Tips for handling rejection in your job search

If you’ve ever been turned down for a job opportunity, you know personally just how tough the disappointment can be. After going through what feels like a positive interview process and sensing that a job offer is within reach, receiving the dreaded “thanks, but no thanks” email or phone call can cause a major blow to your confidence.

Dealing with rejection is tough, but it’s an inevitable part of the job-hunting process – and it’s important to learn how to navigate these tricky emotions so you can learn from the experience and get back into the saddle. Here are some tips and tricks for handling rejection in your job search so you can move forward with your head held high.

Express your gratitude and ask for feedback.

Being turned down for a job may leave your ego feeling bruised, making it a difficult time to open yourself up to feedback. However, expressing gratitude to the interviewer for their time and making a simple request for how you could improve is a great first step. In doing so, tell yourself that it’s okay to accept the feedback now, but not respond to it until later. Simply tuck it away for a time when you’re feeling less emotional and more open to hearing it.

Remember that you’re not alone.

It can help to remember that the discomfort you’re experiencing is not unique – we’ve all missed out on jobs we wanted, and sometimes repeatedly. Rejection can feel embarrassing and shameful when we deal with it alone, but try opening up to friends or close colleagues and asking about their experiences. Hearing others’ stories and seeing how they were able to move forward can help you feel understood and heal feelings of loneliness.

Take time to reflect – but not too long.

After your initial emotions have passed, it’s a good idea to review how you think the interview process went. Digest what went well, and what could have been improved. Jot down some reflective notes, trying to rely on evidence and facts instead of emotions. To make the most of your reflection, set a time limit. It’s important to do a thorough review, but stopping your analysis after a set amount of time can prevent obsession and overanalyzing – which are neither helpful nor healthy.

Reject black-and-white thinking and overgeneralizing.

When we’re feeling rejected, it is easy to resort to black-and-white thinking with words like “always” or “never.” Recognize that overgeneralizing is an unhelpful emotional response that distorts reality. When you catch yourself saying words like “all,” “none,” or “every,” ask yourself whether those statements are completely true. Learning how to take on a more balanced viewpoint will help you work through your emotions and improve your self-esteem.

Make a plan of action.

Once you’ve reframed the rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow, you’ll find that making progress towards a goal is a sure-fire way to increase your confidence. After calming down and reviewing the experience with a balanced, unemotional eye, you’ve probably uncovered a few opportunities for personal development or polish. Start by identifying just one or two projects to avoid overwhelm and set achievable deadlines for yourself. Seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors along the way can help solidify what you’ve achieved and help you proceed with confidence on your next interview.

Accept that it’s not rejection, it’s redirection.

Not being selected for a job can feel extremely personal, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s not a personal rejection of you. At the end of the day, your candidacy simply wasn’t the best fit for the role or the organization. Try practicing positive mantras such as, “It’s not rejection, it’s redirection.” Perhaps your career path is taking you down a different road than the one you anticipated, but the next opportunity around the corner maybe even better. Practicing gratitude with an open mind is never the wrong choice.

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