How to Accept Rejection with Grace and Dignity (That You Don't Have)

(Note from Janice – Featuring the job seeker perspective enables us to realize that in the struggle, we are not alone.)

If you’re anything like me at this point, you’ve sent in your resume to seemingly hundreds of thousands of employers across the world. You’ve submitted them electronically, in mail, in person, and even called a couple of toll-free numbers to try and get your message across. You’ve done everything that is reasonably expected of one man to do. Finally, one of those resumes works for you – and you get a call for an interview. Now imagine you do everything right: your best suit is dry cleaned and ready to go, you are 10 minutes early with resumes in hand, and you are confident in what you can offer to the company. You answer their questions professionally, establishing yourself as a leader in your field. That job is practically yours, and in your head you’ve already engraved your nameplate on the desk.

One week passes by, and you hear nothing from them. 10 days pass, and there’s no word from your new employer. Only after two weeks pass do you get notice: “Thank you for your interest, but we have decided to go with a different candidate” (or something along those lines). After all that hard work and preparation, you’ve been reduced to another name in the circular file.

Believe it or not (as I have survived many of these before), there are healthy ways to deal with continual rejection. First off, breathe: you’re not the only candidate that was turned down for this position – and you certainly won’t be the last. For every one hire that company makes, several people will be thoroughly disappointed when they find out that, they too, are still without a job. The difference with you is that the company acknowledged your talents and skills, but you didn’t fit what they needed. It’s not that you’re under- or over-qualified, or are not hirable in your industry – you just work differently than what they need. In the immortal words of George Castanza: “Its not you…it’s (them).”

If this was your dream job, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for feedback. If this is somewhere you really wanted to work, and make a living and career at, there is no shame in calling back and asking why it didn’t work out. By finding out how your performance was (and how it can be improved for the next time), you will be better position yourself for the next dream job that comes your way…or even another opening at that company.

Finally, don’t give up. It is going to hurt now – but if it didn’t hurt, then it would mean nothing to you, and would have been a flippant job you wouldn’t have wanted in the best of circumstances. Remember that you are completely qualified and competent in your field – and job seekers have encountered the perfect storm: a bad economy, combined with an abundance of job seekers in our respective fields. Remember: hard rain doesn’t last, and the only way you will keep competitive is if you keep trying over and over again. Believe in yourself, and you will be surprised what you will be able to achieve.

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