Staying Positive in the Job Search After Rejection

There’s nothing quite like the sting of job rejection, is there? It doesn’t even matter where you are in the recruitment process or if it was a job you were interested in, and you get an email or call to let you know that you’re no longer in the running for the position. It’s deflating. Sometimes, it’s easy to dust yourself off and get back into the hunt, and other times it can feel like it’s just one more rejection to add to the pile, and it can be tough to feel optimistic. 

I have applied to many jobs throughout my career, which means I’ve had my fair share of rejections. Some I’ve been able to shrug off pretty quickly (especially if they were a long shot, to begin with), and some have left me seething for days. I’ve felt insulted when an auto-generated rejection showed up in my email without ever getting to speak to a recruiter, and I’ve had to hold back tears while listening to a recruiter tell me on the phone that I didn’t cut after weeks of interviewing. Suffice to say. I’ve been there. 

If you’re feeling this way, like you just cannot handle one more rejection at this point, I get it. However, you won’t get a new (better) job if you don’t keep searching, applying, and interviewing for different positions. So, if you’re not interested in staying where you are now, then you’ll need to take a deep breath and keep moving forward with a positive mindset. 

Coping With The Rejection

After a company has rejected you, the first thing to do is sit with it for a minute. I am aware that this might sound like pure torture if you’re someone like me, who hates feeling anything but happy, but by facing these feelings of sadness, anger, or disappointment head-on now, you’re avoiding a potential job search burnout later. 

The point of sitting with these feelings isn’t necessarily to overcome them. It’s to appreciate them. I know what you’re thinking. Who enjoys feeling rejected? That’s not what I mean, though. I mean that you should appreciate the feelings because they are evidence that you put a lot of work into this specific job application and your quest for a new position as a whole. Yes, many of the things you gather and submit for a job application are required to move forward in the process, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t still work. You still took time out of your busy life to make sure you provided the best version of everything asked of you, and if you made it into the interview process, you sacrificed even more of your time (possibly even some of your PTO) to be considered. That is what you need to appreciate because when you look at it this way, it’s no wonder you’re feeling disappointed. No one likes to do work for no reason!

Once you’ve taken some time to pat yourself on the back for all of your hard work, take a few minutes to decide your immediate next move. Are you more determined than ever to jump right back into the job hunt? Could you use a week or two off to get your attitude right? Or, do you just need to take the night to unwind and relax before you wake up and start fresh tomorrow? 

It’s okay to take some time off of the job hunt (assuming you are in a position to do so). To land your dream job, you have to dazzle interviewers and hiring managers by presenting them with your best self. And if you’re in a perpetual state of pessimism, then you’re not going to do yourself any favors when it comes time to interview. So, take the time you need to get back into a neutral (if not optimistic) mindset so that you can start moving forward. 

Staying Motivated & Moving Forward

Now that you’ve come to terms with your most recent rejection, it’s time to get motivated again. An excellent place to start is with this quote by Richard Branson:

“Opportunities are like busses - there’s always another one coming!” 

While you may have a dream job or company that you’ve had your heart set on for a while, chances are very high that there is more than one dream job and amazing company out there for you. It’s hard to remember when you’re at a standstill in your job search, but it’s a good reality check to give yourself to help you stay motivated. Here are some other things you can do to help you stay motivated:

  • Practice mindfulness and meditation regularly so that when you get a rejection, you will be better able to keep things in perspective
  • Consistently make changes to your online profiles, resume, and portfolio so that everything is up to date and highlights your unique strengths
  • Take regular breaks to avoid burnout; example: two days off every week or taking a week off every four weeks
  • Focus on networking when you’re feeling drained by the search and application process
  • Turn off email notifications on your phone when you’re doing something fun so that you don’t risk a rejection email coming through and spoiling your mood
  • Remember not to take it personally; you’re a lovely person, but there’s more to landing a job. Any rejection is not a reflection of who you are
  • Keep in touch with hiring managers you’ve interviewed with even if they ultimately chose another candidate because you never know when another opportunity will arise

Keep Going

The only way you can land a new job is by actively trying, which means putting yourself out there to possibly get rejected. It’s an unfortunate part of the job search process, but it doesn’t have to break you. Continue to check in with yourself throughout your hunt, and if you’re feeling pretty low and negative, permit yourself to take a break. By taking care of yourself, you’re ensuring that when it comes time to interview, you’ll be in the right mindset and ready to blow everyone away with how amazing you are. 

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