The feeling of rejection comes up a lot when searching for a new job. Most of us hope things work out seamlessly when we start something new or go after something we care about. As Robert Burns states though, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Unfortunately, no matter how carefully we plan and prepare, life usually doesn’t go according to our plans. When you’re putting yourself out there by networking, applying online, or interviewing for a position, it can be difficult not to take it personally if you don’t get the results you expect. Even if you walked away from an interview thinking, “I’m not sure if that role is a good fit for me,” it still stings if the company is the one to ultimately reject your candidacy.
It sometimes helps to remember that when you become a job seeker, you become a marketer. Just like a business, you must establish and build a brand that is attractive to potential employers. Every brand or company has growing pains even if on the outside it appears to be wildly successful. Every salesperson has heard “no” countless times. Through the careful process of analyzing, evaluating, and optimizing your candidacy, you will get better at telling your story, getting you that much closer to a “yes.”
When the nagging feelings of discouragement, resentment, or limiting self-beliefs start to bubble up, remind yourself that camping out in this negative space is counterproductive. What we need to focus on is dusting ourselves off, letting go of the stress, and moving forward with dedication and persistence.
Here are a few steps to help you deal with job-search rejection and get your mojo back:
Dealing with Rejection
- When you feel like you’re in the dark about the status of your application and you find yourself wondering, “what’s wrong with me?” notice the disruption you feel and any tendency toward negative self-talk.
- Leave these negative feelings behind and remind yourself that some things in life are out of our control. How often have things gone exactly how you thought they would? For me, I know that answer is hardly ever. Circumstances change constantly, and things don’t often go according to plan, so we need continuously adapt to our present surroundings.
- Shed any insecurities that block feelings of self-confidence. Shrug off past mistakes, so you can focus on putting one foot in front of the other. As Dr. Seuss once said, "today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." Our past experiences brought us to who and where we are today. Embrace the challenging experiences that have formed your character and developed some of your most wonderful qualities.
- We cannot control the past, but we can accept it, learn from it, and continue moving forward. Whatever your goals are, you are going to have to evolve to get there, and that's great news! Because if what you're doing doesn't work, you can pivot and try to approach the situation from a different angle. Consider obstacles that you’ve faced that you can adjust for in the future – perhaps you need to tailor your resume for each position more precisely, so you must do more keyword research or spend more time analyzing each job description before applying. Maybe you need to have a higher level of activity related to your search. Perhaps you need to identify who the hiring manager is and plan how you’re going to reach out to them, what you’re going to talk to them about, and what would make them interested in talking to you. There’s always a solution to common job search hurdles, and it’s likely that someone else has discovered a better way, so dig into some research.
- Read the job description thoroughly and be brutally honest with yourself before applying for the job. Are you a viable candidate? Keep in mind that applicant tracking systems will only pass your profile along to a hiring manager if your skills match 60% of necessary qualifications.
- Adjust your method, so that you are continually improving. When you treat your career search like an iterative process, you take failure off the table as you’ll only continue to evolve and grow. As you're doing this, you're adapting, you're changing, and you’re going to make it happen.
- Seek advice from a trusted mentor or get professional help by working with a coach to help you narrow down positions that combine things you're good at, things you enjoy, and things that an organization will pay you to do. Consider the relevant experience you need to be qualified for those roles and investigate how you can gain the knowledge or training that you’re lacking.
It's essential to remain consistent with your job search efforts while you’re waiting to hear back from potential employers. Acknowledging that curve balls will inevitably come your way and doing your best to take things in stride will help you flow with changing circumstances. Every application you submit and every new contact you make is a unique opportunity for a fresh start.
How can you adjust your method to ensure that you account for whatever obstacles you faced in the past? Share in the comments below!
Please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org any questions you might have about job search strategy. I am here to help!