Overcoming Rejection on the Job Hunt

“I just don’t understand why I’m not getting picked!” she said. “I’ve got the skills. The interviewer liked me. I liked her.  She even told me I was a top candidate.  What am I doing wrong?”

As a career strategist who has helped hundreds of professionals find more meaningful careers and land jobs Handshakethat are the right fit for them I had heard this from potential clients before and I’ve been there too.  I remember being told by a hiring manager that she thought I was a good fit.  That she was done with interviewing and she’d be back in touch soon.

I was so sure I got the job that day I took myself out for a celebratory dinner.  It had been a long time coming. What I saw as an offer had come after many months of interviews, sending out applications, networking and “wearing out my shoe leather” on Capitol Hill. I had pursued every lead that came to me.  I was elated that after all the effort and the many interviews I’d been on, I’d finally found the job and the place I was supposed to be.

Alas, my excitement was premature because the formal job offer never came.  A few days later I followed up.  I didn’t receive a return call.  The hiring manager wouldn’t take my calls. HR wasn’t at all helpful.  In fact, they were really good at stringing me along by telling me they’d be in touch shortly.  “Shortly” turned into two months and still nothing.  Then I heard from a friend that someone was hired and started two weeks after my interview.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was crushed!  If you’ve ever been there, you know what that kind of rejection feels like too.

But inside a month I was hired.  It was because I used my rejection experience and what I learned from it to turn my situation around and to start doing things differently.  Here’s how:

Up Your Inner Game. I realized I had to get over my feelings of rejection and anger or they would come through in future interviews.  I got my feelings out by writing in my journal and doing a lot of walking.  I decided I had to take responsibility for my disappointment caused by jumping to conclusions and celebrating before I got a formal job offer. I also realized that I had to become stronger, grow a tougher skin, and be more strategic if I was going to be successful in my job search.

It’s Not YOU.  If it seemed like they liked you they probably did.  A rejection for a job doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with who you are as a person.  How could they know the real you after 40 minutes of asking predetermined questions they also had to ask a lot of other applicants?  I stopped basing my impressions of how well I did on whether I thought I was liked or not.

Be In Control of Your Destiny.  I decided I was going to take control of my job search and my career. I was done with being the interviewee desperate for someone to like me and to hire me.  I became an interviewer myself and I started being the one who was doing the liking, or not.  Thus began the real search … one where I asked a lot of questions to find out if the job was the right one for me.

You Never Know What’s Happening Behind the Scenes.  I discovered through a friend that the employer I thought was going to hire me had some requirements that I wasn’t even aware of.  You really never know what’s going on behind the scenes when you interview for a position. Companies may have all kinds of criteria they are trying to meet with a new hire. They may be looking for a personality type or style for a good fit with a team or boss. Dynamics are at play that you’re never going to know about until you get on the job. (And, sometimes you wish you knew those dynamics before you accepted the offer!)

The bottom line is, if you aren’t hired for some unknown reason you probably dodged a bullet and are fortunate that you didn’t end up there. As Tony Robbins explains in “Career Curveballs:  God’s Delays are Not God’s Denials” you may discover that your perceived rejection was a blessing.  It may set you up for a completely different path or experience that hasn’t been fully revealed to you yet, but just may be your best career move yet!  So, hang in there!

Your comments are welcome!