We’ve all had to deal with rejection at some point in our career.
Whether you’re a professional with years of experience passed over for a promotion or a first time job seeker turned down for a role, the words: “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” can feel like a blow to your spirit, your confidence and your ego.
No matter how much you try to remain positive, in the back of you mind you contemplate your career worthiness and try pushing back the feeling of not being good enough.
Did I say something wrong?
Do I not have what it takes to get hired?
What is wrong with me?
It’s hard not to take a job rejection personal and yet I can tell you most of the time it isn’t.
As a consultant, I have interviewed, turned down and coached hundreds of job seekers and can tell you that being the bearer of difficult news isn’t easy. As a professional, I’ve also been on the receiving end of rejection (too many times to count) and can tell you that process wasn’t easy either.
I can remember a time when rejection was my state of normal. I would apply to positions I felt qualified for and either get turned down faster than it took someone to screen my resume or wouldn’t receive a reply at all.
My first instinct was to give up – throw in the towel, accept that I wasn’t good enough and continue to do work I knew wasn’t challenging me, allowing me to grow or giving my career purpose.
But I stuck through it, took the lessons and was eventually lead into a career that offered meaningful work that excites me.
Here are 4 tips on how I dealt with career rejection:
- Don’t Take It Personal
As I mentioned earlier, I know how hard it is NOT to take rejection personal and yet it isn’t. There are so many factors that come into play in the hiring process and it can be difficult to gauge when things are so much out of your control. Do not measure your career worthiness by the number of rejections you received. Use the opportunity to ask for feedback that could help improve your resume or interview skills, continue to apply for job you feel qualified for and keep your options open by not putting all your career hopes into one opportunity.
- You Are Not Alone
Everyone and their momma has faced rejection at some point in their career. Even people we admire like Oprah Winfrey, J. K. Rowling and Walt Disney faced rejection before they achieved success. In the moment, it can feel like you are the only person experiencing it. But I can tell you that there are many more people being rejected than those who land the role. I don’t say this to be the bearer of bad news but rather to help you see the truth that lies in the numbers. Let’s say 10 people apply for 1 job: the reality is that only 1 person will end up moving forward, leaving the other 9 to be turned down. Once you can accept that you’re more likely to be turned down than get the job, you’ll be able to focus on the next opportunity in front of you and putting your best foot forward.
- Do The Work
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and no where is this more true than in the job search process. If you have been turned down from a career opportunity, received feedback and haven’t implemented it to improve your chances the next time around, there is a chance that you may receive similar results. Now it may be that you had a good interview, no feedback and still were turned down for the job however there is always something you can learn from that experience. Whether it’s doing more research on the industry you’re interested in, focusing on your strengths or applying for opportunities that resonate with what you’re passionate about. Doing these three things, will allow you to stand out in an interview and increase your chances of career success.
- Stay Positive & Keep It Moving
The best way to face rejection is to stay positive. Take the lessons you’ve learned and stay focused on your ultimate career goal of finding the right opportunity. There is no value in continuing to relive your rejection by constantly dwelling on it or bringing it up to your friends and family. There is value in developing relationships and your network. If you really want to work for a specific organization, develop your network with people who work there, share your insights online to develop your personal brand and get out of your comfort zone by identifying how you can be of value to the organization or position you’re applying to. If you focus your energy on what you can control, you can position yourself for amazing opportunities that you didn’t even know existed.