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Rejection: Seek Out the Positive

It's not that rejection is a wonderful thing. But sometimes it does bring out the bold and courageous in you. And even gets you the job after all.

Just look at what it did for Kelsey, a young and aspiring actress.

She thought it was curtains for her when she did not get a part - any part - in her high school spring musical. Now this is someone who is devoted to her craft. She had the lead role in the last musical. She goes to theater club, takes private voice lessons and on weekends takes acting and voice classes at the local university.

But when she didn't see her name on the list of lucky cast members for "The Wedding Singer," she was devastated. She felt the director who picked the cast was trying to crush her dream. She worried she'd be "blackballed" for the next four years. She suggested to her mother that the family pack up and move to another school district.

Then she "came to a more rational place," says her mother. She reached out to her theater director and ask, "Why?" What was it about her audition that didn't cut it?

She also told him how disappointed she was. How hard she'd worked to get this far. Please explain, she said, so she could improve and make the next show.

Turns out she learned, that she did well in her individual audition, but not so well in the group audition. The director thanked her for her passion and shared how important it is to understand all elements of theatre, asking if she'd be open to serving on the crew. She set her wounded ego aside and signed up.

A few days later a cast member resigned. Guess who got a call from the director offering her the part?

No doubt, you have gotten a thanks-but-no-thanks call or letter for a job you really wanted. Most people never know why. When I asked job hunters if they ask for feedback, they say, "No," or that the interviewer wouldn't tell them.

It's not always easy to get (or hear) this type of feedback, but it's crucial that you try. It can be a mighty struggle for an employer to come clean. It's a shame really. There's so much you can do with this data.

When one of my clients learned that his tendency to look down when answering questions made interviewers think he was disinterested or uncomfortable - even lying - he was shocked. He got right to work on eye contact. When another found out that the critical manner in which she talked about a former boss is what nixed her from the running, she changed her tune. Sure enough, she began getting a warm response from employers.

They and others also became more resilient, which according to Jane Goodman, former president of American Counseling Association is someone who doesn't avoid life's hard knocks, but bounces back, survives and flourishes. She sites the image of a large blow-up figure weighted at the bottom, which "pops back up when you knock it over."

To get an employer to share the cold truth, you might have to be more persuasive. If hesitant, remember the Kelsey Approach:

1. Lick your wounds but don't shrivel up and die.

2. Get back in touch with your convictions.

3. Boldly ask for feedback, explaining you want to improve.

4. Create a new opportunity for yourself, which will lead to another.

Before you know it, you too will have made a comeback.


Andrea Kay is the author of "Work's a Bitch and Then You Make It Work: 6 Steps to Go From Pissed Off to Powerful." Send questions to her at 2692 Madison Rd., (POUND) 133, Cincinnati, OH 45208; www.andreakay.com or www.lifesabitchchangecareers.com. She can be e-mailed at: andrea(AT)andreakay.com.

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