After any job rejection, whether it is the first or the hundredth time you have read or heard those blunt but velvet-clad words, it is natural to react. You may feel angry, you may be in denial, you may feel low and depressed – all are perfectly natural, understandable responses, and part of the change curve we all experience when anything in life, for better or worse, changes.
Understanding the change curve is the first way you can make sure you bounce back after rejection from a job you aspired to. The initial feelings of anger and denial may be short-lived, in most cases, but they progress to a sense of resignation, which can be a dangerous low, both emotionally and in terms of motivation and action. If you wish to bounce back, keeping this period to a minimum is important before moving to acceptance and commitment to a new goal, and a way of moving forward stronger than ever.
If you’re struggling with a rejection and looking for ways to move on, here are some ideas.
1. Remember – it’s not personal
It’s hard to hear, but do remember that it wasn’t, really, you that was rejected. There are many different reasons an application might not make it through sifting, or an interview might not result in an offer. If you really want to know what the reason was in your case, ask for feedback, but whatever you do, don’t attach blame – to yourself or anyone else – for the rejection.
2. Don’t let yourself wallow
Giving yourself time to grieve is an essential part of the change curve – come through the anger and denial stages, with some time to come to terms with the lost opportunity – but resist the urge to wallow as this can all too easily turn into apathy, depression and other more serious issues. The worry is that if rejection becomes a major fear in your mind, then you will be unwilling to push yourself again into situations in which rejection is a potential outcome – dangerous if you’re serious about your career.
3. Let off steam
One of the best ways to avoid wallowing is to let off a little steam. Grab a friend or family member, and have a good moan – keep it verbal, though, and don’t think about putting your grievances onto social media. Future employers may well see them and think your reaction petty or vindictive – not a good look for a potential new team member! Having done this, think about how you can reframe your rejection – what did you learn, how did it make you stronger, better, more capable – imagine telling the story in answer to an interview question, and think of the positives and learnings you can draw from the experience.
4. Set yourself a new challenge
The single most important part of bouncing back after rejection is the stage in the change curve where you move from resignation to acceptance, and then on to commitment. Committing to a new goal is the final stage of riding the curve, and shows you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things.
In the case of job rejection, this stage should include a period of reflection and possible refocus – did your feedback tell you anything new, and if so, do you value the new insight? Does it tell you to just keep on keeping on or to try a slightly different course? Should you be targeting a different job area, do you need to practise your interview skills or tweak your CV?
Spend some time considering what your next move should be, but then throw yourself wholeheartedly into achieving it, to make sure you bounce back higher than ever from your job rejection.