Chances are, if you’ve spent any time searching for a job, you’ve opened a letter or received a phone call sounding a lot like this:
"We appreciate you applying for a position with our company. We interviewed several outstanding applicants for this position and have chosen to hire another individual with qualifications and ideas that are better suited for our company’s needs..."
Whether the rejection came in the form of words like these or no response at all from an employer, job rejection usually feels the same way – awfully frustrating. It can be even more difficult to swallow when a candidate really wanted the job or was certain an offer was in the bag. So what’s a jobseeker to do when they hear the dreaded phrase, "We’ve hired somebody else"?
The first step is to realize that you are not the only one dealing with rejection. In fact, you’re probably one of dozens of candidates who applied for the job, but didn’t get it for one reason or another. Consider the 25,000 people who applied for only 325 available jobs at a Wal-Mart opening in the Chicago area last January. Certainly in situations like that, the odds of landing a job are not stacked in the jobseekers’ favor. "Rejection is a normal part of the job search process and you cannot allow it to deflate your ego. In many instances, the reason for not getting an offer will have nothing to do with you. It may be that the company promoted an internal candidate, changed its business model and eliminated the position, hired the president’s grandson, or whatever – all of which had nothing to do with your competence and expertise," say Wendy Enelow and Shelly Goldman, authors of Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job (JIST, 2005).
Based on their interviews with some of America’s top employers and recruiters, Enelow and Goldman suggest several ways jobseekers can beat the blues when dealing with rejection during a job search. The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job makes the following six recommendations to help jobseekers stay positive and productive from the moment they receive their first rejection until they finally land a job.
Understand that rejection happens. Thousands of jobseekers face rejection every day, whether it’s through a letter, unreturned phone call, or their resume being trashed. In many cases, this has little to do with the jobseeker, but a lot to do with the specifications and intentions of the company that is doing the hiring. It’s important to avoid taking the rejection personally. Instead, you should reflect on how you could have been a stronger candidate for the job and take the steps necessary to do so.
Build a support network. When dealing with rejection, jobseekers are often disappointed and embarrassed. Many want to withdraw from family, friends or even their job search as a result. Instead of crawling into a shell and isolating themselves, jobseekers should find ways to boost their self-esteem. An effective way to accomplish this is through the support of a network made up of family, friends, networking groups, or career advisors.
Take assessments. Often, jobseekers pursue positions that are not compatible with their interests and abilities, for the sake of simply landing a job as soon as possible. This can lead to being turned down for many jobs, because the job avenues pursued are not well matched to the individual’s interests and qualifications.
Several resources, such as quiz-like assessments, offer jobseekers the opportunity to learn more about how their talents, hobbies and interests align with particular occupations. Some assessments even measure how much a person knows about effective job searching and interviewing.
At the very least, jobseekers would be wise to make lists of things they liked and did not like about previous jobs and take those items into consideration when focusing their job search.
Get feedback. The most effective jobseekers spend time getting a second opinion – even a third or fourth – on their resumes, cover letters, interview responses, and other aspects of their job search. Hearing the criticisms, suggestions and general impressions of someone else gives jobseekers an idea of how employers might perceive them. Outside opinions can also help identify why a certain strategy may not be working and what adjustments are needed.
Send a handwritten note. Just because you didn’t receive a job offer after an interview, doesn’t mean you should sever ties with the company or organization altogether. Jobseekers who are not hired by a company that they really wanted to work for should follow up with a handwritten note acknowledging that although they did not get the job, they are still very interested in the company and would appreciate being considered for future opportunities.
Follow up with the company. From time to time, check back with the company to see if any new opportunities have arisen. Often, job opportunities within a company or organization are known internally well before they are ever made public. Checking in with a company not only gives you a chance to learn about recent openings, it reminds employers that you are still interested and keeps you on their radar screen.
Dealing with job rejection isn’t easy, but it is part of the search. "In today’s market, job searching is competitive and might take some time. The more realistic you are about this, the better prepared you will be to effectively manage your search," advise Enelow and Goldman.
If you expect to get an interview every time you send a resume, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s better to be realistic and understand that your job search might require 50 resumes or 500. No matter how many, the opportunities are out there and you will find your ideal job.