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Dealing with Job Search Rejection when You're Hunting for Work

Dealing with Job Search Rejection when You're Hunting for Work

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By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Career Tips

Going through the job interview process is like a roller-coaster ride at times. There’s the excitement of being asked to show up in person for an interview, the anxious rehearsing of what you’ll discuss with your potential employer and the nerve-wracking experience of the interview. Then, there’s the protracted wait for news from your interviewer and the inevitable letdown when you receive that “Sorry, we went with another candidate” e-mail.

It’s hard not to take the sting of rejection personally and obsess over what you did wrong. You think, “Oh, if only I had said that!” or “I could have phrased that answer in a better way.” But even though job search rejection is painful, there are ways to cope with it.

Rejection from an Employer Could Have Nothing to Do with You

Even though job search rejection feels very personal, the reason why you weren’t hired may have nothing to do with how you performed during the interview. Perhaps the company decided to hire an internal candidate or the funding to hire a new employee disappeared. Another possibility is that another candidate had more experience in a different area or had a particular skill that your interviewer thought would be useful for the organization.

Dr. Marie Gould Harper, Program Director of the School of Business, notes that there are other reasons why candidates may be rejected from a position, including:

  • A person’s attire or a similar appearance issue would be offensive to the company’s client base.
  • A person’s appearance or pedigree does not match up to the decision maker’s standards.
  • Even though a candidate has a degree, the decision maker does not value it due to the type of school the degree came from.

There are many reasons why even perfectly prepared candidates are rejected from certain job positions. Unfortunately, most employers won’t give feedback on your interview due to liability concerns. Many times, the interviewer stops communicating with you entirely after the interview, a practice known as “ghosting.”

Use the Interview as an Educational Experience

Job interviews, however, are a good learning experience. If you are unused to discussing yourself and your career accomplishments, an interview is an excellent way to practice your oral communication skills.

Interviews also provide insight about how interviewers regard you. For instance, if several interviewers ask you whether or not you have certain software skills, that could be a sign for you to learn those skills since they are in demand.

Talk with a Trusted Friend or Family Member for Insights

Venting about being rejected from a job can be therapeutic. Find a quiet place and talk over the interview with a trusted friend or family member, who can put your experience into perspective and make you feel better.

Keep the Job Search Momentum Going and Take a Short Break if Needed

It is easy to become disheartened when you deal with constant rejection from potential employers, especially if your job search drags on for months or even years. If necessary, take a break from job hunting — for a few hours or even an entire day — in order to relax.

It’s important not to give up on your job search. Make sure that you tailor your resume to your potential employer, do mock interviews and customize your interview conversations to show why you’re the best candidate for the job.

Dr. Gould Harper says, “If you are rejected from a position, it does not mean that you were not qualified for the job. Instead of focusing on how you are going to showcase your skill set, consider preparing for the interview from the perspective of the hiring manager.

“For example, when I interview candidates, 90% of the time I have candidates ask me what do I consider the ideal employee. My response has always been, “It depends.” I’m not looking for a superstar. I’m looking for someone who can (1) fit into my current team and (2) get the job done. Consider asking the hiring manager about their current team, so you can address how you would be the perfect fit to complement what is already in place.”



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