Dealing With (Job) Rejection

Rejection sucks! You write and submit an application, wait for what feels like an eternity for a response and then get a rejection – or worse – no answer or acknowledgement that you applied for the position at all!

No one likes to be rejected for a job. Whether you had your heart set on getting it, or weren’t even sure you wanted the job, it still hurts to find out that you’ve been turned down. Being turned down for a role you really want is never pleasurable or easy, and it sure can reduce your confidence and lead to frustration at the whole job search process.

It can be especially hard to cope with job search rejection when it happens over and over again. Rejection is hard because our brains are hardwired to pay more attention to negative events than positive ones. This “negativity bias” is exactly why we feel so disheartened and take rejection out of proportion.

Recognise that most job advertisements are quite competitive, and many talented candidates are often rejected due to an employer inundated with applications.  It is quite likely that the employer is not actually rejecting you, but rather saw another candidate first, or as a better fit for their company or business.

The reality is that the number of people turned down for jobs outweighs those who receive an offer. When someone else is selected, it doesn’t mean a conscious choice was made against you. Job rejections are an inevitable and unavoidable part of the application process and not an uncommon experience for job seekers.

Don’t regard a job rejection as a statement about you personally. Employers need to make a decision based on the candidate they believe is best suited for the role in the company. It’s unlikely that not getting the job was the result of the hiring manager making a conscious vote against you. The greater likelihood is that another candidate’s experience or personality resonated more strongly with the hiring manager.

Even when you feel you are well-matched with the job sometimes there can be something that isn’t “wrong” but it’s wrong for the job, such as that you’re soft-spoken when they’re seeking someone more assertive. Sometimes there is something completely subjective, like that you remind the interviewer of a former co-worker he didn’t get along with. You may have more experience than the interviewer does. You may intimidate them without even being aware of it!

Many more people are turned down for jobs than get them – that’s a simple fact. Once you accept that, you can focus on the next opportunity. So even though it can be really hard to accept the fact that you didn’t get the job, it’s important to remember to take a deep breath and keep your emotions under control. Don’t burn those bridges.

Be aware that the people you meet and who interview you are guaranteed to know other people within that same industry and in a variety of other industries as well.  Every opportunity is a networking opportunity, and every job interview can lead to a job—even if it’s not the one you applied for. So put your best foot forward, be professional and know that it is out of your control who they hire.

If you respond unprofessionally or negatively to their rejection letter, phone call or email, you can be sure they’ll let their network know. No one wants to hire someone who can’t handle tough or challenging situations. Employers want to know how you can help them, not how they can help you.

Sustaining a positive mental attitude is an important part of dealing with job rejection. Don’t use a job interview as a measure of your professional worth. If you make yourself the victim you won’t get stronger — you’ll get weaker. You are not a victim.  Your professional validations are your strengths. By recognising your strengths and ability to succeed in the face of challenge is a simple exercise that can instantly shift you from bummed out to totally psyched. Coming to grips with this fact and learning to accept rejection as part of the process will help build your mental and emotional armour. Stay positive and identify opportunities that you are passionate about, and that passion will show through in interviews.

Most of us have faced some form of rejection in our life at one point in time, whether dating, or job searching, and the difference between job rejection and being jilted by a prospective/current lover is that job rejection can be forgotten much faster than a failed relationship

It’s a hard fact that you’re not going to land every job you apply for. No one does. Learning to handle rejection is one of most important skills you can develop in your job search. If you are afraid of rejection you will be less likely to pursue opportunities that suit your skills. Make sure you prepare yourself psychologically for rejection. Just know that it’s going to happen, and generally, it’s not personal, even though it feels that way. You are definitely not alone, and you are not in the minority if you are rejected, for example, acknowledge that there are often 100 candidates for one position. That means 99 rejections.  You are not defined by your rejection because hiring decisions are typically subjective, it is entirely possible that another recruiter might have chosen you.

The minute you remember how talented and skilled you are, your mojo will begin to come back!



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