How to deal with job search rejection

October 18, 2018

By Arnie Fertig at U.S. News & World Report on September 25, 2018

One undeniable truth about job searching is that rejection is part and parcel of the process. No one likes to submit a resume and hear nothing back from an employer. No one wants to go through the interview process and then learn that someone else was selected to get the job. But, inevitably, for every open position, there will be far more well-qualified people rejected than the one person who claims the prize.

The critical question you must answer is how you will respond to rejections. Sadly, some internalize the message and become depressed, lose motivation, question self-worth and ultimately give up.

A far better alternative, however, is to accept that rejection, to a certain degree, happens to almost everyone at some point along the way. You can use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself, refine your job-hunting skills and process and ultimately find a job for which you are well-suited.

Analyzing Your Outcomes

First, try to figure out what went wrong. Failure can be instructive if you do the work of analyzing what contributed to it. Carefully examine all the interactions between you and the employer.

If you aren't getting any other interviews for the same kind of position, you really may not be well-qualified for it and you should move on to another type of job. Or, it is time for a significant rewrite of your resume and cover letter.

If you make it to the phone-screen stage multiple times, reflect on how you handle red flag issues. There is likely a more productive way for you to deal with them that you can discover. How well were you able to articulate the stories of your prior successes and relate them to the work that needs to be done in the job for which you are interviewing? Were you able to convey solid reasons for why you felt that the job was a strong fit for you? Were you prompt with thank-you notes, and did you use them to tie up any loose strings that remained at the end of your conversation?

If you make it to the personal interview stage, ask yourself: Did you show up on time, looking your best? How was your posture, and did you look your interviewers in the eye? Can you learn from your mistakes and do better next time? Did you project enthusiasm and show your desire to add value to the employer or were you more aloof and concerned about what the employer can do for you?

Often, it's not you. You might have done everything right. It's frustrating, to be sure, but try looking at it from the employer's perspective. No matter how perfect you think you would be for a position, you never can know what small edge your competition might have on you. In most situations, it boils down to which of the highly qualified candidates gets chosen, and that's not a negative reflection on the ones who just barely missed the golden ring.

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