I had a few setbacks in my early career, and I will admit I didn’t always handle them particularly well. Even now, particularly in my part-time venture as a freelance writer, there are occasions when I have to grit my teeth when I receive feedback, and remind myself that not everyone likes my work, and they are entitled to their opinion, and it’s not the end of the world, and so on. But it’s hard.
However, this year, I’m changing my approach. When it looks like rejection might be on the cards, I’m going to take a deep breath and ask myself, what would Sir Tom Jones do?
Looking forward to his new role as a mentor on ‘The Voice’ as it launches on ITV this month, Sir Tom’s been reminiscing about the BBC rejecting him from the same show a couple of years ago. It’s a knock that he didn’t entirely take on the chin at the time, although he didn’t kick up a fuss. It’s good to see that he’s feeling pretty philosophical about it now, and is highlighting his experience as an important lesson for the aspiring stars on the show.
Sir Tom, how you inspire me. Your poise, composure and restraint when the BBC shafted you is a valuable lesson to us all. Of course, it’s pleasing that it has become apparent that on this occasion it really was their loss. But the greater lesson is handling oneself with dignity in the face of rejection, learning from the experience, and moving on to bigger and better things (erm, or in Sir Tom’s case, to the same thing, I suppose).
The Tom Jones principle is particularly significant in my full-time career in IT recruitment. It goes without saying that for every individual that we help to secure a job, there are inevitably two or three others that didn’t quite make it. Our process is extremely thorough, so if they’ve got to the stage of attending an interview, it means we rate them pretty highly. And many of them we’ll go on to place in future. But at the point of rejection, it’s crucial that we deliver feedback to the candidates that weren’t successful. Breaking bad news is a part of the job that few recruiters take pleasure in. Emotions run high, and the soothing Welsh lilt of Sir Tom’s reassuring voice seems a mile away.
That proverbial ‘No’ rarely means the feedback is wholly negative – but it means there was a reason why someone else got the job rather than you. If you know what that reason is, and it is something that you can change, then we want to be honest with you so that you can learn from the feedback and nail the interview next time.
None of us like to hear negative things about ourselves, and the very action of looking for a job can bring with it certain vulnerabilities and crises of confidence in the individual. Our first instinct might be to go on the attack. The interviewer didn’t know what they were doing. The questions were stupid. The company is stupid. I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway… and so on.
But you ignore feedback at your peril.
Before you know it, 12 months have gone by, you’re still attending interviews and receiving the same feedback that you did a year ago.
Instead, why not ask yourself, what would Sir Tom do? Seriously, it’s not as ridiculous as the alternative.