Accepting a job rejection with grace

Feelings are a very primitive and powerful part of the human condition. Among those emotions are fear and anxiety, which are among the most common, but least understood. During the job search, rejection is a natural part of finding your next great opportunity. The ego is a powerful part of our being. We can become quick to feel upset or despondent after finding out we did not receive the job. This is one of the negative externalities of putting yourself out there. No one is immune from rejection. Job rejection can lead to feelings of fear and anxiety. The ability to handle rejection with grace will set you apart from the competition.

Here are some tips to moving on after you find out you didn’t get the job:

1. Try not to take it personally

The job market is tough, even when unemployment is low, as it is currently. Resilience is going to be key when you are applying for jobs. The job search is truly a process that can take multiple weeks. It’s not uncommon to have multiple interviews with multiple parties, including potential co-workers, Human Resources and the hiring manager. It can be frustrating to go through multiple weeks for one position only to end up not getting a job offer. That being said, it does you no good to delay applying for other jobs, because you didn’t get the last offer.

2. Meta-Cognition

The concept of metacognition is essentially “thinking about thinking. “ It involves taking the time to reflect upon your interviews and job search. Take the time to identify ways to improve your interviewing skills. Ask yourself, “Did I mishandle any questions during the interview?” and “Am I applying for the right level of jobs? Take time to discuss your process with a mentor or advisor, preferably one in your industry.

3. Ask for Feedback

I would recommend following up with the employer and getting feedback on your interview. If possible, find out what characteristics differentiated you from the selected individual. It could be a specific skill or an education gap in your resume. By asking for feedback you can help strengthen your job search skills.

Sometimes the job goes to an internal candidate. For example, I applied for a job at the Principal Financial Group several years ago. I did not receive the job, but a few months later I received a call from the Human Resources representative at Principal. They stated that they had really liked me the first round, but ended up giving the job to an internal candidate. That person was more of a known variable than I was at the time. The hiring manager kept my resume on file and six months later they offered me a job. You never know when you might get a call from a company that had previously rejected you. It’s important to not burn any bridges in the process.

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