How to Deal with Job Rejection

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I know, I know. It sounds like I’m beating a dead horse here, but just run with me for a sec, mmm’kay? If you’re in the job market like yours truly is, then you’ve probably come in for more than your fair share of crap. You’re probably wondering how to deal with job rejection, right?

Or more like, how to deal with CONSTANT rejection from jobs?!

I know I have. 9 months’ worth of it, to be exact, with no end in sight from where I stand. Truth be told, I’m so beyond over this crap, it’s not even in the same area code anymore.

I’ve been down this road before, so this isn’t anything new. The only difference was that last time, this happened long before a computer and the Internet came to my house. Last time, my job search was in-person, 7 days a week, 8-15 hours a day for months on end.

It wasn’t long before I grew to hate the companies I applied at, only to get strung along, ghosted, rejected, mistreated, hit on, mocked, and ridiculed in return. All true stories, and I held the biggest grudge against all of them for a long time afterward.

Truth be told, I still hold a grudge against them. Over the years, my grudge against the companies dwindled to only the ones where I got the worst of the egregious and/or deviant behavior from the hiring managers and interviewers I dealt with at the time.

Most of those companies don’t even exist anymore, and if that was the way they were gonna do people, then they didn’t need to be in business.

You’re looking for a new job, or another job, or looking to get into the workforce for the first time, and you put in the applications. As you move forward in your job search, you start seeing rejection after another, so on and so forth.

You may get callbacks, but they go nowhere, and you never hear from them again. Their job ad’s still up, though.

You may get a callback, get the interview, only to be called back for multiple additional interviews, and the company drags it out for months on end, when it’s not in an industry that even remotely justifies that long of a wait time. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve heard of it.

Or worse: you may get an interview, only for the interviewer or hiring manager to mistreat you. Also a true story, which I’ve talked about here before.

After months of this, it starts to get to you. I know it is for me. It’s destroying me, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

This leaves us with one question: how does anyone deal with job rejection?! Whether the job application you put in was a sure thing where your skills matched, or whether it was a total gamble, it still sucks.

First, honor your feelings. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s totally valid, and understandable. You’re the one who went to all that trouble, and you took time out of your life to put your name in the hat at their company. You did everything they asked of you in the application (and then some), you sent them mounds of sample work you’ve done, you responded to any and all communications from them with urgency, and you were nothing but professional and respectful toward them.

If they called you in for an in-person interview, you put your life on hold to travel to their location, whether it was by bus, foot, bike, skateboard, Uber, or car of your own. Some of that costs money, so depending on your means of getting to the site, you’re not only out time, you’re also out money.

If the interviewer was respectful and professional, that’s great. It doesn’t make the burn of their rejection any easier, though. It’s a difficult place to be, and I personally wouldn’t envy them for a second.

On the other hand, if their behavior was disrespectful (or worse, abusive and illegal!), I’m truly sorry for what they’ve done to you. You deserved better out of them, and what happened to you adds a whole other layer to the shitstorm of feelings you’re probably dealing with right now.

In that case, you’ve got every right to end the interview right there. Maybe say something like, “thanks for your time. I can already tell this job opportunity will not be a fit for me. I’ll see myself out.”

I guarantee you, if it comes that easy for them to mistreat you in the interview, that means this is typical for them, and if they’re still there, the company’s fine with it. You wouldn’t wanna work for a company that condones this kind of shyt from their employees.

On that note, if they’re gonna do you like that, when you’re not even an employee there, then think about what goes on behind closed doors in that company. Consider this a bullet dodged, and their choice to reject your application as a blessing.

Either way, you went to all that trouble and did everything they asked of you, so you’ve totally got the right to be angry and upset with them. If this is a company that puts out products and other services, you definitely have the option of boycotting them for however long you decide on, too. (On a more personal note, my list of companies to boycott is growing like crazy as a result of my job search.)

Second, realize that this was ONE job. ONE opportunity, out of many out there right now, and ONE out of many more to come. This job application didn’t work out for whatever reason, and honestly, any reason from them is irrelevant at this point. All that matters right now is their ‘no’ to the application you worked so hard on, the interviews you completed with them (assuming you got to that point with their hiring process), and the time you’re out as a result.

If this was a company you had dreams of working at for the longest time, then on some level, you’re sort of grieving in a way. If this company was your literal be-all, end-all for a long time, then absolutely grieve it.

While Company X rewarded all your hard work in applying there with a rejection, Company Y is out there with another opportunity waiting for you to put your name in their hat instead. Maybe Company X would’ve worked out, maybe it wouldn’t. But would you really want to find out if they were willing to overlook you like that? I wouldn’t.

Consider their rejection of you as an applicant as a change of course in your voyage toward that new opportunity.

Third, their rejection of your application doesn’t mean anything about you as a person. The 90-page lists they post on their job ads of requirements are wish lists. If they’re basically married to their wish lists without exception, made it their hill to die on, and demand their next candidate meet every single requirement on that list and then some, then they’re only hurting themselves in the long run.

If they’re going to look for reasons not to hire someone, then maybe they need to do everyone a favor, pull their job postings, do like me on this blog, and do all the work themselves.

Remind yourself that their rejection of you is ultimately their loss at the end of the day. Company X’s loss is another company’s gain. Their rejection of you wasn’t personal. I know, it feels like it is, though!

Lastly, if you’re in the place to do so, maybe take a step back from your job hunt for a day or two. If not, then regroup for a few hours, get your sea legs back, and get back in the game. Remember, the companies that deserve us, get us, and they won’t need to resort to bait-and-switch tactics in order to make that happen.

Here’s to hoping we find that next great opportunity, and to leaving the companies that turned us down in our rearview mirrors.

Over to you, readers. I know you’ve dealt with job rejection at some point. How did you deal with it? What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your takeaways and your input, so drop it like it’s hot, and let’s talk.

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  1. These are great tips. Sometimes I feel like my knowledge and skills aren’t enough. It’s kinda disheartening to keep applying but none of them replies. I’m not unemployed or anything. I currently have a job but I want to transition to freelancing. I’ve been trying to apply for months to no avail. I’m even taking a short course now to enhance my skills. I’m still fighting though, trying not to lose hope.

    1. Hey there! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat, and also feeling like you’re not ‘good enough.’ I’ve been there myself, and it’s an uphill battle to keep those feelings from taking over. There are companies who are basically looking for reasons not to hire someone, and if they’re gonna turn their nose up at what you have to offer, or if they take months on end to get back to you, then it’s truly their loss. My current job isn’t enough to make ends meet due to a change in my circumstances, and there have been times where things felt so hopeless. That said, you aren’t alone in this, and I hope we both find the jobs we want that will pay us what we’re worth.

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