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Valuable Lessons

January 28, 2013
by Tim Tolan
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Didn’t get the job offer? Shake off your disappointment and use lessons learned for the next opportunity
Tim Tolan

The last thing a candidate wants to hear after a long, arduous search process is that the client has decided to focus on another candidate, and they are no longer under consideration. The search is over.

If you only see the glass as half-empty after receiving this sort of news—it can be both depressing and difficult to understand, especially if you are the one on the other end of that verbal exchange—it’s understandable. It’s disappointing to go through an entire search process, meeting and engaging with multiple people, not to mention the amount of time and effort that goes into a job search, and then get the bad news in the home stretch. I get that.
I also believe there is an upside to be found (if you look for it) when you are not selected as the candidate who gets the offer. Here are a few positive messages and takeaways you should think about should this ever happen to you.

Forging Relationships: In this space, relationships mean everything. This includes not only new connections, like the search partner you worked with, but also existing ones, and the search process can give you the opportunity to re-engage with your references during the background check process. Sometimes just reaching out to catch up lets your trusted network know that you are open to hearing about new opportunities. That’s a good thing.

Telling Your Story: Part of interviewing is the chance for you to tell a story about why you are the best candidate in the market. Let’s face it—you don’t get the chance to do that every day, and having an audience to listen to your story allows you to focus your thinking on what you bring to the table. Being in front of multiple people during the interview process helps to make you a better candidate by giving you multiple chances to tell your story, define your message and better articulate your value equation. Another good thing.

Gaining Career Clarity: If you took the initial interview call, there must be a reason behind that decision. Sometimes we don’t really know why we want to look at greener pastures, but if you engage in a search process you should ask yourself why. If you’ve put a ton of energy into creating an exit for yourself by becoming available to interview for a new role, then there must be a bigger message for you to ponder. Are you really happy where you are, or are you simply going through the motions? Are you casting a line to see what else is out there? It’s a fair question.   

Making the Short List: Being on the short list is a very big deal. Let’s face it: there are hundreds and hundreds of CIO candidates that a search firm can source from. If you were selected to interview for a new role, that in itself should confirm your value to the overall talent market. Sometimes just having an opportunity to meet new healthcare leaders can add meaningful value to you later on. I have seen real world examples of how great candidates turned lemon into lemonade even though they were not the candidate of choice.

Yes, there is life after you learn that you were not selected for a new role. If you look hard enough you will find hidden treasures and little nuggets that can really make a difference the next time your phone rings. Shake it off, and stay in the game until you have another chance to step up and swing the bat.

And make sure you don’t miss the lessons! ◆

Tim Tolan is senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT practice. He can be reached at or (843) 579-3077 ext. 301. His blog can be found at