In many ways, the internet is a godsend for job seekers. You can use copy and paste or auto-fill to upload your information, you can find jobs anywhere in the world, and you can track your applications. But the digital convenience means there is more competition than ever, and at times, it can seem like a job search is like screaming into a hurricane. More competition leads to more rejection, and that’s never fun.
With the sheer amount of competition out there and inconsistency between job-seeking strategies, rejection is extremely common, especially for entry-level jobs. You may even be ghosted completely by many companies. Rejection is something we all have to live with, but constant rejection can take a toll on your psyche.
“During the job search, you’ll be met with rejection and it’s even worse now. As companies are concerned over what will happen in the future, it’s hard to get noticed at the office, especially as everyone’s fighting to hold onto their jobs or get a better one.” –Jack Kelly, Forbes
If the rejection is getting the best of you, fear not! You can follow these steps to reframe your mindset and resume your search with a rejuvenated spirit and new strategies.
Take time to process
In spite of the frustration, it’s important to remember that others are experiencing the same rejection you are. The pandemic shook up the availability of jobs and was followed by the Great Reshuffling/Resignation, leading to more job seekers than usual.
Remember that, unless your application or resume was relentlessly hostile for some unknown reason, your rejection wasn’t personal. The University of Washington reminds us that your rejection isn’t a reflection of your skills.
“Most successful people have faced disappointment in their lives, and it’s a strength to remember that it’s rarely a reflection on you, your skills, or prior work experience. In fact, there are myriad other factors why the organization might have gone another way. This unfortunate experience may actually be setting you for a better opportunity in the future.” –The University of Washington
Still, the experience of being rejected can be disheartening. Understand how your brain reacts to bad news and adjust accordingly, Indeed states.
“Human brains generally remember challenging situations and painful feelings better than positive ones to help us avoid difficulties in the future. While this evolutionary skill can be useful, it’s often necessary during a job search to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your career and actively focus on those rather than the rejections.“ – Indeed
Be sure to immediately thank whoever sent you your rejection letter, but then don’t be afraid to take your time processing the rejection.
Look for feedback
Once you’ve taken some time to process, start looking for feedback so that you’ll be hardened and more prepared for your next opportunity. Once you’re in a good headspace, reach out to your interviewer, hiring manager, or recruiter and look for feedback on your application or interview. A request for feedback doesn’t have to be lengthy, a quick few sentences in an email should be enough, according to career coach Kyle Elliot.
The Idealist’s Alexis Perrotta wisely advocates keeping your feedback request on topic. The conversation isn’t meant to further sell yourself as a candidate or create a long dialogue. Make sure you are sincere and want the feedback to move forward, not as an excuse to talk to the manager once again. Sincerity makes it much more likely the hiring manager will take time from their schedule to offer their advice.
If you aren’t comfortable reaching out, or you don’t hear a response, ask a friend or colleague to look over your documents. They may be able to provide details you were too close to the situation to have noticed.
Look into new strategies
Your rejection was merely a setback. Having taken time to process the rejection and armed with new knowledge, you can prepare for the next leg of applying.
You can adopt new mental strategies so that each rejection stings less, and you can keep your spirits high. Forbes’ Jack Kelly discusses the idea of creating positive mantras for yourself to remind you of your self-worth. Capital Placement recommends focusing on your strengths.
“By focusing on your strengths and highlighting them in future interviews, you’ll be able to show employers why you’re the best candidate. It can also help you improve your interviews and even help you land your dream role.” –Capital Placement
If the rejections seem to keep piling on, perhaps you need to change your job-seeking approach altogether. CNBC Make It’s Morgan Smith suggests a three-pronged approach of setting job alerts, knowing what you’re looking for and how to define it, and expanding your network. Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s Bob McIntosh offers eight reasons to may not be landing a job and how to fix them.
Rejection hurts, and it’s hard to not take them personally, especially when rejections pile up. It’s important to remember you aren’t the only one in this situation, and you may need to take time to process your thoughts and refocus. Gather feedback if possible so you can tackle your next challenge with more vigor, and don’t be afraid to use new mental or job searching techniques to enhance your search.