It’s hard not to take job rejections, like any other form of rejection, personally.
But separating yourself from the situation is the key to moving on after a job rejection says Erica Keswin, workplace strategist and author of “Bring Your Human to Work.” Hiring managers must look through numerous candidates at a time — assuming your résumé makes it to a human in the first place— so the tendency is to be curt when rejecting applicants.
While Keswin says companies should be as respectful to candidates as interviewees are expected to be, she recommends you don’t dwell too much on a rejection.
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“The idea of honoring relationships starts with people who don’t even work there yet,” Keswin says. “When it comes to some of these recruiters, there’s no excuse in how they are treating people, but try to keep it at arm’s length.”
Yet even with more personalized rejection notes, the sting can be painful and lead to insecurity, says Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”
“It’s one of the most disheartening things, especially when you think not only about the time and effort that goes into applying but how much emotion you’ve invested in the job,” Lynn Taylor said.
While talking about being rejected can be embarrassing, there are steps job seekers can take to make the most of a door closed. Here are Taylor and Kerwin’s best tips on getting over a job rejection.
When you first get a rejection email, take a step back and a moment to congratulate yourself for making it this far
The time immediately after getting a rejection letter can be disheartening, Taylor says, especially if it’s one you have been interviewing for. If you made it through several rounds, take the initial moments to congratulate yourself for scoring the interview in the first place, and then take a step back from your computer to go outside or distract yourself.
Rushing to crank out the next cover letter right after getting rejected can also be counterproductive, as you should wait until you are in a more positive mindset to get back into applying.
“The best way to move on is to just realize that you only need one job, and this is one of many job interview situations that are there for you,” Taylor says.
Remember that if the company did not want to hire you, you probably would not have wanted to work for them anyway.
Often times when applicants submit their résumés, they go into a “big black hole, never to be heard from again.”
If a company did not send you a personalized rejection letter, or otherwise made you feel like they did not value your time, Keswin says there is a good chance you would not have felt welcome once you got to the company.
“All of those things speak to company values and how they treat their people,” she says. “I would look in the mirror and say ‘Is that a really company I would be happy at?'”
Set up social events with close family and friends, and reach out to mentors
For those feeling particularly stung, Taylor recommends reaching out to friends or family in your inner circle who can remind you of the bigger picture. Before you hop back into the job hunt, use the first couple of days to build up your self confidence. Reaching out to mentors for feedback or support can also be helpful, Taylor adds.
Be sure to thank your interviewer the day you get a rejection
Send a thank-you email the day you get a rejection letter, as even a day later a hiring manager could be on to the next 12 candidates, Keswin says.
If you moved onto the interview phase, Keswin recommends reaching out to not just your recruiter, but the specific people who interviewed you, and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
“You had a different type of connection with all of these different people,” Keswin says. “You should try to make a personal connection in that email and say you hope to keep in touch.
If you particularly enjoyed interviewing for the company, ask your interviewer to keep you in mind for future positions
A rejection letter doesn’t have to close all doors: “Especially if it’s a company you really thought you were interested in, you always want to leave things in a positive way to leave the door open,” Keswin says.
Sometimes, when a new manager comes in and needs to hire, companies keep a record of former applicants they liked so they can fill open positions. Other times, companies will reject applicants for a full-time position, but offer them contractual work, Taylor says. Maintaining a connection with your interviewer could lead to a job down the line.
You can ask for feedback on why the hiring manager didn’t go forward — but be cautious
The best way to know why you didn’t get a job is to ask, Keswin says. As you send a thank-you note to interviewers, she suggests saying sorry it didn’t work out, but if they had any specific feedback, you would love to hear it.
Taylor, however, says that this approach could backfire. Managers often don’t have time to give detailed feedback to each rejected candidate, and asking them to take time out of their day for you could feel burdensome. “There’s a 60/40 chance you’re irritating them more than anything else,” Taylor says.
If you received a few rejections in a row, take the time to analyze what could be missing in your resume
Many times people apply to several jobs during the interview stage. If multiple of your applications come out unsuccessful, you might need to examine your skills more critically, Keswin says.
“I would urge people to really be honest with themselves to do a post-mortem analysis on what the issue was,” she adds.
The first step is to figure out whether your rejections stem from missing skills or not being a culture fit. In the case of skills, it could be as simple as taking an online class and learning something new for your résumé.
If you have the means, hiring a career coach could help you figure out what isn’t working
If the reasons why you got rejected were because of not being a cultural fit, or if they were unclear, seeking professional help could go a long way, Keswin says. As a career coach at NYU, she helped qualified candidates during the financial crisis figure out which of their skills were transferable, then she targeted jobs that could use those skills.
A career coach helped Business Insider reporter Shana Lebowitz feel more empowered, and she learned how to make a roadmap to reach her goals. Career coaches can be expensive, however, so Keswin also recommends reaching out to university alumni networks first to get the same type of support without paying a fee.
When you get back into job searching, try being more flexible with what you’d consider applying to
If at first, you were uncomfortable relocating or transferring your skills to other industries, the time following a rejection could be a chance to widen your horizons, Taylor says.
“Especially if you’re willing to be flexible on the exact job description, widen your scope just a little bit,” she says. “That may help your mindset.”
If you’re currently employed, taking on another project at work could bulk up your résumé
Taking on a new job could mean sacrificing the flexibility you earned through years of working at your current job, Keswin says. One way to get over a rejection is to focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t.
You can also build skills for when you do try to seek greener pastures: Take on a new project at your current job, or focus on growing your side hustle.
“If you realize the job search may be taking longer than you’d like, ask what are some positives you can focus on in other aspects of your life,” Keswin says.
After you build up your skills, don’t be afraid to try again at your dream company
If a hiring manager tells you that you were a good candidate, but they found a “rock star,” and they offer to keep in touch, don’t take that information lightly, Keswin says. If you can figure out the skills you may be missing, you could try reaching out to similar positions at the company down the road. “It shows you’re really interested in the company,” she says.
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