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Not “No,” Just “Not Yet”

Job Search Persistence Can Pay Off

By Bonnie Johnson,


If you’ve ever worked in sales, customer service or marketing, or want to, you’ve probably heard this advice. Don’t take “no” as rejection, it’s just “not yet.” I sometimes wince at this idea because I don’t want to appear pushy, but I’ve experienced plenty of circumstances where this is applicable. This is not only valid for marketing and sales; it’s a vital aspect of the job search and career development process for every candidate, no matter your preferred career type or industry.

Many candidates are recognizing the value of “not yet” in the hiring process. Nearly half of agricultural candidates report they have ongoing engagement and communication with an employer even if they aren’t offered the job. Some of us may think it’s just easier to walk away after rejection, feeling defeated, never to interact with the company again.

Rejection’s positive side: Even though you didn’t make the cut for a current opening, there is a chance you will be a fit for a different opening with the employer, or even the same position in the future after you have more experience and build your skill set. This happened to me; I applied for a job when I was just out of college and received a no thank you rejection letter before I even had an interview. Fast forward a few years later and the same position is open again. After I’d built my professional experience, not only did I get the interview, but I got the job.

You may not even have to wait years for your persistence to pay off! A colleague said one of their most memorable candidates was a rejected one. This candidate wasn’t selected for the position, but due to their follow-up note after the rejection, made a lasting impression. After receiving notice that they didn’t get the current job, the candidate sent a note expressing their appreciation for the time to interview and articulating their continued interest in working for the employer. This made a lasting impression that moved this candidate to top-of-mind when filling future positions.

It’s easy to stay in touch with email and communicate via social media, such as connecting on LinkedIn, or following on Twitter. Persistence is good but remember moderation as well. If you get repeated no’s, perhaps it’s NOT a “not yet,” but a “never,” and time to move on! Keep in mind that it’s not only if you’re a good match for an employer, but they may not be a decent fit for you either.

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