Don't let rejection keep you from finding a great job

Contributing columnistAugust 3, 2014 

Rejection is hard and is often a major obstacle for many job candidates.

I was contacted recently by a reader about this subject. Tiffany's inquiry was about how I manage to keep the energy up in my daily work, what has been my toughest rejection to date and how I dealt with it.

The short answer is that I'm a person of faith. And it's important to know that I work hard at maintaining a good outlook and staying grounded no matter the experience. But allow me to give some useful information on this topic.

Keep perspective. I cannot imagine the thoughts and emotions that a person would experience when learning they have cancer or some other life-altering challenge. Moreover, the notion of spending 27 years in prison during South Africa's apartheid rule as in the case of Nelson Mandela would be a reason to stay angry.

Whatever obstacle we face, we make a decision about how we move forward.

I recall a Mandela interview when he stated, "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

There is too much at stake during a job search — or just in the pursuit of happiness — to become or stay disgruntled or upset. Life is too short to focus on rejection during your effort to achieve your career goals. Also, you should carefully consider the consequences if you stay focused on one negative aspect of the job search. Simply put, you become ineffective and fruitless in securing employment. Thus, you get rejection letters or no response from your potential employer.

Worse yet, you might fall into some form of depression or less motivated to conducted your job search. Michelle Busby from Charlottesville, Va., can relate. She experienced a decrease in her motivation during four months of unemployment. But she pinpointed the roadblocks with the help of a professional coach.

"I have learned to elaborate and talk big about my skills and accomplishments," Busby said.

She added that her résumé languished until she embraced feedback as constructive versus critical and worked on it harder. She networked through LinkedIn and with recruiters throughout the search process to learn from their approach.

"After speaking with some recruiters I have learned that some hiring managers have already made their decisions and are interviewing you to meet their goals," said Busby, who will start a new job in a few weeks.

I suggest job seekers move on and get over the rejection they've faced. Being mad or staying upset is counterproductive to happiness. Also, it often derails a person during their search process and can result in them waking up 18 months later unemployed.

This topic is timely. I'm writing this column having received word that my position is being eliminated. Job elimination is a life-changing event, but it doesn't help to second-guess yourself and your skills, abilities, talents, experiences and education, when it happens.

When rejection comes your way, do some self-reflection as to why/how you arrived in this situation or why your job search is stalling, but move on to greener pastures. The quicker you refocus, the sooner you will be on the positive road.

Janis Ransom, a national, senior recruiter with First Investors Corporation in Indianapolis and a veteran of 30 years of recruiting, gives straightforward advice to overcome the pain of rejection: "Fully absorb it! Accept it! Get fully mad for a minute! Then toss it!"

It is important that you don't overlook the rejection, but more important is how you look at it, according to Shambra Mulder owner of life coaching firm Professional Life Coach.

Mulder suggests "avoiding distorted thinking." She's a professional coaching expert and looks at rejection through her educational psychology lens: "You could make it personal and attribute the rejection to something internal or you could attribute it to something external." The choice is yours, but taking residence in the rejection does not get you closer to a job offer.

Remember, too, if you aren't being called for interviews, or are getting very few during your search, it may be time for a résumé redo or to invest in some professional career coaching. It may be something simple: "It is possible that the candidate is applying to the wrong jobs, are they entering salary in their application, or your salary too high," said Ransom.

I hope rejections helps you restart, or in my case jumpstart, an aggressive job search plan. Join me in taking the high road because it will serve you better.

As Nelson Mandela walked out the door, so must you walk forward not allowing rejection to influence your destiny. But remember, all roads have potholes.

Lenroy Jones is the associate director at the University of Kentucky James W. Stuckert Career Center. He has a master's degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University. Join him on LinkedIn, "like" him at Facebook.com/CareerDude or follow him as @CareerDudeTweet on Twitter.

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