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No matter how confident a job seeker you are, job search rejection hurts, and it’s hard not to take it personally. But getting rejected for a job happens to everyone; in this competitive market, many job seekers apply to dozens of positions before landing the right role.
So how can you ward off job search rejection depression along the way? Well, you’ll have to build up a certain amount of resilience, as well as come up with a proactive plan for how to move forward. While this might look a little different for everyone, here are four tips to help you along the way.
1. Manage your expectations
When you apply for a job you really want, it’s easy to let your expectations get out of hand. You might think you’re perfect for the role and start to imagine you’ve already gotten hired.
Because your hopes are so high, you start to think of the job as something to lose, rather than as something to gain. And in human psychology, loss aversion is a stronger emotion than the joy of potential gain.
If you don’t get the job, you feel like you failed at something, and a feeling of job search rejection depression follows. But it’s important not to get so attached to the job opportunity that you feel like you lost something.
Rather, look at it as one opportunity among many. Other exciting jobs will come along.
While it’s important to give a job application all you’ve got, it’s also useful to manage your expectations. Try your best, but don’t assume you know what a hiring manager will decide.
Despite your best efforts, certain parts of the hiring process are out of your control.
2. Ask for (and use) feedback on your candidacy
After getting rejected for a job you thought you were perfect for, how can you bounce back from that job rejection?
Well, allow yourself to feel disappointed for a time, but then make the decision to get proactive! Start by thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to consider your application. Then (and this is the hard part), ask for feedback on why the company didn’t think you were the right candidate for the job.
Perhaps you’ll find out you were an excellent candidate and were close to getting the job, but another candidate had some exceptional experience that the company couldn’t pass up. Hearing this can give you a much-needed confidence boost, especially if your self-esteem took a hit from the rejection.
On the other hand, the interviewer might say you failed to highlight a key skill that was essential for the job. Or they may say there was something about your interview technique that didn’t sit well with the panel. While this feedback can be hard to hear, it can help you do better in your next application.
So if you find out you lacked confidence in the interview, ask someone to practice with you. If you’re missing something in your resume, rewrite it to emphasize that skill. And if you’re lacking a core competency, think about how you can strengthen your skill set, perhaps with a class or training.
By eliciting valuable feedback and acting on it, you can boost your chances of landing the next job opportunity that comes along.
3. Look for the silver lining
Staying positive is easier said than done, but practicing can help. Our brains are surprisingly elastic; if you train yours to focus on the positive instead of dwelling in the negative, you’ll develop a more optimistic outlook overall.
One silver lining is to remember that finding a job is not just about finding someone who will hire you, but about finding a company for which you really want to work. You’ll be spending a good chunk of your time working, so it’s not a decision you want to rush. You don’t necessarily want to marry yourself to the first attractive job that comes along.
If you’re worried about how to handle that job rejection phone call, remember that if it didn’t work out, it probably wasn’t meant to be. You want to go somewhere where your experiences are valued and appreciated. Use what you learned from this experience to refine what it is you’re really looking for.
4. Keep on searching for the right opportunity
One of the best ways to bounce back from job rejection is to keep looking and maintain momentum in your job hunt. Focus on the future, rather than dwelling on the past. As you encounter new and exciting opportunities, the ones you missed out on might not seem so special or one-of-a-kind after all.
One big mistake that job seekers make is suspending their search while waiting to hear back from a hiring manager. The waiting process can be really long, and you might miss out on other great opportunities.
Plus, it can be tough to get back into job search mode after taking time off. And if you only have one job prospect on the horizon, it’s likely to gain undue and unhealthy importance.
Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, keep on searching and applying. You might even find yourself with two job offers — and you can use one to leverage a higher salary from the company you really want to join!
What to do after job search rejection
When it comes to job search rejection, it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. Rejection truly is part of the process of finding the perfect fit for something that will occupy a big part of your life.
So use it to fuel your motivation and help you refine what you’re looking for. By drawing lessons from the experience, you can polish your application, hone your interview technique, and ultimately discover the job that will be the right fit for you.