Job hunting is a game. You apply to as many jobs as you can and hope to hear back from at least one. A week later or two later, you receive an email from your dream company saying that they want to interview you, and you are overjoyed. This is the chance you have been waiting for and you do not want screw it up. You spend hours preparing for the interview and on the day, wait in nervous anticipation. The phone rings- it’s your interviewer!– and you quickly pick it up. The interview begins, you answer the questions just like how you practiced and things begin to take off.
The first interview goes well and you end up passing the next round. Success! Once you passed that, you have the final interview where you believe you are a total shoo-in for the job and overall, the interview went smoothly just like the previous ones. A week later, the recruiter sends you an email that “regrets to inform you” they weren’t able to move forward with an offer. pause. In the nutshell, you didn’t get the job.
Now your first reaction is probably a punch of sheer disappointment, a pang of regret and the question of Why me? Poor me?
There is no point in questioning or getting depressed over rejection. If everyone felt bad about their shortcomings, we wouldn’t have learned from our mistakes and moved on, but it still hurts.
Here are some tips on how to overcome job rejection in which people have experienced many times and how to think about rejection as part of a learning experience for your well being.
First, You have to accept it
The first step to getting over rejection is accepting the fact that it happened and it happened for a reason. Though most of time you may not know what happened, thus only assuming, you cannot assume the worst. You’ll only spiral into a cycle of self deprecation and low self esteem which is not the right mindset to accept rejection. You might not have gotten the job because you weren’t a fit, your skills did not align with the position or it was just bad timing. In fact, sometimes a rejection is better because depending on the situation, there was probably a chance you might not have enjoyed the position to begin with- but enough assumptions.
“A boo is a lot louder than a cheer.”― Lance Armstrong
The most important thing you need to know is that you tried your best. Rejection isn’t the end of the world and it can lead to better things in the future. Just take rejection as a sign that it didn’t work this time and think about how you can learn from the experience, rather than trying to forget about it.
Second, Realize there is always room for improvement
Once you accepted your rejection, it is time to boost your self worth and develop a healthy cycle of self improvement. We all have skills that we are good at or qualities that make us who we are. In other words, we are who we are and that is what makes every one of us valuable. A tip I found helpful after I get rejected from a job or bomb an interview is to make a list of strengths and qualities that are important or meaningful to me and how can I convey that to potential employers. Once I list down qualities of myself, I narrow them down to my top five hard skills, top five soft skills and top five traits and clarify them. Why would these traits be important for others and why/how would they be important in relevant situations? How would a combination of these skills make me stand out and be a good fit for this company?
“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
In order to reduce the emotional pain of rejection, you need to improve your emotional health which will lead to higher self-esteem and confidence in the future. As humans, we have the capacity to constantly learn new things and overcome obstacles, big or small.
Third, Think about the experience and learn from it
Don’t criticize yourself! Instead of thinking about all the bad parts of the interview, think about the experience holistically; did you feel you and the interviewer got along well, was there any part of the interview where you felt unsure about or something or you stumbled when answering a question?
When rejection happens, it doesn’t always mean every part leading to it was bad.
Instead of framing your actions as something you did “wrong”, think about the things you did during your interview that are worth keeping for future interviews:
I would definitely ask this question to interviewers in order to understand the company culture better!
…versus actions that you need to change or think about:
I would need to do more research and think about how my skills better align for this position.
Don’t think about the things you did “wrong”. This is will only prevent you from getting over your rejection in a positive light and discourage yourself to try again. Instead, think about the whole situation and create a list of keeps and changes from your interviews you would like to improve on moving forward. That way, you can be aware of the situation but at the same time, be aware that there are not just cons to the experience, but pros as well.
Rejection happens for a multitude of reasons. It is our ability to become stronger and come to terms with it.
Fourth, Don’t overthink it
You could have been rejected for many things, but in the end you shouldn’t think about all the things you should have done but instead how can improve for next time or things you would like to do that you may not have done before.
“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” — Ray Bradbury
Most rejections are the result of whether or not you are a “fit” with the company, along with time and circumstance. Justifying why you didn’t get the job as well as the mistakes you made in an effort to understand why it didn’t “work out” is often not accurate and wastes your time. Considering you are basing things on what you thought you did wrong through mere assumptions is fabricating a story to fill in the gaps we don’t know. This can hinder our process to learn new things because we have to come an answer.
Fifth, Keep improving
There is always something we need to improve on.
As humans, we are inclined to constantly develop new skills and transcend our goals again and again. Learning from our mistakes and honing in new skills is essential to our sense of achievement and how we perceive our self worth. That is what provides the drive to constantly improve. I found that asking for feedback from my peers on myself as a designer or on my work has given me a perspective of my strengths and weaknesses and how I can improve from there.
“I think all great innovations are built on rejections” — Louise Berliawsky Nevelson
It is natural for us to search for purpose in our lives. We are fulfilled by the meaning life provides us, whether it through our job, relationships and the experiences we have. We hate things that lack purpose or when our life becomes an endless routine. We want to be challenged and create progress to find meaning. If we stay in the same place for too long, our spirits falter and we become too tired to do anything. We thrive on achievement and meaning which is why we need to look at rejection as something to improve from, rather than something that stunts our growth. It’ll only make us stronger in the long run.
Sixth, Try again
When we try again, we begin to notice our mistakes. From the tiny details of our mistakes, we begin to see the big picture of where things went wrong. We then begin to correct each mistake until it becomes the result of our success.
It’s okay to fail. At times, it can be better than success because achievements don’t usually tell you what you need to improve on.
Lastly, We achieve success by learning from our mistakes
Rejection gives us the opportunity to try again and opens the door for new opportunities that you might not have gotten if you did succeed. When you try again, you start to understand your potential and improve. By understanding yourself and where you stand, you are one step closer to learning from rejection and realizing that rejection is nothing compared to what you can achieve from it. The worst thing you can ever do to yourself is give up. If you don’t try, you can never realize your full potential and achieve your goals.
Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it just isn’t the right time or you weren’t ready. Don’t let that stop you. I have been rejected from countless jobs and though it still hurts a little bit every time I receive the e-mail of truth, it has resulted in me stepping back to assess the situation and coming to terms with it. That way, I can continue to do my best and improve from those experiences, whether it is improving my portfolio or being prepared to answer extremely open questions during an interview. Even when I succeed, I keep telling myself that I cannot be stagnant and push myself to make small improvements to be even better and reach bigger goals.
“Chase your dreams until you catch them…and then dream, catch, and dream again! ”
― Dee Marie