If I had to name my top two fears, they would be failure and rejection. Obviously, if I let these fears completely overtake me, I would probably miss out on some amazing experiences — in personal relationships and in my career. Still, overcoming rejection in our careers is much easier said than done. We see our jobs as a huge part of who we are, and that makes it hard not to take the rejection personally. Even if we appear to have moved on, we might still have some lingering negative thoughts and feelings. So how do we use rejection to help move us forward, rather than hold us back?
Interviewing.com recently posted an article on “What to Do When You Don’t Get the Job,” and it offers advice on overcoming interview rejection. Inc.com also recently tackled rejection for entrepreneurs with “How to Handle Rejection: 4 Tips.” Whether you were passed over for a job opportunity, had a client turn you down, or drafted a proposal that was rejected by a potential investor, I’ve gathered together five tips that will help you overcome rejection:
- Know the odds, so you won’t be too hard on yourself. Both Interviewing.com and Inc.com suggest that you be mentally prepared by knowing you’re more likely to hear “No” than “Yes.” Recognize that hundreds of people apply for jobs and grants, and you can’t win them all. Also look at the odds in your own life — you may not have succeeded in certain endeavors, but you’ve always managed to overcome them, or you wouldn’t still be standing today. Don’t be hard on yourself, and instead focus on the next step.
- Don’t take “No” personally — take it as a “No” for now. Sometimes we take “No” as a sign that we’re not good enough, smart enough, etc. But we’re the only ones telling ourselves that. “No” means that you aren’t right for this particular opportunity, not that you aren’t right for every opportunity — with this company or elsewhere. Interviewing.com Contributor Robin Rayburn put it this way: “You may never know the real reason you weren’t selected, so don’t let it keep you down and don’t use the job interview to validate your self-worth. The decision not to hire you is not based on you as a person, it’s a business decision, sometimes made in your best interest.” Just like with dating, you can’t use interviewing as a source of self-worth. You won’t hit it off with everyone, and you won’t be the perfect fit for every career opportunity.
- Learn from the experience. You don’t want to dwell, but you do want to learn something. Take another look at what tripped you up or what concerned you about the experience. Recognize what you can change for next time. It might not even be something you did during the process — it could be about who you are selecting as potential employers or clients.
- Respond with class. Always, always respond to rejection politely. Don’t post angry messages on Facebook or be short with the person breaking the news to you. Thank others for their consideration. You never know who you might cross paths with again, or if someone will need your particular skill set for a future project.
- Finally, know that you deserve the best, and that your time will come. One of my professors in grad school gave my fellow writers and me some great advice about submitting our work to publishers: You will get rejected, a lot, but eventually you will find someone whose style matches your style. So, even though this particular opportunity didn’t work out, there is someone out there who matches your style. Letting go of these less-than-perfect fits keeps you open for that perfect match. You deserve the best, so don’t give up by letting the negative get you down.