Leveraging Job Rejection as a Catalyst for Growth

By Erin Kennedy

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Job rejection

Job rejection isn’t pleasant! Nobody likes to hear they weren’t chosen. It brings back those memories from gym class, being the last one standing when it comes to choosing teams. It stings and causes us to consider our value and self-worth. However, if we allow it, we can choose to use the rejection as a chance to learn about ourselves, and even motivate us as we move forward toward our next opportunity.


So here are some things to keep in mind the next time you are passed over for a job:


Ask for Feedback

Talk to the hiring manager, asking what you could do to improve your chances in the future. You may find some that are more than willing to give you some pointers, especially if they feel you were a viable candidate but simply lost out to someone more qualified. You can even ask them if there are other positions within the company that might be a better fit for you. If there aren’t open positions, be sure to let them know you are interested in working for them. Perseverance may pay off down the road.


Talk to Family & Friends

Don’t be shy about discussing your job search efforts, including a rejection, with those closest to you. They have your best interests at heart, and they know you, and can often provide valuable intel to guide and steer you in the right direction. The more people know you are job searching, the more interview tips or even job leads you may receive.


Interview Post-mortem

After each interview, evaluate your performance. Think through what went well and what didn’t. What could you have done differently? It could be body language, such as not making eye contact or nervous stuttering. Maybe you weren’t prepared to answer some questions they asked. Did you vent your frustrations about your current or past employer? Were you dressed appropriately for the work environment? Whatever it is, think through how you will address those situations in your next interview.


Never Burn Bridges

No matter how badly you wanted the job or felt you deserved it, don’t react by writing a harshly worded email or make a phone call bashing the employer for rejecting you. Also, don’t post negative comments about the company or interview on your social media accounts. You never know who will be reading them. You don’t know where you career will be in 5-10 years, but burning a bridge lasts forever. Always be respectful, thanking them for the opportunity.


Evaluate Necessary Changes

After you’ve received feedback and analyzed the interview, review what you’ve heard and decide what steps need to be taken to move forward. Maybe your resume needs to be tweaked or you need interview coaching. Is your LinkedIn profile updated with all your latest information? Have you engaged your network in your job search strategy? It’s ok to take a day to process everything but don’t sit in the rejection. Leverage the information to stimulate growth in your job search plan.


Dealing with job rejection can be tough, but it doesn’t need to paralyze you. See it as a way to learn about yourself, and use the information to accelerate growth and help you move forward in your job search and find the ideal fit for you.


Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, named one of Forbes "Top 100 Career Websites". Considered an influencer, she is consistently listed as a “Top Career Expert to Follow” on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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