Whether you receive a rejection call, letter or email, or no response at all, it is important to remember that rejection is not a reflection of your self-worth. It may take many rejections before you win an offer.
Learning how to deal with rejection will keep you from sinking into a place of immobilizing despair that prevents forward motion.
Sigmund Freud said, “Sometimes when we are going through pains of rejection, it feels like a global conspiracy.” Those pains of rejection may include sadness, frustration, anger, uselessness and unworthiness. The main reason we see rejection as pain is because we see it as loss of control and most of us fear loss of control. Fortunately, there are things we can do that can help us handle rejection with dignity and purpose.
1. Be aware of your reaction to rejection. In an article on LifeScript.com, Liz Davis writes, “Being rejected can feel like an outright violation of our expectations, which is why many of us feel offended when we are rejected. When the rejection is very painful or unexpected, it can be scary, making us feel as though the world we live in is unsafe and malevolent. When things do not go the way we expect, we often feel devastated and powerless, especially if we are very attached to a particular outcome.”
Recognize your thoughts and emotions and realize that it is what you do in response to these thoughts and emotions that determines how you feel about yourself and your job search. You need to acknowledge the rejection, harness your thoughts, and realize that this is part of the process and you’re going to receive several rejections before you win your next position.
2. Talk to people you trust. Feelings of rejection may cause you to want to isolate yourself from others to protect yourself from further pain and damage to your ego. However, this will only feed the negative emotions of rejection. So be sure to connect with others—perhaps your mentor, career coach, a job search group, a religious group or close friends.
3. Don’t take it personally. It’s business. In most cases rejection in a job search is more about the company than it is about you. Hiring managers fear making a mistake that will cost the company money and are being extremely cautious. They are rejecting candidates who don’t appear to be a perfect fit, in essentially every category. While you may feel you exceed the requirements posted in the job description, perhaps not all of the requirements were disclosed. Alternatively, there may have been an internal candidate that they wanted to promote into the position and posting the position was a requirement of the organization.
4. Ask the interviewer for constructive feedback. Ask him/her what qualifications, credentials or experience you were missing. If you feel you were 100 percent qualified, ask the interviewer what qualifications the selected candidate had that won him/her the position. While it’s too late to defend your candidacy if you have the qualifications mentioned, it may give you some insight into what qualifications you need to articulate more clearly in your next interview.
5. Avoid over thinking the rejection. Don’t beat yourself up. Realize you are not the perfect candidate for every position you may pursue and you may never know the reason why. Take a minute to reflect on the last time you hired someone: Did you spell out every single qualification and credential you wanted for the position? Most likely you only communicated the most important ones. Then, during the interview you drilled down on details and identified the perfect candidate while also considering if this candidate would be a good fit and if you could work with him/her.
6. Take action and get moving. Control the controllables. Increase and expand your network and job search activities. Understand that this is going to take aggressive action and you don’t have time to worry about recruiters and hiring managers who don’t understand the value you bring to the company or are too consumed with doubt and fear to make a decision.
Sylvester Stallone, the actor, stated, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”
Earl G. Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, stated “We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.”
7. Develop stories to overcome any objections before they are raised. If you know there is an objection that employers will have, develop a way to present information that will overcome and dispel the objection before it comes up.
8. Take care of yourself. Get plenty of exercise to help you relieve stress. Write down all of your accomplishments and major contributions to every employer. Write down your greatest challenges and how you handled them. Write about a time when you were asked to take on a totally new role and how you handled it. Create a list of your talents and skill sets. Review and add to these entries frequently. This record will help you concentrate on your value and will most likely come in handy during an interview.