. Writing something to say “sorry we couldn’t bring you on board” leaves that person with a more positive view of your organization than simply pretending s/he never applied.
- If your organization cares about the field it is in (and not simply about its share of the market), you want the best people working in it. A well thought out letter or email can communicate how the applicant can best prepare himself for the next opportunity, or can suggest other directions s/he might want to consider for his/her future.
- Your organization’s correspondence can clarify your intention. Do you want the person to apply again? Would you like them to simply leave you alone? Are you interested in meeting with him/her, just to learn more about them? This is the chance to communicate it.
Finally, sending correspondence thanking the person for his/her time is just plain common courtesy. It says that your organization is a class act.
And after all, don’t you want your organization to be a class act?