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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Passed Over

Dear Sue: A few months ago I went on an interview for a sales position. I received a rejection letter that stated they decided to pursue other candidates, even though my background and previous experience were impressive. I am still looking for a job and continue to see the same ad in the paper. I decided to call and request a second interview, but never heard back from anyone.

Finally, I requested an explanation; I wanted to know what the company was looking for that I seem to be lacking. I never heard back from anyone.

I still am very interested in this position, but am not sure if I should continue to pursue it or leave it alone. At what point do I just give up? 

- Interested

Sue Says: I hope you never give up; think of it as moving on. I understand your desire for an answer as to why you didn't get the position as well as your persistence -- after all good salespeople need to be persistent. However, there is a difference between being persistent and being a pest. For whatever reason, the company has made the decision not to hire you. You may have been one of many who interviewed for the job and it may not be possible for the company to provide you with the details you are looking for.

I understand your frustration seeing the ad continue to run, but it may be the type of company that is always looking for people and runs ads continually, or there could be other reasons it continues to run.

At some point you need to move on and focus on other positions. Because you have not had any response to your calls or letters, if I were you, I would focus my energy someplace else. You may want to check in with this company in another few months, or let them know that you remain interested, but do not want to be a pest, and therefore will touch base later. Let them know that if a position becomes available that is a good fit for you, that you remain interested.

Continue to look for other positions and work on your interviewing skills. No matter how qualified you are for a position, there are many elements to the selection process. The selection process is often based on your image, personality characteristics and chemistry with the interviewer. Don't take this rejection personally, but do take the time to evaluate the way you present yourself.

Dear Sue: I disagree with you that an employee should always attend the company sponsored holiday party. Why? If the party requires a night away from home, it should be a choice, not a requirement. If it excludes spouses (and some do), all the more reason not to attend; I spend enough time with the people I work with.

Some of us don't drink and are not interested in an evening watching coworkers indulge and act like fools. I find attending the party more stressful than not attending. It is difficult to believe that my job security or value to my company will be base on whether or not I attend what should be a voluntary and purely social function. 

- Not interested in the holiday party

Sue Says: If the company sponsors an event, obviously it does so with good intentions and assumes people will attend. If the majority of employees attend and you do not, what message does your absence send to your coworkers and employers? They may assume that you simply don't care, are anti-establishment, unhappy with your company, or not a part of the team.

Not everyone enjoys company functions for a variety of reasons, but most people manage to attend. Your attendance may or may not directly affect your job security or value to the company, and you may never know. It may be one of those intangible things that will affect your image and reputation within the organization. Attendance is not mandatory; therefore, if you are looking for a way out, you've got it. If attending the party causes you that much stress, you probably are better off not attending.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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