SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
After all the interviews, showing up in uncomfortable clothing and days spent wondering how well you actually answered some of those questions, you get the news...and they decided to go with someone else! Ugh! For some jobs it’s more heartbreaking news than for others. So, what if you really thought you had it in the bag? As far as you were concerned, you were perfect for the job; your qualifications matched, you made the recruiter laugh several times and the company fits you like a glove.
You are left replaying the series of events over and over again, figuring out where you went wrong. Well, it happens to everyone and when you really want the job - it’s a shot to your pride and self esteem. It’s just plain painful! The good news is - it’s not the end of the world and there are many things you can do to make it sting just a little bit less in the future.
1. Develop Good Etiquette
Receiving news we don’t want to hear can make us feel very emotional, and it’s a very natural thing to have happen. The way in which you handle yourself during those times can really determine not only how the rejecting employer receive you, but how successful you will be in your future endeavors.
It’s not something anyone ever thinks about in the heat of the moment, but you may actually apply with the rejecting employer again at some point. It is imperative that you remember that they have access to all the emails you send them and can review those emails in the future. Many companies keep records of their applicants and if you send them too many emails demanding to know more about what happened or try to oversell yourself after the fact, they will remember that and likely not want to give you the opportunity to interview with them again.
If you get told no and you really don’t know why - it is not uncommon to send an email asking for feedback. Something like this: “ Hi Jane, I want to thank you for taking the time to interview with me; it has been a great experience getting to know you and the people at your company. I am constantly trying to improve upon my interviewing skills and would like to know what it is I can do better in the future. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!” Many times, they will respond and give you constructive criticism that you can use to your advantage. Sending thank you cards is a good habit to develop as it demonstrates maturity, good manners, increases the likelihood they will consider you in the future and really just helps you with getting closure (so to speak) from the experience, allowing you to move on. Like I said, it can be an emotional experience.
2. “It’s Not You, It’s Me”
It's easy to get hung up on the fact that you didn’t get the job that you wanted. It makes sense; as humans, we are in the habit of getting upset when we don’t get what we want. Getting lost in the fact that you lost the battle can make you lose the war, which is still very much up for grabs! You may be blaming yourself and thinking about everything you may have done wrong, which is very common but unhealthy, especially since it most likely was because of something entirely outside of your control. For some positions: the company will take outside interviews, but really plan to hire from within to increase productivity and morale within their organization.
3. Don’t over-analyze what happened
When people go in for interviews, they are usually very nervous and come out not really remembering what happened. They can only focus on the feelings that they have, since the reality hasn’t set in and the nervous are still settling. You can’t remember everything that was asked and play the questions and answers you gave over and over again in your head. You think about ways in which you could have better answered the questions and maybe some questions you could have asked when they asked. There is no good that can come of over-analyzing the situation for one main reason: you can’t do anything about it and worrying only makes things worse. Instead; Try to focus on things that are within your control.
Breathing, meditating and other relaxation methods can help you think more clearly. Don’t contaminate your thoughts with assumptions. Focusing on the facts will help keep you organized and well composed to handle the following events. It’s important to combat your fears, worries and assumptions with positive behaviors and thoughts. When you start over-analyzing, switch gears and be get rid of negative thoughts as many times as you need to to make habit of it.
4. Practice with Friends
This may seem like an easy solution, but it’s important to find the right friends to practice with. Practice answering typical interview questions with people that can coach you and not just be a set of ears. Your body language tells a recruiter a lot about how confident you are and the more practice that you have, the better it is going to be. Make sure it’s someone who will tell it like it is. This isn’t a time to have someone dance around your emotions. You need some tough love and good coaching - so be proactive in finding people that will give you meaningful and honest feedback. If you don’t have anyone that can be objective with you, use the resources that are available to you.
5. Update your Info
Take some time to spruce up your resume. The best thing you can do when you fall off a horse is to get back on, and the first step in doing that is making sure all of the information that you have is correct and current. Make sure your resumes and cover letters are optimized for the job you are applying for. Focus and highlight the things that are relevant to that industry and subtract things that are not. Make sure you go into detail about what your job descriptions are. Really look for ways you can stand out and don’t downplay any of your skills and job descriptions. This is your time to shine. Here are some excellent tips on how to ramp up your resume! Make sure you update your digital profiles and update your photos to be professional. There are lots of things you can do to brand yourself online and these are some tips on how to successfully do that.
6. Focus on Bragging Rights
After rejection, it is more likely you will be thinking about everything that is wrong with you and that could be better as opposed to everything that makes you great. That’s the biggest mistake people make and why tips 1-3 should not be overlooked! I believe in whatever is meant to be, will be, but I will make sure I can do everything in my power to help it along anyway that I can.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to remember what makes you great. Maybe that job wasn’t meant for you and your job is still waiting out there. Make a list of all the things that make you special, desirable and a great employee. Don’t just write them, believe them and make them a part of you. Recruiters can see your confidence when you interview and if you believe what you tell them about you, they will believe it too.
7. Learn from your Mistakes
Definitely be inquisitive and learn from your behaviors and actions as this can help you to understand what needs to be improved upon for the next time. You don’t want to be repeating behaviors and answers that don’t seem to be working. The important thing to remember is that everyone goes through interviews, and at some point everyone goes through rejection (usually many times), so you should be in the habit of A/B testing didn’t things to see what works and what sticks. Everyone has to test various methods to see what works, salespeople, software engineers, marketers, and scientists. Rarely do people get it right the first time around, and interviews are no different. It’s part of the experience to further develop the best version of yourself that you can.
8. Create an Action Plan
Along with making a list to focus on your strengths and best attributes, it would be a good idea to set in place a plan of action. Write down what you wish to accomplish and by what date. Set measurable goals and not vague ones, like how many resumes you want to send out and by what day. Always apply to multiple places at once. If you put all your eggs in one basket, the rejection is more crushing than if you apply to numerous places and have interviews lines up. That way, if you get bad news, it will sting, but you have another interview you can look forward to in a week or so. A plan of action will keep you moving forward. The steps can be as ambitious or as modest as you want them to be to make sure you can handle the load. It’s not as important to jump three or four steps at a time as it is to make sure you can comfortably make small steps forward. Own each step and then move on to the next. Being overly ambitious can drain you and cause burn out.
9. Self Assess
Is it really what you wanted? Maybe your enthusiasm didn’t show and the recruiters saw that? Take me time to evaluate the things that are important to you and what you want. This can help you focus your efforts on jobs that really speak to you. Don’t over analyze the situation, but if you can pin point what you can improve upon, focus on those individual things. Think about what you can do to improve and what steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Self-assessment is a great idea after any negative experience as it really helps you to learn more about yourself and how you handle yourself in future situations.
10. Skill Up
Last but not least, one of the things to consider improving upon could be your skill set. There’s lots of competition out there for the best jobs and recruiters are looking for the most qualified candidates. Let’s say, you interviewed well and what it came down to was the ability to showcase what you can do and someone else was able to impress them with a project or a challenge more than you. There are measures you can take to ensure your recruiters know exactly how skilled you are in the jobs you are applying for. ProSky training tracks are courses designed to teach you what companies are looking for are and are taught by industry professionals as opposed to teachers or professors. You can be sure you will be equipped with the tools that you need to succeed as a growth marketer, sales development representative, or a full stack engineer just to name a few. Take the time to invest in yourself, so the recruiters can see the value that you bring to them.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” - Carl Jung
The most important things to remember when you receive that bad news is to never give up. Showing resilience and strength will eventually pay off because it will translate to confidence and recruiters will see that. You will eventually get that yes, and No’s are just one step close to getting you there.
Try out ProSky's training tracks to gain more skills that recruiters are looking for in a potential candidate!