Job seeking is a challenging endeavor, and it could sometimes be frustrating (especially for fresh graduates). You might be encouraged at first, hopeful even, as you went out sending your application to various openings. Then, you got invited for some interviews. Then, comes the first batch of rejections. Sad.
Indeed, job seeking is not a walk in the park for rejection is inevitable, let alone exhaustion. And it isn’t fun. There will be moments in your job hunt when you feel less of yourself and you lose your confidence and self-respect.
And rejection can either make or break you. So, in this post we’ll talk about how to turn rejection into inspiration. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but never impossible. Being mindful of how you deal with rejection can spell a different career milestone for you.
Don’t take it personally.
Taking rejection personally is almost the first thing we do each time we get rejected. Eventually, we associate rejection to a failure to meet some sort of standard – a standard we fell short and consequently got us rejected, then we feel shameful, discouraged.
Is it okay to feel that way? Psychologists say, “No.” And here, we draw a line between guilt and shame – both unpleasant feelings but can steer you to take different courses of actions.
Shame means “I am wrong.” Guilt means “I did something wrong.” Shame hurts our self-image and our belief that we can change things we don’t like about ourselves or our situation. Guilt is about feeling badly about a mistake. Ultimately, shame does not lead to positive changes, guilt does.
Remember that there are many factors playing into a recruiter’s decision-making process. These factors usually include how you’ll fit into the team, whether or not the company can afford your asking salary, or there are simply many excellent applicants as well. The decision to hire someone or not is not about yourself per se, but about how you stack up against the other applicants, and only one person gets the job. There’s no reason to feel shame.
Yes, you might feel guilt but that’s okay. Perhaps you’ll regret not writing your best cover letter, not putting more oomph in your resume, or not putting your best foot forward in the interviews. It’s okay to recognize you did something wrong, or did nothing to boost yourself at all. Looking at things this way can help you refine yourself, sort of correct what you think you did wrong. Careful to feel you are wrong. You might have done something wrong. But you are not wrong.
Focus on your strengths.
Recognising our shortcomings and deciding to do something about them is a great start in coping with rejections. Easier said than done you say, yes, but it’s not difficult.
Remember that you have excellent skills and qualities that will be perfectly suited to another company and position – it’s all about finding the right fit. It’s important to focus on what we have and what we can do best – our strengths and our achievements. Make a list of them to help you boost your confidence and enthusiasm. And every time you get a piece of positive feedback, add that to the list.
Sometimes we often focus on our shortcomings and opportunities lost that we don’t see what good others see in us, or what great opportunities lie ahead. Mandy Edkins, a counselling psychologist, suggests that is you’re struggling to think of things you’re good at, ask your friends and colleagues what they would list as your strengths.
Understanding your strengths will also help you find a job that’s perfect for your skillset.
Find ways to improve.
Reflect on your job-hunting approach. See if there is any area you can revamp and improve. Revisit your application letter, your resume, or your professional networking accounts. Did you specifically highlight how the company will benefit from you? Did you emphasize how fit you are for the job?
If you went in for an interview but didn’t get the job, it’s always a good idea to politely ask for feedback to help you for next time. It’s reassuring to know why you didn’t get the job, rather than letting your imagination run wild thinking the worst. Take the feedback. Learn from it. Every job interview provides you with valuable experience, and over time, you’ll be great at it.
Also acknowledge what you did well and understand that some things are out of your control. Learn from every experience, but after that – let it go and move on to the next application.
Treat a new opportunity as a fresh start.
If somebody says ‘you cannot do it’, the best way to get back at them is to actually do it. You cannot scream at it, nor stare at it. You simply got to do it. Every opportunity is a chance for redemption. Every new day is a new page of your life – and you’re the one holding the pen, nobody else.
Concentrate on the present and treat every new job application as the one that could come through. Don’t dwell on your shortcomings in the past, but do reflect on them (there’s a big difference between dwelling and reflecting in the past).
Have fun doing other things.
This is cliche but this always does the trick: Have fun!
As for your job hunt, establish a routine, say a schedule and a set of targets (realistic goals). Then in between, do other things that make you feel good and help you to relax . You go out to see the movies. You can go out for a walk, or got to the beach with friends and swim with the fishes. Exercise is a personal favorite, you can try it, too. It’s also important to have someone to talk to. Talking with others about their job hunt experiences will show you that everyone experiences rejection, too. Emotional support is always welcome, so call a dear friend if you must.
If you need to, take a break.
Space and time heals anything. So, if you need some time and space give yourself a break to refresh and rebuild your confidence. By break, we mean real break – away from the computer, probably somewhere outside town, probably in a beautiful island.
It’s up to you to do what you believe can do wonders for clearing your mind and help you return to your desk renewed and ready to tackle your next application.
Keep calm, and keep the faith.
Job hunting requires persistence and resilience. The best way to deal with is to learn from every step of the journey. Know that rejection is a natural part of the process, and trust me, getting rejected and bouncing back from it even makes you a stronger and better person, and that feels great.
And you know what? No matter how perfect a job may seem, if you don’t get it then probably it wasn’t meant to be. It’s like romance, you know. If it doesn’t work out, it’s often only in retrospect that you realise that a ‘failure’ can be for the best and one rejection can pave the way for another spectacular opportunity. For all you know, you may have dodged a bullet.