Rejecting Rejection: Should You Take No For an Answer?


Radical feminists are probably going to hate me for saying this, but "no" doesn’t always mean "no"... at least from a career perspective.

When an employer rejects an application, proposal, or pitch, it may simply mean that they don’t understand what you are putting before them. If you are sure of yourself – and I mean really sure – then it can sometimes be acceptable to say no to rejection.

You can do this, but there are certain rules you should follow to make sure that your effort is not in vain. The idea is to convey that you believe so strongly in yourself or your idea that it would be worse not to request reconsideration than to do it.

I know that the approach outlined below works because I recently went through the experience, and not for the first time.

In my case, I had submitted a pitch for an article to a major American publisher who initially rejected the idea because they felt the international scope of what I was proposing would not fit an exclusively American audience.

I felt that was a wrong decision because I knew certain facts that the publisher did not know. That is where being certain is very important, and it definitely helps if you have evidence to back up what you are saying.

By following the basic rules given below, you will increase your chance of success, and really you have nothing to lose at this point because you have already been rejected. The worst that can happen is you get rejected again.

Be Courteous

Good manners will go a long way towards getting what you want. Show respect for the decision that was made, but also state clearly that you think the decision was wrong.

The way to do this is to indicate that you have knowledge about the situation that the employer does not have and that you want to share this new information with the employer to give them a chance to reconsider.

Show Determination and Strength

A soft-sell approach won’t work. You have to be very direct and let the employer know that you believe in yourself enough to ask for a second chance.

Remember Who is Important

Here’s a hint – it’s not you! The whole pitch has to be about what you can do for them, how they will benefit from what you are proposing.

Avoid the temptation to pour out a tale of woe saying how you really need the job because your sister needs money for a hip operation and your car is about to be repossessed.

Even if the employer has sympathy for your hard luck story, they can’t normally allow that to interfere in an important business decision. Besides, they may be worried that some of that bad luck will rub off and bring trouble to them.

Stick to a spiel that shows how what you are proposing is going to provide a direct benefit to the employer and allow them to benefit in some way. If you benefit also, that’s a wonderful thing, but it should not be your focus.

Support Your Arguments

If there is good evidence, that supports what you are proposing, use it. Push the evidence hard, especially if it is statistical or comes from a highly respected source.

Suppose, for example, that you wanted to make a documentary about how an inexpensive herbal supplement might hold the secret to curing some terrible disease, but the producer rejects the idea because "something would already have been done about it if it worked".

Now is the time to bring up that study you found on PubMed that was written by doctors and peer-reviewed before publication. Then follow it up by providing links to articles that show some huge corporation is trying to block the import of the supplement, to keep a monopoly on the treatment of the disease.

Something like that would put you in a strong position. If there is no existing evidence, go out and collect evidence in person. For example, interview people who have used the supplement successfully to treat the condition, and speak with doctors or herbalists. These are the kind of inspired tactics that win deals.

Offer a Compromise

Don’t say that supporting your pitch is the only option. What I did was to say to the employer to give my idea a try, and if it didn’t work, then I could always create something more traditional for them later.

This is a good idea because it sets you up with an opportunity to still create more work for the employer even if you fail, and it doesn’t make the employer feel like you are backing them into a corner.

Pitching an idea or applying for work is never easy. Coping with rejection is even harder, especially if you really believe in yourself and you invested a lot of effort in the application. But when you really believe, and your faith in that belief is strong enough, you can try again.

Just don’t overdo it. Never submit a frivolous request for reconsideration or do it more than once with the same employer.

Be nice, show confidence, support your arguments, and offer a compromise if necessary. You would be surprised how well it can work.

See Also: How to Strategically Handle Job Interview Rejection

Have you ever said no to rejection? What methods did you use? Your thoughts and comments below please...