2nd Place in a Job Search… Not Always The 1st Loser!

MGR Accounting Recruiters in
on Feb 15, 2014. Posted inBlogging In Balance

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I know… close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.  This is not always true in a horseshoejob search though.  Recent events with two “2nd place” candidates and how they reacted to the news caused me to feel the need to convey a few thoughts on this situation.

Obviously coming in 2nd place doesn’t do much for the job seeker in the near term – there is no 1/2 paycheck for 2nd place!  However, there are still potential opportunities for 2nd place candidates.  Should this ever happen to you, a few things to remember are:

  • You were a finalist!  Most employers have difficulty making a decision with just one good candidate and so they do their best to have a couple choices, even in the final round.  Therefore coming in 2nd place frequently means that they felt you were a good match, but that they felt slightly better about the other person and unfortunately could only hire one.  It’s not that they didn’t like you, it’s just that they only had one opening at that time.
  • There will be other openings.  Unless the organization is very small, they likely lady's hand crossed fingerswill at some point in the future have other openings you may qualify for.  And if you were a finalist before, they may consider you again.  For this reason it’s important to not show any frustration with coming in 2nd place.  It’s important to continue to be gracious so that they approach you about the next opportunity down the road.  People hire people they are comfortable with.  Showing frustration can damage that feeling.
  • It may not work out!  Sometimes the 1st choice candidate does not work out.  This can be for many reasons such as they have multiple opportunities and decline the job, or they were looking for more money than budgeted for the job.  It makes sense that the employer would select the best qualified person for their position, but sometimes this person is unfortunately out of reach for the company.  By not letting your disappointment show and by not holding the decision against them, you make it a win-win situation by getting the job you wanted in the first place.

In my 20 year career I’ve seen many situations where the supposedly 2nd choice candidate ended up getting the job, or one just like it with the same employer.  Obviously every situation is a little different, but the mere fact of coming in 2nd place doesn’t always mean that it’s over.

I wish you the best in your job search.