Job Rejection: 4 Ways to Turn Disappointment into Determination

Job Rejection

The good news is you finally heard back from the company you interviewed with last week. The bad news is you didn’t get the job. 

Practically everyone experiences job rejection at some point in their careers, and being passed over is never pleasant. The job seeker who gets a form rejection via email instead of a congratulatory personal phone call can sometimes think the worst when it comes to future job prospects. Job rejection can dampen enthusiasm and zap motivation if you let it, but it can also serve as an important catalyst for honest self-assessment and renewed determination.

If you ever find yourself disappointed at not getting the job you wanted, these four tips can help you deal with rejection and move on to being proactive about finding something even better.

1. Ask Yourself What You’ve Learned.

You didn’t get the job, but that’s not the end of the story: What you learned will help you with future job searches. Ask yourself what you can take away from this job rejection experience to increase your chances for getting hired the next time around. If it helps you to mentally review the various stages of the process, by all means do so.  Don’t expend too much energy reliving the past, however. Looking for lessons is healthy, but staying stuck in disappointment never helps a job seeker move into the working world. The main purpose of this exercise is to help you go forward with a winning attitude and be ready when the next opportunity for an interview presents itself.

2. If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again.

If you’re thinking that’s a cliché, you’re absolutely right. But common sayings don’t attain cliché status by being irrelevant. Sure, the job you didn’t get may have been a good one, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other good or even great jobs still available. Allow yourself to feel the disappointment at not getting hired, but realize that ultimately it just means that other doors are still open for you. Make your attitude one of “onward and upward” rather than staying down in the dumps.

3. Formulate a Plan of Action, but Maintain Flexibility.

A plan of action doesn’t have to be a 1-2-3 series of events occurring at specific times in order to be effective. In fact, a plan of action that allows room for flexibility often gets better results because it takes into account the dynamic nature of the job market. It’s fine to end the week Friday with plans to apply at three specific firms Monday morning, but if a different job opportunity arises just as the work week is commencing, there’s nothing wrong with changing your Monday plans as long as the larger plan — continuing to search for a job — is still being served.

4. Stay Focused on What You Want, Not What You Didn’t Get.

If the job search goes on for an extended period, you may be tempted, like the wistful fisherman, to keep letting your mind drift back to “the one that got away.” But such thinking does little to help you catch another fish. Rather than daydream about what might have been, force yourself to move forward. If you feel stuck and unable to decide on your next move, networking can direct you to potential job opportunities.  Even if friends and associates are unable to give you solid job leads, their words of encouragement can help move you beyond the job rejection blues into an attitude of can-do optimism.

Disappointment at job rejection is natural, but it should never be debilitating. Remember you’re not the first job seeker to be rejected and that not getting hired isn’t the end of the world. By viewing job rejection as the learning experience it is rather than the final verdict on your skills and abilities, you’ll greatly increase your chances of successfully landing the position you want the next time out.

Do you have tips on dealing with job rejection? Share them in the comments below.

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