How to Convert Turndowns into Network Opportunities

There are turndowns when you know you weren’t even close and feel no real connection to the

hiring manager, and then there are turndowns when you know you were a ‘contender’.  Well Rocky didn’t give up after a defeat, and neither should you.  Reach out to any of the managers with whom you felt a           connection to convert that turndown into a network opportunity.

A student recently came very close to landing her dream job.  All the ‘buy’ signs seemed to be there – she’d been asked about salary, references were requested, and the hiring manager had made comments about the work they could do together.  Then the trail simply went COLD.

After several attempts at communication, the student finally got a call from the hiring manager, who told her she was very talented and a wonderful candidate, but the screening committee had selected someone else for the job. Things could have ended there but my advice was to try to   convert the turndown into a networking opportunity.  I suggested she book a lunch with the hiring manager to solicit feedback on her performance    during the interview process, focusing on what she could do differently or better next time to be the candidate who gets the offer.

By the end of that lunch, the manager actually volunteered to pass the student’s resume along to HR and other managers in the organization, and gave her the names of contacts in similar companies with whom to connect.  By reaching out and taking action rather than simply walking away from a ‘second place finish’, this student demonstrated great skills – perseverance, problem solving, assertiveness and confidence.

Will this always work?  No.  Many organizations have strict policies about providing feedback after an interview.  You can still add the managers you felt a connection with to your contacts in LinkedIn.  Remember that job and internship search requires you to have a ‘thick skin’, especially in today’s marketplace where so much is done on line.  Many of your applications will go into the ‘job search black hole’, and you can’t take this personally.  What should you do?  Keep applying.  Meet with your career advisor to review your resume and your job or internship search strategy and work your SHU network.                                              

The most critical tool you have in today’s marketplace is your network.  In order to land the job or internship of your dreams, come out from behind the screen and meet with professionals in your field of choice.  You MUST continue to find ways to expand your network in order to land your next job or internship and then MUST remember to nurture it as a means of managing your career.  For more information about what to do during a network meeting, go to your Navigator account and click on ‘Tips for Conducting an Information Interview’ and ‘Agenda for an Information Interview’.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 4th print edition.

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