Finding a new job is hard. Unless you’re a lucky one who sails through the process with supernatural grace, the hours devoted to altering résumés, writing cover letters, interview prep, waiting, controlling nerves, and presenting yourself to strangers takes a lot of effort.
When all the meetings of prepared statements, probing questions, and lengthy assessments end in rejection, it knocks your confidence.
In a buyer’s market, you, the seller of your abilities, have less sway over a hiring manager’s decisions than in a "talent shortage".
However, there are basic things you can do to protect yourself from feelings of disappointment over a rejection email.
TALK HONESTLY WITH YOUR RECRUITER AND ASK FOR FEEDBACK
If you’re working with a recruiter (hello), reach out to them!
We have communication channels to companies that you as an applicant generally won’t.
It isn’t always the case that we’re able to provide feedback, but when we can, you can rest assured that we’ll help you use it to polish up your interviewing ability or help you understand why you were unlucky this time.
Without a recruiter, you can write a polite response to a rejection email with a brief request for feedback. Something along the lines of “Is there something you felt I could do better to be a stronger candidate in the future?” should do the trick. There’s a chance they won’t reply, but if they do, be sure to express gratitude. Doing so also helps keep the door open in the future.
REMIND YOURSELF THAT DREAM JOBS DO NOT EXIST
When you’re in the running for a position that you love, it’s easy to succumb to the voice inside telling you that this is the job.
The problem with this is that work can easily morph into something monotonous depending on organizational changes, or you might find that your colleagues don’t share your enthusiasm.
Unless you find the rare interviewer who’s entirely upfront about a job and themselves, it’s impossible to know if that job you idealize is all it’s hyped up to be.
Even though it’s a buyer’s market, companies will sell themselves to you, too. Remember that.
KEEP FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS
Sending more applications when in the interview stage increases the chances that you’ll be invited to interview for another position, and, should you be rejected from a job, gives you a reason to be hopeful.
Job searching can be a humbling experience.
The most effective counter to this bitter aspect of it is hope. And the practical way to keep hope alive after a rejection is to have your résumé in the inbox of ten or twenty potential new bosses.
GIVE YOURSELF A DAY OR TWO TO REST
Rejection’s sting sometimes has the odd effect of spurring people to action.
If you’re the type to feel energized by rejection, you may still find this advice useful although less relevant to you.
Taking the time to rest and distract yourself with a good book, Netflix series, or physical activity refocuses your attention.
Diving back into writing email introductions or editing portfolios after receiving a rejection email increases the likelihood that you’ll make an editorial mistake or miss capturing the tone you really want to project.
Our recruiters say rest, recoup, and never feel guilty for it. You're doing your future self a favor.
YOU WILL GET BETTER AT THIS WITH TIME
If rejection doesn't come in the form of a personalized email, it might come in the form of an automated one or even silence.
The reality is that you have very little control in these situations.
The needs or resources of a team can change on a dime, another candidate might be stronger in X skill while you’re stronger in Y skill, or a hiring manager could just feel that their personality clicks better with another candidate (purely subjective).
Don’t get attached to the idea of a job, keep sending out applications, recognize your time is precious, too, and keep your chin up.
Like interviewing, you gradually get better at and become more resilient at rejection. And the more comfortable you become, the more confident you will feel in each stage of finding a new job.
We’re here to help!