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How To Deal With Job Rejection

Posted By Jim On 01/14/2009 @ 12:31 pm In Career | 19 Comments

When I first graduated, the job market was bleak. It was so bleak, I opted to start attending graduate school before ever being accepted (I graduated early in December and wanted to take classes immediately, so I attended while applying). In the few months I did look for a job, I received a whole batch of GFY (go f- yourself) letters from all types of companies. The worst ones were from the companies I didn’t even want to work for, but would accept just to have a job. It wasn’t a pleasant time for me, or my graduating friends, but it taught me a lot about dealing with rejection.

It Really Isn’t Just About You

Much like love, getting a job is about making a good match. You, the candidate, must match the job better than anyone else the company considered. Precision matters here. If you’re not a strong enough candidate, they won’t hire you because you won’t be able to do the job. If you’re too strong a candidate, they won’t try to hire you because you might want too much money or you’ll leave at the first opportunity.

I took the first few rejections personally, especially for those jobs I thought I could land. I knew I was up against the best of the best though, these were the same classmates I competed with for the last four years. I got over it when I went on a site interview with Ford, to their “Leadership Conferece” (that’s just the name they give their on-site interviews). I was peppered with IT related questions I stood no chance of answering. “How do you set up a local area network?” “What’s your experience building server racks?” Computer science is wholly different than IT. I stood no chance of getting a job because they misunderstood what my degree was about! It was obvious then, but on a lot of interviews, it’s not quite so obvious. At least I got a few meals and a nice leather messenger bag of out it (I still use it today!).

Rejection Beats Being Ignored

While being rejected sucks, it beats being ignored by a long shot. There’s a certain monotony to submitting resumes into an online digital drop-box and for nothing to ever come of it. You feel helpless, like throwing stones into the ocean. When you get a letter back telling you that you won’t be a good fit or that the position has been filled, you should learn from it. If you weren’t a good fit, why? Did you not satisfy one of the requirements? Can you take a class or do something to improve your resume and your skillset for next time? If the position has been filled, perhaps there’s a name you can contact to talk about other opportunities you might be a good fit for. An answer, even a negative one, can be the beginning of a dialog that ends well. If nothing else, it’s feedback you can use.

It’s A Numbers Game

Finding a job is a numbers game and in a recession, the percentage of success gets smaller and smaller. You’re trying to hit the bulls-eye on the dart board, the more darts you throw, the better your chances. What that also means is that you’ll be ignored or rejected on every dart, except the last one. The best advice I can give on dealing with this are these three morale-boosting job hunting tips [3]. They served my wife well and I hope they help you, if you’re searching. They help give you progress when it feels like you’ve made none.

Learn From Being Rejected

A common vein throughout all those points is that you should try to learn from the process of rejection. If you are interviewed and told you aren’t the person for the job, elicit feedback. Ask why you aren’t the strongest candidate and use those answers to make yourself a better candidate for next time. The key to winning the job search marathon is to learn from your mistakes, make yourself stronger, and keep working.

Do you have any tips on dealing with being rejected for a job?

(Photo: sarah_azavezza [4])


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[3] three morale-boosting job hunting tips: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/three-morale-boosting-tips-for-job-seekers.html

[4] sarah_azavezza: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarah_azavezza/2803777802/sizes/m/

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