Job Rejections: How to Deal the Right Way
Job rejections can sting when you first get them. After all, you’ve sweated the details. Worried about the interview. Prepared for it. And you showed up on time dressed to the nines and ready to put your best foot forward.
When you’ve gone to all that trouble and still get the form-letter rejection, it can crush your soul. Well, we don’t want that to happen to you in vain. In the following article, we’ll be discussing some steps you absolutely have to take if faced with this type of scenario. Let’s begin!
1. Ask for the Truth
You may not want to do this while the rejection is still stinging. That’s actually the best time to do it, though. It’s a great time to do it because the event is still fresh in your mind.
As much as you don’t want to hear the hard truth as to why you weren’t good enough, an honest assessment will allow you to make lasting connections to what NOT to do the next time you’re in this situation.
A word of warning, though. Don’t take anything personally. And be prepared to get feedback that doesn’t really help. Some companies won’t want to go there with you, and the ones that go through the motions will probably lay some lip service on you about being “impressed” but needing to “go in another direction.”
So why ask? Because, on the occasion an employer does give you substantive feedback, it can transform how you approach future job interviews for the better.
2. Do a Post-Interview Recap
Job rejections don’t usually come right away unless things went really badly. (If that’s the case, it should be fairly obvious where you went off-course.)
While you’re waiting to hear from your employer, do a post-interview recap. Do it before you even get a rejection. With any luck, that rejection will never come and an offer will.
But if it doesn’t, logging everything that was said — all the questions, your responses to them, anything that jumps out at you about the body language — will give you an opportunity to remember where the missteps might have been if you don’t get the job.
Don’t feel like you have to remember everything right away, though. The act of starting to recall what was said, how it was said, and how the interviewers responded to you, will open a channel that keeps the experience fresh one, two, or even three weeks down the road. Whenever something new comes back to you, make a note of it.
3. Research Job Questions
You should definitely be researching the questions you might be asked before the interview. Thanks to sites like Google and Quora, this is easier than it’s ever been. Find a forum specific to the industry and see if you can’t get involved on some active discussions related to the position.
Ask what questions others faced. Share some of your own. Hit others up for advice on what worked for them and what didn’t. It’s a great way to ensure you’ll be ready for the next opportunity, whenever that may come along.
4. Forget the Zone, Play One-on-One
In football and basketball, there are two forms of defense — zone and man-to-man, or, in our more enlightened times, one-to-one. Sending a resume randomly to some generic email address is you playing the Zone (and poorly, we might add).
On the other hand, you seeking out an individual who works at that company (one-to-one) and building a relationship with them, gives you a better chance of getting in front of the right people whenever the right opening comes along. In those scenarios, you can get the job even if your job interview isn’t necessarily gangbusters.
So if you’ve received a lot of job rejections, take that as your cue to stop playing the Zone and start going one-to-one.
5. Roleplay with a Friend
Assuming you’ve got the questions-and-answers part down — or you’re at least comfortable with your level of content mastery regarding the interview — ask a friend who’ll be honest with you to sit down and act out a mock job interview situation with some of the questions you’ve got listed.
A person can know exactly what to say and how to say it, but if it’s not coming out that way, then it can lead to a disastrous actual interview. That’s why you must practice. And not in front of a mirror. Sure, that’s going to help to some extent. But it won’t allow you to see actual human feedback to the words that are coming out of your mouth.
And while your friend won’t be at the same level content-wise as a job interviewer, he’ll be able to tell you a lot about how you’re connecting and whether you’re making any sense.
6. Fill Your Gaps
One of the big problems that could be leading to multiple job rejections — likely is leading to multiple job rejections — is a skills or education gap. Your resume is obviously missing something regardless of how good your interview abilities are.
So find out what those gaps are. You usually have an idea. But if you have to ask, go online or find someone you know who’s already doing something similar to what you’re doing and ask them about the education and experience they have. Compare notes. See what was important to their employers. Then start working to fill those gaps.
7. Get Cultured
No, you don’t have to start pretentiously naming all the “taste notes” in a sip of wine or knowing the difference between the dinner fork and salad fork. We’re not talking about that type of culture.
When we say “get cultured,” we mean you should acclimate yourself in the climate and the lingo of the job. Shadow workers in the field. Watch movies or television shows that have a reputation for being accurate in their portrayal of a given profession.
Watch YouTube videos, read books, and get into online chats with industry groups and organizations. By immersing yourself in the culture of the industry and the job type, you’ll be able to speak more intelligently on the job itself the next time you interview for a position.
8. Watch Good Interviews
Yes, we’ve mentioned YouTube once in this article already. But it deserves another plug here because it can be a great starting point for finding examples of real-life interview situations that you should and should not do. We often get hung up on the negatives, but there is much to be learned from the positive as well.
Seek them out. Learn the mannerisms. How the speaker sets up his answers and responds to follow-up questions. What he does with his hands during this time. Eye contact. You can learn a lot in a few short minutes of seeing how it’s done correctly.
9. Go Undercover
This type of undercover work does not involve great personal risk. However, it may involve some slight deception. Start a blog on the industry niche. Act like you’re a reporter, but be honest about doing it for your blog. If you work with a publication that’s already established, even better!
From there, play the role and contact your company-of-choice’s communications director. See if they have someone they can place you with who wouldn’t mind being featured on your blog. Once you get approval, turn the tables. That’s right. You interview them. Nothing has to be on the line. The pressure is off. At the same time, you’re grabbing valuable insights you can’t find in any books.
You may even mention during the interview that you’ve always loved the industry and that this particular type of job fascinates you. If they’re impressed enough about your questions, they’ll likely lend you the helping hand you need to get a leg up on the competition.
10. Beware Your Strengths
This sounds crazy, but your strengths can be dangerous, especially when it comes to job rejections. If you get rejected enough times, you’re likely to “fall back” on what you know. This can keep you from advancing in your career or ever finding the job that would actually make you happy.
We’ve seen it a million times — talented people working themselves into a glass ceiling and wasting the best part of their earning years doing what is “safe” to them instead of doing what pays. Don’t be that person. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life.
So resist the urge to be the big fish in the small pond. Challenge yourself daily to learn more and improve at what you do.
11. Do Not Lean Too Heavily on Friends and Family
Sure, they love you. But they also have a nasty weakness for telling you what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear. Fortunately, some of you have at least one family member who’ll give it to you straight when you need to hear it.
But most of your “loved ones” don’t want to bother. So don’t put much stock in what they say, even if it comes wrapped in the pretty package of positivity.
12. Grieve the Loss
Grieve may be too strong of a word, but not by much. Losing the opportunity at a job you really want may not be as permanent as losing a family member or friend, but you’ve got to give yourself the permission to grieve it anyway. After all, you believed intently you were the right fit for that position for a significant portion of your life, no matter how short or long.
When you were told “No thank you,” it was like that self-validation and confidence you had was no more. Completely stripped away in one fell swoop! So don’t be too hard on yourself, but give yourself the space to process the loss of what might have been.
13. Do It Yourself
If you can’t get anyone to hire you, then consider opening up shop and doing it for yourself a bit. You may have to start by working “around” the job instead of in it, especially when there’s a skills or education gap. But it’s possible to learn higher-level skills without the necessity of a college degree.
If you can work cheaply doing what you want to do, then you can build up enough of a reputation to be taken more seriously the next time you go in for a live interview. One person we know started as a freelance writer doing $5, 500-word articles filled with an old SEO practice called “keyword stuffing.”
He eventually evolved that job into a legitimate business that lasted nearly a decade before he was offered a high-paying government job essentially doing the things he taught himself to do with little experience.
14. Lower Your Expectations — No, Really!
If you want to work in a job but you’re constantly told you don’t have enough experience, then lower your expectations to take a lower-level job that hovers around the job you really want. This goes back to immersing yourself in the culture of the industry and how that can make you far ahead of other applicants.
Just make sure you don’t get comfortable. Lower expectations are good for getting a foot in the door and starting your advancement. But it’s not something you still want to be doing 20 years from now.
15. Work for the Experience
Sometimes working for free is your best bet to getting into an industry that’s exclusive with who it lets in. See what volunteer opportunities are out there by Googling your industry along with some command like “nonprofit” or “volunteer.” You’ll find tons of places willing to work you for free.
But those freebies you’re giving them could very well lead (quickly) to a job you actually want. And the references you make along the way will be invaluable.
Job Rejections Should Not Be the End of You
Job rejections can only take away your hope if you let them. By adopting the above guidelines, you’ll avoid the temptation to throw away your ambitions, and you’ll eventually arrive at the place you want to be personally and professionally. So, readers, what are some of the most helpful things that you’ve done to overcome job rejections? Sound off in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by The Metzner Group]