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How to Turn Rejection into Success When You’re on the Job Hunt


A few years ago a close friend of mine (we’ll call her Hayley) came to me one day in tears:

“I didn’t get it,” she wailed.

She was talking, of course, about the dream job interview, the pinnacle of her career, the chance-of-a-lifetime that she’d lost sleep over only the night before.

“Ok,” I said,“ So why didn’t they give it to you?” She stared at me in disbelief, clearly expecting me to embrace her and let her pour out her heart and frustrations, speculating who had got it over her.

After a moments’ silence she started to think.

You see, Hayley is your archetypal overachiever — always has been. She aced high school and college, whilst participating in all the extra-curricular activities that make your résumé “great” to future employees. If Hayley auditioned for the school choir, she got in. If she ran for president of a society, she got it.

Hayley was so good at life, she never lost. And thus, Hayley was bad at failing because she had never had to… Sound familiar?

So you’ve overcome the tough job hunt and got an interview – but no offer. What’s next? Here are a few things to consider when life gives you that red card.

1. Learn from your experience.

This may sound obvious, but I see so many clients who come out of an interview and want to forget all about it entirely. I’ve seen a lot of anger and frustration that has been triggered by their feelings of rejection… Enough with the pity party. This kind of denial is a common way I’ve seen job seekers cope with stressful situations – as they’re essentially protecting ourselves from even the memory of it.

When you come out of an interview, don’t bury your head in that proverbial sand.

Write down everything they asked you, and reflect on how you answered the questions. Are you happy with the answers? Your post-interview feelings can be an advantage. In fact, short-term stress temporarily boosts our memory and motivates us to succeed. So use it. If you get the dreaded “no” phone call, this will be your bible in figuring out why.

2. Send a follow-up note.

I know, I know, I’ve banged on about this before. But it is so important to send a thank you note. It’s not old fashioned, and it doesn’t matter if you secretly hate the person who called to tell you “no.” Show your gratitude for their time and affirm your interest both in the role and company, letting them know you’d love to stay in touch. You could have been their second choice candidate, and you never know how quickly another role will become vacant. Make sure you are the first person that comes to their minds when it does.

3. Decide whether the job really was for you.

Is this actually your dream job? If so, great. But use a rejection to re-evaluate where you are in your career and whether this is the right step for you. Take each rejection as an opportunity to focus on you.

In my humble opinion as a career coach to thousands of millennials, I always see “rejection” as the universe simply course correcting you. Perhaps it’s just feedback the job wasn’t for you. After all, if it was for you, you’d have landed it, no?

If you need to hone your skill set in order to get that job next time around, then do so. If you went for the job because it’s the next ‘logical’ step in your current career, or because you’re bored in your current role, or because your boyfriend/friend/dentist told you to go for promotion — maybe it’s time to reconsider.


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