The first thing to plant firmly in your brain is that it’s OK. Rejection happens to everyone, and for all sorts of reasons, justified or not.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from her TV news reporter job because she wasn’t “suitable for TV.”
- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was rejected by 12 publishers before she made it big.
- Walt Disney lost his first job at a newspaper because the editor thought he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
The key takeaway is not only that you have plenty of excellent company, but that you don’t give up. Rather, you use the rejection experience to become a success.
- Bill Gates’ first business, Traf-O-Data, failed. His next try was Microsoft.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He said, “I have failed over and over in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Here’s how to turn your rejection experience into a learning opportunity.
Focus on Areas of Improvement
It’s possible that, like the examples above, the prospective employer didn’t see your true potential. The question is, why didn’t they? Reach out to the interviewer and ask politely what you could have done differently to make a better impression.
Revise Your Interview Prep Strategy
Maybe you didn’t handle the interview well — either from nervousness or lack of preparation. In either case, you have the power to do better next time. You’ll be less nervous, having been through it before. And you’ll know what questions you’re likely to be asked, so you can prepare answers in advance.
Upgrade Your Resume
If you didn’t even get as far as an interview, the fault may be in your resume. The best resumes are:
- Neatly organized for easy reading
- Customized for each job application with relevant job experience, skills and keywords to get past electronic screening
- Complete with all information asked for
- Free of spelling/grammar mistakes
Refine Your Application Submissions
And finally, you simply may not be qualified for that particular job. The employer may be looking for a specific skill, educational certificate or character trait that you don’t have. There’s nothing to feel bad about in that — as they say, no lid fits every pot.
Sending out applications to every job opening that’s available accomplishes nothing except to waste both your own and the hiring manager’s time. Read job descriptions thoroughly and submit applications only to the ones where you know you’ll be a happy fit.
It’s so easy to fall into the “why even try” mentality after being rejected. But as we saw in the celebrity examples above, your next try could lead to greater success than you ever imagined (or even just a great job).
Take a day or two to recover from the emotional jolt. Then use the action plan above to get back into the game, and show the world your new, improved job hunting skills!