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  • Writer's picturebeckywebber

Lessons we can learn from job search rejection

Many have likened their job search to being on a constant emotional rollercoaster. The joyous highs and disappointing lows coupled with the fear of not knowing where you will end up or how long it will be before you can get off.

For most people, their career is what defines them, their identity. Searching for a new job can feel like searching for a piece of yourself and until that piece is in place, you can feel lost and incomplete.

Job seeking is also a constant lesson in dealing with rejection. No matter how many well-intended people tell you not to take it personally, it stings every time and it can test even the strongest and most motivated among us.

So, how can you move beyond the pain of rejection to embrace what rejection provides you?

Rejection never defines you. Your reaction following rejection defines you.

Experiencing rejection does not cause you pain. Rather, it is the way that you personalise it and internalise it that does.

Leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and Ghandi all had the ability to see the higher purpose and bigger picture beyond the rejection they experienced. They did not let the non-believers diminish their own goals and beliefs.

So, try not to use a job interview as a measure of your professional worth. The hiring process at most companies is often difficult to gauge and typically out of your control. So just because you didn’t make the last round of interviews doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job.

What could you have done differently?

Take some time to reflect on your approach to see if there is anything you could improve upon with the next job you apply for. Take a step backwards to consider the whole of the hiring process, your CV, cover letter, what happened in the interview and any follow up activity. Using the benefit of hindsight, the job requirements and the people involved, ask yourself if you could have done anything differently to present a better version of you and be a better fit for the job.

Whilst most employers refrain from sharing solid feedback if you don’t get the job, there’s no harm in asking for constructive feedback. Make it ok for them to give you feedback by not taking it personally and to remove the fear of upsetting you. That you wish to learn from the experience to improve your candidacy with future jobs you apply for.

Always have a plan ‘B’

Don’t fall into the trap of putting all your hopes on one ‘dream’ job. When you have more going on, a rejection doesn’t hit as hard. Protect your mind-set by keeping your options open and continue to pursue other opportunities.

Super-heroes don’t always wear capes

Searching for a new job can stir up emotions, fears and limiting beliefs that can keep you awake at night. If you internalise those emotions, you’ll perpetuate the production of additional stress which will continue to bring you down.

Instead, look at these emotions as a trigger to make a change in your behaviour or outlook. A great way of doing this is to turn to a friend, family member or mentor who can provide you with a positive and helpful reminder that you are a person of tremendous value despite the challenges you are facing. It’s amazing how powerful and reassuring a few words can be at a time when you are at a low ebb.

The best way to deal with rejection, hard as it may be, is to keep a smile on your face. Rejection can be one of our greatest gifts if we are open and willing to learn from it. By staying focused on your ultimate goal, the day will come when you and that great job are finally matched.


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