When preparing for the job hunt, most of the advice and support you receive focuses on the positive process of finding a job — but very few people will tell you how to deal with rejection. This may be for good reason: if you heard too much about rejection before you even started applying to jobs, you may find it hard to muster up the enthusiasm and energy that a job hunt requires.
However, dealing with rejection is a reality of the job-search process, given the competitiveness of the job market. How you deal with rejection will have a positive or negative effect on your job search and your motivation going forward. That’s why job seekers should know how to deal with rejection in the most constructive way possible, and why I have outlined four ways to do just that:
1. Get Feedback
Don’t let your disappointment get in the way of making sure you get real, practical constructive feedback to help you find out where things went wrong, so that you can right them the next time around. This is a key element of dealing with rejection, and if you implement the feedback you receive, you can improve your personal brand and increase your success rate in the future.
If you are working with a good recruiter, getting feedback should be easy. A well-connected recruiter will have a strong client-side relationship and will be able to supply good feedback. Otherwise, you may need to request constructive feedback from the rejecting employer.
2. Ask Yourself: Would You Hire Yourself in These Circumstances?
This is a good technique to help address the disappointment you may feel after being rejected, and it can help you refocus and look to the future instead of the past. Try to put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask yourself whether you would hire yourself for the role, given what you know about your abilities.
Be honest: really assess your experience and skills against the challenges of the job that you learned about during the interview process. You may find that while you heart doesn’t agree, your head actually supports the company’s decision not to hire you. This kind of rationalization can help you to accept disappointment gracefully and move on.
Of course, if you really do think you would have hired yourself, then you should consider the rejection to be the company’s loss and take some comfort in having avoided an employer that can’t recognize top talent when it sees it.
3. Put It Into Perspective
Job rejections are normal. They happens to every one, and being rejected is just a step on the road to getting a job. You shouldn’t be too concerned about the odd job rejection, unless the number of rejections you’ve received exceeds industry averages.
For example, this Times Higher Education Supplement article shows that graduates will apply for 12 jobs on average before getting their first job. So, if you’re a recent graduate and have applied for four jobs without any luck, you probably shouldn’t be too despondent. If you’ve applied for 16 jobs and had no luck, there’s still no need to panic, but you are falling behind the average. At that point, you may want to rethink your job-seeking strategies.
You should keep in mind that the applications-to-offer ratio may vary by country and sector, and the statistics I offer are just a guide. You’ll need to find the data that is relevant to your own professional area.
4. Change Your Job Search Strategy
There are many alternatives to feeling down in the dumps about a fruitless job hunt. If after putting things into perspective in the previous step you find that you are doing much worse than the average, or you keep answering “No” to question No. 2, it could be that you really have hit a brick wall. If so, you may need a change in strategy. The kind of changes you could make that might improve your success rate are:
- Lowering your salary expectations.
- Widening your commuting area.
- Revamping your resume/CV and cover letter.
- Joining local social/professional groups and starting to network and find business contacts. (Meetup.com is a great friend-making and networking tool!)
- More effectively targeting employers.
- Moving into the freelance arena.
Good luck with your job search strategy in 2015!