When “no” is the right answer

This blogpost is part of HireArt’s applicant series. We’ve asked a few of our candidates to talk about their experience and what they learned in their job search. If you’d like to contribute to our blog, please contact julia@hireart.com. If you’d like to browse jobs, visit our jobs page.

In the heat of a job search, ‘no’ never seems like the right answer. It often doesn’t even seem like a fair answer. However, the thing that I think is most easily and quickly forgotten in a job search and interview process is simply this: it’s all about finding the right match.

Carefully phrased rejection emails come through your inbox and are quickly deleted, each taking a tiny bit of the will to keep applying right into the trash bin with it. Job seekers are often discouraged by the fact that the vast majority of interviews, informational chats, coffees, and emails can ultimately result in limited concrete results. It’s easy to forget that this process is really about developing relationships and taking time to be thoughtful about the type of role or experience that would be a good fit for you.

Now, I am not going to launch into a Buzzfeed article about the seven ways that interviewing is like dating, but the point of those articles is a valid one. Interviewing is about presenting the best version of yourself without forgetting to present the real version of yourself. Though it may seem during the job search that the sole objective is snagging an offer letter, interviewing is really about figuring out if you will enjoy and excel at the job in question. Just as employers are evaluating you for how you might fit, you should also consider the interview as a true chance to evaluate the company and the role. Though we all know in theory that we should be doing that, much of the time we forget to act upon it as we are too focused on getting the offer

That’s not to say, of course, that you can’t interview for something that you know is a reach, that might push you outside your comfort zone, or that falls in an area that you don’t know much about but have a great desire to explore. In fact, you should certainly interview for such things. Still, when a company says ‘no’ to you, remember that they have far more knowledge about that job than you do. Though the phrase “it doesn’t seem as if you are a fit at this time” can sound cliché, overused, and empty, in many cases it might be true. And let’s be honest: What’s one thing definitely worse than getting a rejection email? Being stuck in a job you don’t like.

I have the distinct joy of being in a job that I love, but in order to get there, I kissed a lot of frogs. Some of those frogs were even places that I really truly thought were going to be my prince. After rounds and rounds of interviews I still got many of those same canned and clichéd responses, and in a few instances I just didn’t understand what happened. I thought I had presented myself well, I thought I was qualified and well-equipped, and to tell you the truth, I was heartbroken.

Only now that I am in this new position do I understand that those people sending me ‘no’ responses knew something I didn’t. To add another cliché, the search is and should be just as meaningful and self-reflective as the job itself. After all, you couldn’t have found your prince without it. Though it may be hard to hear, sometimes ‘no’ is exactly the right answer, and it’s just the world telling you to keep looking for the ‘yes.’

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