Didn’t Get the Job? 9 Ways to Survive Rejection

Illustration of a panicked man sitting in front of a large laptop and rejection letter

So, you spent the last few weeks going back and forth through a series of interviews for a job opening. The position may have been your dream job, a much-needed career change or quite simply a job to pay the bills.

Whatever the case, it didn’t work out, and you didn’t get the job.


But before you drown your sorrows in a bottle of whisky or a super-sized tub of ice cream, there are a few things that will help you turn around rejection into a learning experience.

Let’s break it down to nine simple steps that will help you get over the fact you got rejected from a job and move on to the next great opportunity.

Here’s what to do when you didn’t get the job.

1. Step Away from Your Electronics

I do not say this lightly; seriously, step away from your phone, tablet and PC.

Take some time to unplug and process the experience, and don’t splatter your woes all over social media or, worse, stalk and DM the recruiter begging for answers.

With social media being as popular as it is, you never know who will see that post bashing the company for wasting your time or how it’s the end of the world because you didn’t get a job! No one likes a drama queen! If you need to vent, keep it off the web and just call a friend!

Which brings us to the next point…

2. Reach out to Your People

Everyone deals with rejection differently, but one thing remains constant: our need to share with those closest to us. So, reach out to your support system; connect and talk with them.

Not only will this help you cope with the frustration of not getting that job, but it can also lead to you gaining a new perspective on the subject. And who knows? Perhaps someone knows about another dream vacancy!

3. Shake it Off

Take some ‘me’ time and spend it doing something you enjoy! It may be a day of pampering at home or a spa, or an evening with the guys at your local bar.

Often, we’re quick to be the hardest on ourselves, lamenting about failure and not being good enough – so much so that we may forget to pat our backs and say: ‘Don’t worry. You’ll get the next one’.

Do what you need to do for you, and let the healing begin!

4. Reflect on the Process

While every opportunity and process is different from the next, take a step back and review the whole experience without those rose-coloured goggles you wore through it.

Was this really your dream job or an opportunity that looked good on paper? Were you indeed qualified for the position or were you reaching for the stars? Why did you want it so bad? Can you pick out things you might have done wrong or were unprepared for? And, finally, did you ask for the job or were you too busy tooting your own horn that you forgot to do so?

5. Respond to the Recruiter

Once you’ve taken your time to process and accept the fact that this job opportunity is now gone, reach back out to the recruiter within a few days of the rejection.

In a short and gracious email, thank them for their time and effort and for giving you the opportunity to interview with them. Keep the door open if you would like to be considered for future vacancies, and if you think it’s worth it, ask for some feedback, especially if you had progressed in length through the interviewing process.

Do not put them on the spot as to why you weren’t selected, though. Instead, ask what you can improve on to have a better chance of being hired the next time a vacancy comes along, instead of receiving the standard 'I'll keep your CV on file' email. Be mature, professional and open to constructive feedback.


6. Take Action

Welcome back to the real world – now it’s time to get ready for whatever comes next. Now is the time to change your mindset and set sails for the next destination.

You’ve reflected on the process and identified your shortcomings and areas for improvement. Perhaps you’ve decided where you want your career to take you next and maybe you even received some constructive feedback about the job rejection. Take all that and put into it practice.

Look over your CV and see how you can improve it for it to yield the right results. If you’re trying to change careers, for example, add some transferable skills that reflect your understanding in the new direction you want to embark on. Work on your gaps or weaknesses and take a class to be better prepared and knowledgeable the next time an opportunity presents itself to you in your job search.

7. Don’t Take it Personally

I won’t bore you with the usual stories about bouncing back from failure and creating something better with every rejection – like Walt Disney being fired for having no imagination, Meryl Streep being rejected for being too ugly for a part in King Kong, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone being rejected by 12 publishers or Marilyn Monroe being told to give up show business and just be a secretary.

The only thing that you need to remember is that tens and perhaps hundreds of other people probably applied for and interviewed for that same position, and tens and hundreds of them got rejected, too. It’s part of life, and once you put that into perspective, you’re already one step closer to your target.

8. Move On

Truth be told no one likes to be rejected from a job, or the feelings that come with it.

A wise person once told me that ‘no’ simply stands for ‘next opportunity’, and I’ve never looked back after that. Every time I’ve had to deal with job rejection, I found that the comeback is usually stronger than the setback and that it’s a chance to re-evaluate and adjust strategy to achieve a goal.

9. Find a Mentor

To reach a destination, you really ought to know where you want to go. The same applies to your career.

Once you decide where you want to go, find a mentor who has done exactly that, and let them guide and inspire you. There’s no faster way to a destination than someone who knows how to get there, giving you directions and rerouting you when you lose your way or focus.

Because they’ve gone through the same rocky road and have had to overcome similar obstacles and rejections, they will help you cope with whatever the route throws your way – and probably save you a job heartache or two along the way!

Overcoming rejection is never easy, and how you decide to deal with it is a very personal matter, reflecting significantly on who you are as a person and your emotional and professional maturity. Learning to cope with the correct attitude and to grow from the experience will always put you ahead in the long run.

I would love to tell you that it gets easier or that it won’t happen again, but it wouldn’t be true. Taking rejection as a motivation to mature and improve is perhaps its greatest blessing. Accept it at face value and learn to get back on your feet and get out looking for the next opportunity that will make you want to jump out of bed every morning to go to work!

Have you had to deal with being rejected from a job? How did you cope and overcome the rejection? Share your experience and advice with us in the comments section below!