Professionalism Tip: Be Gracious in the Face of Rejection

It is often said that our true character shows most in times of adversity.  Unfortunately, many job seekers these days have all too many opportunities to show their character—rejections are plentiful for those who are diligently applying for jobs.  Still, as difficult as it can be, use even rejections as an way to show what a true professional you are—or to solidify a budding connection to another attorney.  I recently had a student come into my office to tell me that they had gotten a job offer—from an employer who had rejected them only a few weeks earlier.  This student, when first rejected, had written the employer a graciously worded, sincere email response thanking them for the interview and expressing interest in any future opportunities.  In fact, the employer’s needs did change, and such an opportunity arose more quickly than had been expected.  

Having just gone through a hiring process myself, I can honestly say that employers often agonize over hiring decisions, and truly hate to have to reject any of the top candidates.  Those candidates who are able to remain professional become very memorable, in a positive way. 

When faced with rejection:

  • Respond as a professional.
  • Thank the employer for the opportunity to meet them.
  • Let them know what impressed you about the employer and that you remain interested in future opportunities.
  • Open the door for future contact—let them know you may see them at an upcoming professional function, ask them to go to coffee or lunch (if it seems appropriate), and seek their guidance on an issue on which they are an expert.