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How to Handle Job Rejection Letdown

Mateo Sánchez Morales

A woman holding her phone looks off into the distance of a modern-looking city.
By leszekglasner

It takes a lot of time, patience, and courage to submit a job application, especially for a job you’re really excited about. But what happens when you receive a call or email from the job you thought you had secured only to find out they've decided to pursue other candidates? Know you’re not alone and try these steps to move past the rejection. 

Putting your rejection into context

It is quite normal to feel defeated and even discouraged when you realize you didn’t get a job you really wanted.

Most successful people have faced disappointment in their lives, and it's a strength to remember that it's rarely a reflection on you, your skills, or prior work experience. In fact, there are myriad other factors why the organization might have gone another way. This unfortunate experience may actually be setting you for a better opportunity in the future.

Boosting your self esteem

It is important that you channel the inner you that was confident enough to apply to the job in the first place; that person is still there! Just because you experience a minor setback doesn’t mean your good qualities have gone away. 

Sometimes when you don’t land a job, and especially if you can’t explain why, you may begin to wonder whether you are good enough. A practical way to counteract these thoughts is to keep a running list of your positive qualities by writing down or mentally replaying past accomplishments. Think about times when you felt confident and try to verbalize things about yourself that make you feel proud. You’ve succeeded in the past and, realistically, that means you will succeed again. 

Getting feedback

If you're not selected for the role, reach out to the hiring manager for further insight into their decision. Of course, there is a right and a wrong way to go about this, so take a look at our template before hitting send.

If you don't feel comfortable requesting for feedback from the hiring manager, ask a friends or trusted colleague to look at your resume and cover letter prior to applying to a new opportunity, and of course, set aside some time to rehearse common interview questions. This offers you a chance to welcome helpful critiques and ideas to improve your materials and your go-to responses for some common interview questions.

Making adjustments to keep going

Remember that encountering disappointment is a normal step on the path to success. In fact, facing adversity actually helps build resilience; a good skill to practice and will take you far in your career. 

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. The average job seeker is rejected 24 times before they hear a "yes." So, you can do everything right, and you may still have to face situations that feel unfortunate. But even though it may not get easier emotionally to get that call or email, you will find that with practice, you will feel more prepared to respond the next time you find yourself asking, "I didn’t get the job... now what?" 

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Mateo Sánchez Morales

Mateo Sánchez Morales is a bilingual writer and community organizer. With a history of immigration advocacy within nonprofits, they use their own identities and experiences to guide people from nontraditional backgrounds in the academic and professional realms.

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