How well do you deal with rejection?
As I’m currently in the process of job hunting, I’ve had to deal with a lot of rejection lately.
I recently had two job interviews. The interviews went well and I was feeling confident and hopeful. Both companies said they would get back to me next week.
By the end of the next Wednesday, I received the dreaded email from one company saying I didn’t get through to the next round.
Trying to be proactive I emailed the other company to follow up. They said they would call me at a certain time. I started to get excited. I’ve learnt from job hunting, that emails are usually bad but phone calls are usually good.
Unfortunately this was not one of those good phone calls. I didn’t get the job.
I was disappointed. I was gutted because I really wanted that particular job. I felt the sting of rejection.
No matter how we cut it, rejection can be hard.
Here are my thoughts on how to deal with rejection.
Admit that you are upset and/or disappointed
I think a lot of the time we try to pretend we aren’t disappointed or aren’t upset.
We tell ourselves we’re ‘fine’ and it wasn’t the right job for us anyway or that we didn’t really want it, when we know deep down that’s not how we feel at all.
It’s okay to admit you don’t feel fine and that you are disappointed.
Admit you feel rejected
Well meaning friends and family will tell you, you haven’t been rejected.
They will tell you not to take it personally and say that the person who got the job probably had more experience (or something along those lines).
While the above may be true (more on that later) the thing is for you it will probably still feel like a rejection.
It might feel incredibly personal.
And that is okay.
Our feelings are often not the truth. While we might logically know that, it doesn’t dismiss what we are feeling.
I think a lot of us try to minimize our feelings instead of actually feeling them. As an INFP personality, I feel my feelings regardless of whether I try to ignore them or not.
Just for the record, I’m not saying you can’t control your feelings but you can only control them when you acknowledge them in the first place.
Personally, it works better for me to feel the feelings and deal with them upfront instead of pretending they don’t exist.
This isn’t about wallowing and getting depressed over every rejection you feel, it’s about processing your feelings so that you move forward instead of backwards.
Remember rejection is a feeling and feelings pass.
I find the best thing is to distract myself with something I enjoy and find interesting. For me, it’s this here blog.
Over the weekend after finding out I missed out on both jobs, I concentrated on working on the blog. I didn’t do any writing (because that takes a lot of concentration and I wasn’t quite in that head space) but I did do lots of admin behind the scenes work and it was a great distraction.
Accept that you did everything you could
I know I interviewed well. I’ve had enough interviews over the last 5 years to know the difference.
I’ve had some terrible interviews where I knew there wasn’t a call coming and I made peace with that as soon as I walked out of the interview room.
But these two were different. I did the preparation, I wasn’t too nervous and I was feeling confident.
I did everything I could and I have to accept and acknowledge that.
Plan to do better next time
Perhaps the interview didn’t go as well as you would have liked?
Believe me I understand. I’ve had some shocker interviews where I have walked out shaking my head thinking that was a complete waste of my time.
I remember one interview years ago where I had trouble speaking. My lips felt like they were literally stuck together and I couldn’t get the words out. It was a hot day and I was dehydrated and desperately needed some water.
Interview tip – always ask for water before the interview and don’t be embarrassed to sip it during the interview. It will definitely help with the lips sticking together scenario!
Of course the other way you can plan better next time is to be better prepared for questions.
Monitor and correct your self-talk
As I’ve discussed before in an earlier post – How to Stay Positive, Motivated and Sane During the Job Hunting Process job hunting can be exhausting. It can also be emotionally draining.
More than ever our self-talk comes into play when we are feeling rejected.
Unfortunately it’s often when our negative self-talk raises its ugly head.
One thing to watch for is the use of the word ‘never’. After a rejection, you might find it creeping into your self-talk and into your conversations with other people as well. Watch out for saying ‘I’ll never get a job’ or anything along this line. Once you hear yourself saying or thinking this, you need to switch gears immediately.
The next thing to watch for is name-calling. You need to notice if you are saying anything like ‘I’m so stupid’ or calling yourself names.
It might be something more subtle like ‘what’s wrong with me’ or ‘why do they pick everyone but me’.
Whatever it is, you need to be aware of it immediately and stop yourself. Turn those negative vibrations into positive statements. Counteract each statement with a more accurate and positive one or shift your focus onto something else. You could even hum your favorite song in your head. If it distracts your negative train of thought (in a healthy way) – it’s all good.
Be prepared that you might have to do this exercise more than once. Just make sure you do it every time!
Related post – 3 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Positive Self-Talk
Understand that it might not be about you
This is the bit I mentioned earlier about not taking it personally.
I know that I have missed out on jobs because someone had experience working in an IT company and I didn’t so the other person got the job. It wasn’t personal.
It goes without saying you can’t have experience in every industry, knowledge on every piece of software and so on.
Sometimes you have to take comfort in the fact that it wasn’t about you. I know that’s easier said than done, but give it a try when you know it applies.
Don’t get too caught up on what family and friends say
You need to not get too caught up in comments from well-meaning family and friends.
While you are waiting for news, family and friends might be all ‘it would be a great job for you’, which of course is completely normal and supportive.
After they know you didn’t get the job, the tide turns and you might hear stuff like ‘it wasn’t the right fit for you anyway’ or ‘just as well you didn’t get it’.
While people mean well and they are just trying to be supportive, understand it might not make you feel any better.
One of my girlfriends simply said to me, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t get the job hon’ and I found that comforting because it didn’t try to minimize my feelings or rewrite earlier conversations we’d had about the role.
Don’t get too invested
Let me explain this one.
I’ve noticed recently that when I go for a job interview (particularly if it’s a job that I really want) I tend to get invested.
By invested, I mean I work out all the different public transport options and ways I can get to work. I think about where I can buy my lunch in that area. I imagine what it would be like working with my new manager.
In a nutshell, I form a mental picture of what my life will be like working for that company and that person.
I get invested.
To be honest, I’ve only recently realized I do this to the degree that I do. Now that I know I do this before I even get the job, it’s time to tone down my enthusiasm a little.
Admit you need the money
When it comes to job hunting, you might be invested in a completely different way – you need the money.
It can be hard (or more to the point stressful) when people say things like ‘don’t worry something else will come along’ and while you agree there will be other opportunities, that doesn’t help you pay the bills right now.
It’s okay to admit that part of your disappointment is about money.
Of course the other side of the money equation is that you might already be working and have gone for a promotion but a coworker or an outsider got the job instead. You might have asked your boss for a raise and the answer was no. You might have started planning what that extra money could have meant to your lifestyle and you feel disappointed when it doesn’t pan out the way you wanted.
Accept that it might not be your last rejection
I know this might sound difficult but sometimes you have to wrap your head around the fact that it might not be your last rejection.
While you want to walk into an interview confident and hopeful, with an “I want this job” attitude; you don’t want to walk into an interview thinking something like – ‘I absolutely have to get this job because I can’t be rejected again’. The second option is going to put you in a completely different and a lot more desperate state of mind, which won’t bode well for the interview itself.
On the plus side (it’s always important to see the flip side of things as well) sometimes rejection is a blessing.
Sometimes you might go for a job interview to get a feel for the people and company and walk out thinking to yourself – please do not let them call me. Remember interviews are a two way street, they are there so that you can decide is you want the role as well.
You might have interviewed well but you know in your gut that you do not want to work there.
Understand you might have to deal with a LOT of rejection
My Mum rang the other day (which was very sweet of her) to see how I was going after missing out on both jobs.
While I was talking to her I mentioned that they weren’t my only rejections. Since I’m applying for a lot of jobs at the moment, the truth is I average about one rejection letter a day.
Rejection is a constant for me at the moment.
It means I have to be strong. I can’t fall apart or get emotional over every email rejection I get or I would never get anything done!
Sometimes rejection is going to be constant. It’s not easy but sometimes it’s just the way it is.
You have to be brave, stay strong and muster all of your courage.
Most of all you have to keep believing in yourself.
Move on quickly
This is the important part. Dealing with your feelings and moving on quickly go hand in hand.
You need to adopt a moving forward mindset. You need to think onward and upward.
With moving on, it also helps to think outside the box a little. Perhaps it’s time to think about starting your own business, looking at different work options or changing career paths.
Moving on means being open to new opportunity.
Related post – How to Believe in Yourself When People Don’t Support You
Deal with rejection
While this post was written with rejection of the job/work nature in mind, some of this advice also applies to our personal lives.
Dating kind of sprang to mind as I was writing this post. Finding someone to spend your life with takes courage and sometimes dealing with a lot of rejection. It also involves not taking things personally, dealing with your feelings and moving on quickly.
Friendships can sometimes have an element of rejection to them. Hell for that matter, so can family relationships! Sometimes we feel rejected by family members.
For whatever reason we feel rejected, we need to find healthy positive ways of dealing with rejection.
Regardless of how many times you hear the word no – you need to remember that it only takes one YES to change your life.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends via social media. Someone might just need some help dealing with their feelings of rejection today!