“It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” (-Steve Jobs)
My name is Ashley and I’m addicted to being a people pleaser. I also hate being rejected, so is it any surprise that I strongly dislike the word ‘no’?
When you have a dream and then get told no, it won’t work for whatever reason, it can really sting. Even after a lifetime of rejection, it still sucks. Because I hate being told no, I also avoid saying it to other people. This can lead to me being walked all over, like a human doormat. Definitely not fun, but I’m the only one to blame when it happens.
Even though hearing the word ‘no’ can feel defeating, I’ve come to realize it can actually be empowering.
I’m currently looking for my next career opportunity, which has been a lil stressful to say the least, mostly because I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the last 18 months applying to and interviewing for jobs. I only had a brief respite about a year ago, when I had just started as a copywriter after 4 months of unemployment, and I was really looking forward to spending the next year growing into that role (and we all know what happened just a few months later) instead of looking for a new one.
Working part-time has been a blessing in some ways, allowing me more time to pursue other interests (like running, and this blog) but ya girl wants to support herself again and feel like I’m doing something productive, so I’m searching for a full-time role that will hopefully last longer than my last job.
Since I’m fortunate enough to still be bringing in a paycheck (no matter how small), I’ve been able to be more relaxed about the job search but I’m impatient and want to be done looking and just be working my next job already. I’ve also been lucky enough to be contacted by a few recruiters, which has taken some of the stress off me. But here’s where that ‘no’ comes in.
You see, I’ve never said ‘no’ to a job offer that’s come my way. Granted, I’ve only had a handful of offers extended to me, but still. After being on the other side of the ‘no’ (being rejected for many jobs), I was hesitant to say ‘no’ to a prospective employer. Maybe I’d be somewhere totally different in my career now if I had, but what’s done is done.
Just recently, I had a phone interview that was facilitated by one of the recruiters I’ve been working with. For more context, the job was with the company I was laid off from 6 months ago (they got rid of the digital marketing side of the business to focus on what they currently do, hence the downsizing), in a role that was not at all what I have experience in, but the recruiter seemed to think it would be a good opportunity, and I’m usually game to do a phone interview just to test the waters, so I thought nothing of it. I had a good conversation with the hiring managers but assumed they would go with someone else (because of my lack of experience in said role).
Well, apparently they were impressed by me for some reason because the recruiter called me back almost immediately and said they wanted to move forward. Which I took to assume the next stage of interviewing, so I was like ok sure. Come to find out they actually want to HIRE ME because the recruiter passed along a background check and drug test to complete. At this point I’m like, yeah I don’t think I want this job. I mean, it would be interesting to get the different experience, but from my understanding, this wasn’t necessarily a permanent role (it was temp-to-hire, which I guess is ok but I’m looking for something that’s definitely more solid) and even though the pay (I hadn’t officially gotten an offer, I was just going on what the recruiter told me) was a lot more than I’ve been paid before, I would be working in DT Phoenix again and I’m not a fan of that long commute (my current commute is already hella long). I wouldn’t want to get an apartment closer to work in case the job didn’t work out and I was left searching again, plus the last layoff left a bad taste in my mouth about the company.
Doesn’t sound like a promising job, right? But here’s the kicker: I spent a couple days ruminating over what I would do…because I didn’t want to piss off the recruiter this far into the hiring process. I didn’t want to reject a job because I thought it would make people feel bad.
Ummmm…WTF?! Thankfully, I wised up, took a deep breath and crafted a nicely worded email to the recruiter thanking her for her time but saying I’m not interested anymore. And it was so fucking hard for me to do that, but it made me realize that there’s power in saying no. I’m taking control of my life and my career by saying no. Hopefully, it won’t sour my relationship with the recruiter (because I have been getting valuable job leads from her…this one just wasn’t right for me) but if it does…so fucking what? I’m capable of finding a job on my own (I’ve done it with all my jobs so far) and if I don’t find a new job soon, at least I have my current one until the timing’s right and I find a position that’s the right fit for me, instead of jumping at the first offer that lands in my lap.
And I’ll be honest here, after a phone call with the recruiter after she got my email, I kinda feel like maybe I burned my bridges with her and the company. She seemed pissed that I was reneging, but to be fair, they hadn’t even given me an actual offer yet (not even a verbal one) and they just assumed I had given notice at my current job and could start there on May 27th. Um, no. I’m not going to give notice at my job when I don’t have an offer in hand with the full details of my job. You didn’t even ask me when I would be available to start, if I have any vacation plans lined up they need to know about (which I do), etc. Like, sorry that you have to find someone else to fill the spot now, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ghosted by an employer when I spent hours preparing for interviews, doing sample assignments for them and communicating back and forth for weeks only for them to go silent and never tell me they hired someone else. I think what I just did pales in comparison to that, but if it screwed over my chances with them in the future, whatever. Like I said, I’ve had better luck finding jobs without a recruiter’s help and I just made the right decision for me and them by not taking a job I wouldn’t have liked, just so I wouldn’t make them mad in the moment.
So now I’m back to the search, but it’s ok because I have a couple things in the works there and I’m honestly trying my best not to freak TF out over it (which could be a whole other post really) and just see where things end up.
It was scary to say no, but I think it’ll be worth it.
Do you have trouble saying no? How do you deal with hiring process BS?