Job Rejection Happens to Everybody – How You React is Key

Dealing with rejection in employment is hard, it taxes you emotionally and it contributes to a loss of self-esteem. It is similar to being rejected by a friend or a love interest. You feel a loss (potential employment), it makes you wonder what is wrong with you (your skills), and it makes you wonder if anyone will ever want you (future employers). The one simple fact you have to remember is that everyone experiences rejection in the workplace. There are 6+ billion people in this world and they all experience application rejections. It is how they react that makes all the difference.


You may have received a form letter saying “thanks, but no thanks.” This does not necessarily mean they “don’t like you” they may simply have a better-qualified candidate, are hiring from within, or have decided to eliminate the opening. You may not even hear anything at all from the company. Some job openings have hundreds of applicants and the company policy might be contacting only the applicants they want to interview. These situations are beyond your control. It is time to move on to the next company. Don’t dwell on it and don’t let it consume your thoughts. If you can’t let a rejection go, try sending a letter to the hiring manager thanking them for considering you and asking if there is anything in particular that you should work on in order to improve. There is no guarantee that you will receive a reply, but it may help you feel at peace with decision.


Don’t blame yourself or others for losing out on an opportunity. It is so easy to think that you are “not good enough” for a job or company or to think that the HR representative doesn’t know enough about the job function in order to hire you. Blame is a negative attribute and it does nothing but sidetrack you from your goals. If you still feel like blaming yourself, take an inventory of your skills by writing them out. A list of positives will help you to look past the rejection and allow you to move on. Get out past job reviews and remember why you were considered a good employee at past companies. Ask your friends what your best character traits are. Whatever you do, the point is to align yourself with the positive and let go of the negative.


Think about the job you applied for or the interview you had. Are there any skills or qualifications in the listing that you don’t possess? If they require experience in Microsoft Word and you don’t have any, buy a book or take an online class. You can master the skill while you are looking for a job. If they are adamant in their requirement for an MBA and you only have a BA, you may have to re-consider your future applications to listings with such strict requirements. (An indicator of this is saying, “must have” instead of “desired”). If you stumble over your words or freeze up in an interview, then you need more practice. Call a friend and try some mock interviews. Start out by being interviewed and then switch sides so you can work on your questioning skills for the inevitable “do you have any questions” inquiry. Practice until you can carry on without stumbling. Identifying the reason of the rejection and working on fixing it will help you to move forward.

There is a job out there for everybody. Your goal is to maximize your skills, find the right listing, and present yourself effectively. And if when you get rejected, accept the feedback offered, focus on your strengths, and plow forward.

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