Coping with the potential, yet inevitable job rejections in life

Being turned down for an interview you thought you exceled in hurts. Seeing that email or notice that you did not advance stings. It is never a good sign that your “dream company” or “dream position” chooses not to move forward with your application.

A full-time position created by a company may draw hundreds of applicants, but may yield less than a dozen interviews. Ultimately only one candidate is selected. More often than not, there is a chance you will experience more “nos” than “we would like to interview you,” and subsequently hire you. Furthermore once you do secure that coveted, elusive interview, and you thought the conversation was a positive one, it may go the other way.

While there is no ideal solution of managing the range of negative emotions you may feel, here are some practical tips that may benefit you during your career search and the bumps along the way. Additionally you may be coping with job rejection better than you realize.

It is natural and part of the job search process

You cannot expect to land an interview for every resume and application you send out. It is not realistic and will not be worth your while or time for every application. There will be some misses, more often than ones that stick. In life sometimes it is said to feel joy at times you may have to experience moments of sadness and sorrow. You are competing with others who share your major, your current institution or alma mater, similar academic and professional experiences, students or alumni from other institutions.

It is all right and understandable to take some rejections personally at first, but remember the company interviewing you has the right to select “the best candidate,” and only they know the criteria for that. Feeling defeated in the moment is natural, but do not let that define who you are.

Shift your perspective: Expect rejection from time-to-time

At various times, your mentality and coping methods go a long way in the persistency and wellbeing of yourself in the career search. When you have a certain expectation that the occasional rejections is “inevitable,” the job search becomes more healthy and manageable. Expectations can influence the way you apply, the way you speak with representatives during the interview, and how to deal with the ensuing emotions. Alternatively go into it with the mindset: “I have given it my all in making my resume the strongest it can be, self-advocated to the best of my ability in the interview, and displayed the most competent version of myself. I also left thank-you messages or notes. The rest is up to them.” You know yourself best, so feel free to adjust accordingly.

Learn from the experience

Regardless of the outcome, there are takeaways to be gained. In reality it could be that you did interview well, but another candidate had that extra element or facet to themselves. For improvement, it could be that you could have shared some more details on a particular experience, maybe you could have been more positive or energetic, or maybe you could have connected with the individuals slightly more. Even if the result (the job rejection) was not the ideal outcome, the interview can be assessed, analyzed and reflected upon. That in itself is connected to lifelong learning and part of being a human being.

Be open to and ask for feedback

If possible you can seek feedback from the organization that interviewed you on how to improve. With connections, ask for advice on your resume or cover letter. Consult with others – whether they are in the same industry you hope to land in, or even your friends and family members who can give you insight and perspective. Sometimes that additional insight can spark inspiration and give you motivation in the job search. Having a growth mindset – that you can learn something new and get better every day in some way – can go a long way.

Try, try again and eventually, you will succeed

Until you do receive an official confirmation that you aced the interview and have secured the full-time role, keep applying. Maintain your network and connections. Continue with your momentum of submitting applications, customized resumes and cover letters to companies. Stay in the job search by researching the ones you do get an interview at and creating a memorable impression. 

Be tenacious, have grit and faith. Eventually some organization, firm or company will call you for a phone interview, digital interview or in-person conversation. And when that “Congratulations” finally comes your way, victory and celebration can be had. The next chapter of your professional journey awaits.