Dealing with “Rejection”


 “Do not waste yourself in rejection; do not bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Why didn’t I get that job? The interview went so great!”

“My resume is PERFECT for their job description – why haven’t they called? It’s been months!”

“I know it’s a financially based “layoff”, but it sure feels like I got fired . . . “

It is as inevitable in job searching, as it is in life, that sometimes we are going to feel unwanted, not appreciated, passed over, or flat out DISSED by some experience or person in a way that feels unfair, unjustified or just plain confusing and hurtful.

I know you know what I’m talking about. These things happen. Sure has to me, anyway.

Doesn’t it take at least SOME of the sting out of the experience to realize it’s just a part of the normal way of things?

Okay, maybe it’s only a minimal comfort, but, as many writers, actors, inventors, salespeople, daters, and other ultimately successful folks remind us, if you aren’t getting ‘rejected’ (or simply told ‘no’), you aren’t putting yourself out there, if you aren’t risking some of them not working out.

As author Lisa Alther shares, “I wrote for twelve years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn’t all that important to me.”

And many of you are familiar with the failure to success stories of many now famous people – Michael Jordan not making his high school basketball team and now acclaimed artists such as Van Gogh not selling any paintings for years and years.

But I get it, you’re not trying to be famous, nor can you wait until you die for your creative genius to be appreciated!

I used to tell teenagers I worked with: “You have to ask for what you want. You may not get it, but you definitely won’t get it if you don’t ask.”

The same is true here – you have to apply for jobs you want, which you may or may not get—but you sure won’t get offered a position you don’t apply for in the first place!

And what I’ve learned through multiple personal and professional “rejections” is this – to learn to look at all the circumstances in our lives that take a different turn than we wanted or expected and decide that something as good – or maybe even better is in store for us. That becomes our ‘silver lining’, so to speak, not only the ‘better thing that comes’, but the wisdom that comes with knowing this to be true.

It'll Happen

And, from a practical perspective on job searching and not getting jobs, or sometimes not even a response to a resume, remember the following things about perceived job search “rejection”:

  •  Sometimes it’s about who you know: You are one of many candidates and you have NO IDEA who has applied and what their qualifications are. Maybe the hired candidate is the neighbor of the company President’s brother; maybe they hired an internal candidate and the posting in the newspaper was just a legal requirement, etc.

These situations may seem unfair, until it’s your son’s friend’s mom who gets you an interview with her company, or an old boss finds out you’re looking and invites you back —see?

  •  Most final hiring decisions are about ‘fit’, not just qualifications. They are looking to balance and compliment their existing team and employees. They may already have a stellar writer or quiet, methodical organizer to keep everyone on track & what they really need is (fill in the blank with some equally admirable quality that isn’t your strong point.)

This is not anything AGAINST your qualifications or character as a person. You might fit great, but someone else may simply fit better. This happens all the time. Remember, when you do get the job, someone else is wondering why they weren’t hired, after all, the interviews went so well . . . .

  •  Companies can be mysterious and illogical sometimes . . . kinda like people. They may post a job then not follow up on interviewing candidates for months; they may decide not to fill the job right now afterall; they may decide to hire a temp for the time being, they may shovel off that job’s duties onto some overworked current employee — WHO KNOWS. (true story: a current client of mine was expected to do the job of *5* people that were laid off before him!)

All you can do is send in your customized resume and attention getting cover letter (how to’s here) . . . then LET IT GO. Continually do your best work, stay true to yourself and what you REALLY want in your life and in a job, and trust that things work out.

Write me when you are in doubt. Call a friend in your support network for a reminder as needed. And remember, as I said in Who’s Interviewing Who, you are deciding if you want THEM, too, and who wants a company that can’t see or appreciate your obviously outstanding qualities? Right? No, you want to go where you are truly wanted and valued!

Meet each seeming rejection with the attitude of:

 “Well, I guess that wasn’t the right fit for me, and something else as good or even better is coming my way.”

It is. You are ready, and when it arrives, you will truly believe that all of the above was true.