Should You Always Accept 'No' In Your Job Search?


A question from N about her job search.

Should you always accept ‘no’ in your job search? I’m a laid-off job-seeker at the senior/VP level and was turned down for a position a month ago that I really wanted — and was completely qualified for. This wasn’t the first time; being pretty well-connected and with a great CV, I’ve had lots of interviews but unfortunately not been hired for several jobs for various understandable reasons (either extreme competition or no longer hiring for the position).

However, this particular job hasn’t been filled, and I feel it’s the perfect fit. After two interviews with two HR reps, I was told that while they were impressed and that I presented myself extremely well, the hiring manager wanted someone with the one piece of very specific experience that I lacked.

So the question is…since I do know who the hiring manager is (via a friend), is it worth bypassing the HR person and sending the boss an email stating my case, citing some solutions for problems the company is facing related to this position, and asking for a second consideration? The job is still posted. It just seems like the HR people don’t really know the ins and outs of what it takes to succeed in that role — and while it’s their job to weed out inappropriate candidates, I feel like I was eliminated prematurely. In other words, the boss would likely see qualities that would overshadow my minor experience deficiencies on paper.

Should I a) do nothing and accept defeat; b) email the boss; or c) email the HR manager and CC the boss (or vice versa)?

Thanks for writing, N. I have to give you some tough news: you probably won’t get this job. For whatever reason, HR was empowered to make the call and they didn’t pick you. It sucks. It hurts. It feels wrong. I wouldn’t assume HR missed the boat, though. Maybe HR is stupid, but there might be internal politics or other issues that are causing them to bypass your candidacy.

Pushing your case can go badly if done improperly. You might seem needy, and needy people don’t get hired.

I’m not advising you to accept no, but I am asking you to think about this situation differently.

  • I would suggest that you ask your friend (who knows the hiring manager) to hand-deliver your CV to the hiring manager.
  • Include a very specific cover letter that includes a simple and concise case for hiring you. The cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page.
  • Once you’ve written the cover letter and sent your CV to your friend, be done with it.

I am a big believer in putting my time and energy into worthwhile causes. Control the things you can control in life and walk away from situations that leave you in a position of weakness. Look forwards, not backwards. I know firsthand that it’s not easy to walk away from this company without fighting for this role; however, what does it say that the company didn’t recognize your brilliance in the first place? Will you have to fight for everything you do? Will you have to navigate inter-departmental politics and bullshit?

Accept the company’s decision without labeling it as defeat. It’s not defeat. It is a job offer that didn’t materialize — not a statement of your worth as a human being.

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