Career Advice

How To Win A Second Chance At A Company You Want To Work For

The world is full of second chances, if only we go after them.

Olympic athletes compete in two events and have a second chance at gold or silver medals. Companies from General Motors to Yahoo get a second chance at success. And job-seekers need to overcome their trepidation and try again, when they feel an employer is a great fit for their talents and approach.

“We never know the real reasons we were turned down for a job,” said Annie Stevens,  managing partner of ClearRock, an outplacement and executive coaching firm in Boston. “It never hurts to reapply,” she says, as long as you did not make an egregious mistake your first time around, and as long as you did not clearly see that there was a problem related to you fitting into the corporate culture.

To be sure, some people stumble so badly the first time they may not want to try again. But many others were a strong runner-up who ought to go after another opening.

Here are five ways you can create a second chance for yourself at an employer you want to work for:

1. Overcome the rejection.  Let go of any bitterness, disappointment or embarrassment. This may be easier if you wait three or four or more months before reapplying, said Stevens. Make sure you have rebuilt your confidence and you’re willing to be transparent about coming back around again.

2. Be more strategic. This means more research and more and better use of the connections you made the first time around. Find out more about the opening, the dynamics of the department, and find someone to recommend you for the new job. “Leverage your network to get in,” said Stevens.

3. Show your progress.  If you did not land the job because of a hole in your qualifications, show how you’ve spent six months improving your skillet or filling that hole, Stevens said. “You have a very powerful message that way,” she said. If your progress is in an area that is important to that employer, connect the dots and indicate your continued interest in joining their team.

4. Stay in touch.  Too many rejected candidates “go away like a whipped puppy,” said Susan Healthfield, with the guide to human resources. Choose one or two managers who you liked and write a follow up letter reminding them what you could do for the department or company. “Stay in touch. Remind them how much you like them,” said Heathfield. Forward articles or other useful information they may have expressed interest in.

5. Build bridges. “Do some intentional networking,” said Sunitha Narayanan, a career coach with OI Partners and at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. Craft a congratulations letter to the person who landed the job you sought. Suggest you’d be willing to help by taking on a project or two as a consultant, she suggests. Or after they’ve been on the job for a couple of months, “build a relationship for the future” and ask them to recommend other areas of the organization that might be a great fit.

It’s definitely not as easy as ordering a second margarita at a bar or a second scoop of Italian ice at the neighborhood shop. So if you really want a second chance, work it. Pave your path with confidence and connections and clearly communicate your value.