“The right opportunity will come along.”
“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
”Keep your chin up!”
If you’ve recently experienced a string of job search-related rejections, you’ve probably heard some version of these clichéd consolations… And not one of them made you feel any better. That’s normal. Being told to “put on a happy face” when you’re only experiencing frustration and stress is beyond annoying. Just remember that the average well-wisher probably does have the best of intentions, so resist the urge to dump your coffee in his lap. Rejection sucks. There’s no getting around that. It is okay to feel bad for yourself (go ahead and crack open that pint of Chunky Monkey). But, ultimately, you have to find a way to push past rejection and keep moving forward. It’s the only way you’ll eventually find yourself on the receiving end of a job offer.
Here are four tips for maintaining a positive attitude amidst rejection.
Read About Others’ Rejection.
Lots of famous, successful people experience tons of rejection before becoming “overnight successes.” Luckily, many of their stories have been documented and are available for public consumption. Both Stephen King and J.K. Rowling famously received dozens of rejection letters from publishers before their characters became household names. And, here’s another household name with a history of rejection: Spanx. Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of the famous shapewear company, was turned away by countless manufacturers and retailers before gaining any traction.
While there’s some truth in the old adage “misery loves company,” that’s not really the point. The biggest takeaway from these rejection-turned-success stories is that none of these everyday heroes ever gave up. They knew they had something of value to offer, and they kept putting themselves out there until someone recognized their talents.
Utilize Your Down Time.
A job offer is a cause for celebration. But the minute you accept it, a good chunk of your time is no longer your own. The silver lining of rejection is that you have what so many of your gainfully employed friends and family truly want: TIME. Don’t squander it. We covered some productive ways to use the time between jobs is a recent article. Take a class, craft writing samples, read best-sellers. Proactively doing something that will improve your chances of getting a job will make you feel better about temporarily striking out.
Remember that Hiring is Subjective (and You Don’t Know the Whole Story)
Anyone in HR can tell you that, during the hiring process, it’s not uncommon to whittle down the group of applicants to two equally qualified, yet very different candidates. In these cases, the final decision often comes down to perceived cultural fit or, quite simply, the hiring manager’s personal preference. The reality may be that the manager had a better rapport with another applicant. Other times, there may be office politics at play. It’s not uncommon for companies to go through the formality of publicly posting a job position despite having essentially promised the job to an internal candidate.
Bottom line: you’ll never know what’s happening behind the scenes. The only thing you can control is how you present yourself and respond to situations. Which brings us to our last tip…
Practice Grace and Keep the Door Open
It’s tempting to respond to rejection with a colorful rant or snarky quip, especially if you’ve invested time in preparing work samples or participating in rounds of interviews. Always err on the side of professionalism and grace, even when you feel like you’ve been given the runaround. As a rule, thank everyone for their time and ask that they keep you in mind for future opportunities. As a “runner up,” you could be called upon to interview for a different, more fitting position. And hiring managers get new jobs, too – you’ll want them to remember your name and resume for the right reasons.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.