Dealing with rejection

27 November 2020

It is easy to say how we should react to rejection and disappointment but how we actually react is really quite personal.

How we react to any difficult situation is dependent on who you are, your personality, your previous exposure to disappointment and ‘rejection’. The people who surround you and that all-important support network and those who influence your behaviours and emotions also impact on how you deal with rejection.

Rejection is a very harsh word and in the context of your job search it seems overly harsh to me. The reason I want to dismiss it is that when you apply for a job or go to an interview and you do not get the job you are not really being rejected. The employer has chosen someone else because that person, in their view, was a better candidate for this particular job. When we apply for a job we don’t have a right to expect to be offered it so let’s not call it rejection. Let’s call it disappointment.

Before we even address how you manage disappointment let’s focus on your job search and acknowledge that you need to prepare to succeed but also be prepared to deal with, and learn from, disappointment.

Think about where you are right now with your job search and all the things that contribute to that job search and its potential success or failure.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your level of self-awareness right now?
  • How is your confidence?
  • How good is your CV and have you accessed advice?
  • Are you making the most of your work experience?
  • What about interviews? Do you feel prepared? How do you cope with the pressure and have you accessed advice and help with your approach?
  • How is your mindset going into an interview?
  • Are you giving due consideration to the employer’s perspective?
  • Do you recognise that you have control of your interview performance and impact but not that of other candidates? Do you recognise that you also have little control over how the interviewer judges you?
  • Are you aiming to get the job you have applied for or are you aiming to do the best possible application and interview?

These are all open questions that will have answers that will change throughout your whole career. But they are of critical importance and will influence how you feel and also how you keep improving and learning about yourself.

How is this relevant to rejection and disappointment in your job search?

The answers to each and every one of these questions will impact on your job search and these questions are where your focus should lie.

If you can improve your answers to these questions you will enhance and improve your overall approach, confidence and competitiveness. The part you have control of is you and your actions. How many times have you heard successful sports people talk about focusing on the process not the outcome? You can and should apply that mindset so that you focus on what you have control of.

You have little control over what the employer decides and what other candidates do or don’t do. Your focus is on doing the best possible application and interview if shortlisted and if you maintain that focus your chances of breaking through and being the preferred candidate are much better. If you aren't the preferred candidate then you reflect, learn and improve for the next opportunity whilst accepting that you will feel disappointment and times of low confidence and that is ok. How you bounce back is the key.

Staying positive is not easy and we all deal with disappointment. However, focusing on the right things will make sure you keep moving forward and keep learning.

We either win or we learn