How to thrive, in spite of job search rejection


When I recently canvassed job seekers, the 2 most annoying aspects about searching for a new job, was not hearing back from recruiters, followed by rejection letters.

Almost all active jobseekers (that is someone that is actively applying for a new job) will confront job search rejection. In this article, I outline how to get the ‘can-do attitude’, so you can take rejection with grace and stay motivated throughout the journey.

Rejection is part and parcel of the job search process

Nobody likes rejection, as in NOBODY. Even the most famous amongst us, have been rejected and you have to realise that this is a normal experience.

Job search rejection – welcome to normal

The fundamental truth about job-hunting, is generally it can be hard work and the majority of jobseekers will be rejected, or ignored. It can be hard to stay positive when you get another rejection letter, or don’t hear back. Yet you have to realise it is not you – it is the current flawed recruitment process that is totally broken. Until a system is developed which can effectively and quickly match employers and employees, you will continue to face job search rejection.

Getting the can-do-attitude for the job search ahead

Now that you understand that rejection and not hearing back from recruiters is ‘normal’, you can take the steps required to develop the right headspace so you can stay motivated and not give up during your job search journey. By having the right headspace, you are more likely to bounce back, take action and succeed. So to get the right can-do-attitude use the following framework:

Don’t define yourself by your job

If you define yourself by your job and or income, the greater the stress you will feel during the job search journey. If you attach less meaning to work and focus on other key roles you play, such as husband, wife, mother, father or community member, you won’t attach quite so much meaning to work and hence looking for a new job won’t be as potentially as highly charged or an emotional experience.

Reduce expectations

Having high expectations often leads to disappointment. For example, if you expect that you will waltz into a job within a matter of weeks and 4 months later you are still looking, your self-esteem will take a battering.  The reality is that our expectations come from a place of fear – fear of not getting what we want and fear of losing what we potentially have.  To keep yourself sane and strong, reduce expectations.

Expectations are planned disappointments

Reward yourself for efforts, not just results

Job-hunting is really unpredictable. Sometimes you will do everything exactly right and still not get the results you want when you want them. Reward yourself for not only the results, but also for the challenging work that leads up to the result, otherwise you might feel as though you aren’t getting anywhere. If you make ten cold calls to HR personnel, then, even if all the cold calling did not reap a positive result, reward yourself for the effort anyway.

Look where you are ultimately headed

It is very easy to give up, if you don’t have the ‘end game’ in mind, or the emotional reason why you want a new job, pay rise or promotion.  Before you get started, establish the reason behind the new job search goal. The more emotion you stir up, the more motivated you’ll be to go after the job and the less likely you will give up if things don’t go your way.

Smile, even when you don’t feel like it

Try it, because when you smile, you use different facial muscles and even your voice sounds different, including on the telephone. So, when you are in the lift making the trip to that interview on floor 10, or you are just about to make another cold call, instead of frowning, SMILE. Smiling will also have an impact on your demeanour. It is difficult to be stressed or unhappy if you are physically smiling.

Avoid negative people

Initially, those ‘pity parties’ with friends and colleagues complaining about how bad the job search is going will be cathartic. However, such negative poison will drain your time and energy and all the complaining and bemoaning about your lot won’t solve any problems, it will only make you negative. Try to avoid negative company.

Confront the down day’s head on

The day will come during your job search when you feel that you have had enough and you won’t want to deal with it all. Realise that these emotions are completely normal, but that you can still make a conscious decision about how to deal with them.

By all means, have a break from job hunting. Seek further advice, speak to an expert, use positive affirmations or rethink your job search strategy. EVERYBODY, including the rich and famous, has negative, I’ve-had enough days. The difference is how you deal with those down days.

Go on a low media diet

Information about job loss, murder, crime rates, redundancies, and robots taking over jobs is everywhere. With such news stories, it is pretty difficult to remain positive. So my suggestion is to go on a media fast. Avoid newspapers (apart from the job sections), magazines, television, radio programs and news websites altogether.

By avoiding the news, your world won’t come to an end (on the contrary, life will continue as normal), and you will have successfully put yourself on an information diet that will enhance your mood and outlook. PLUS, as a bonus, you will have loads of extra time on your hands, which can be used to find a new job!

Produce action

The best way to deal with rejection or not hearing back from recruiters is to take ongoing action.

You may have the greatest qualifications, credentials and résumé in the marketplace, but unless you get out there and put yourself in front of decision-makers, follow up with phone calls and recognise that not hearing back is part of the job-search process, then you won’t succeed. It is therefore important that you find the time to look for a job.

If you want to succeed, then you need to:

  • Commit to a job-search campaign and then schedule time to implement the campaign.
  • Stop making excuses and putting the job-search task off. If you think procrastination is the problem, rest assured it isn’t. Procrastination is always the symptom, not the problem! So, if you are procrastinating, you need to get to the root of your procrastination and resolve it.
Final Word

Looking for a new job may itself be the most difficult job you will ever have.

To get a new job successfully, you need to overcome a range of obstacles, but the largest obstacle is overcoming your emotions and fears.

Surround yourself with support, stay focused, think positively, stay healthy and remain social.  And remember that, by staying motivated and positive, you can accept rejection as a fact of life, and you will be able to regard every ‘no’ as a ‘not today’ and another step closer to success.

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