“We regret to inform you..” are 5 words nobody ever wants to see as they excitedly open an e-mail from a prospective employer. Whether it was your dream job or not, rejection hurts. While it’s common to be upset and feel a loss of self-confidence, bouncing back from rejection more confident than before IS possible– even if it might not happen overnight.
While simplifying the recovery process from rejection isn’t easy, here are 5 steps to take to make yourself rejection-proof for the next time. Or even if you do get rejected another few times, at least you’ll be able to get a grasp on why that might be.
Reflect on WHY you didn’t get the job. Often, the most helpful thing to do to begin recovering from your rejection is to understand why it happened in the first place. Was your resume as good as it possibly could have been? Did you carefully read the job description? If you had an interview– think beyond the benefits of the job that you wanted; were you REALLY a good fit for the company culture? I had an interview for a highly competitive post-grad program that I was SO excited for. I felt I was a passionate candidate who had all the right credentials. I interviewed well and was completely myself. While I left my interview feeling confident that I let my interviewer get a good taste of who I was as a person, I had the feeling afterwards that I didn’t quite fit in. While the rejection e-mail telling me that I wouldn’t be moving onto the next round still stung a bit, being able to self-reflect on this made it a lot easier to stomach. So, before you get too down on yourself, really think about WHY you got rejected. It was most likely for the best.
Think really deeply about your past experiences, take personality assessments (MBTI, Strengths Finder, etc.) and talk to your friends, family or past supervisors about what they really think of you. Hearing their positive feedback will remind you that you really are a great candidate and help you reaffirm your strengths for your next interview. Perhaps, they’ll even help you pinpoint a weakness you didn’t know you had. If you’re thinking you really might have done something wrong, ask people who know you what some of your weaknesses are. Be prepared for answers you might not like to hear, but use them and think of how you can leverage these weaknesses to grow and improve yourself as a job candidate.
If you still can’t get over it, ask the people who rejected you for their feedback. If you asked people who are close to you to relay your strengths and weaknesses to you, feel like you interviewed flawlessly, and did all the right things in your job search process (sent timely follow-ups, fit the job description and company culture), it might be best to ask your interviewer/recruiter for some feedback. While there is no guarantee that they will provide you with accurate information, or even respond to you at all, asking for a little peace of mind may be reasonable. Only do this if you made it considerably far in the process and feel like you spent adequate time with the company (just a phone screening probably doesn’t count). Here are some great tips on how to go about asking for feedback. Once again, prepare to hear things you might not want to hear and don’t argue with whatever they say, even if you disagree.
Make your resume rejection-proof. If you didn’t make it past the resume stage, it might be time to rethink your resume. Did you get your resume reviewed by the CCO? Was it tailored to the job description? Formatting and grammar are important– are you making sure you have all these things correct? Whether you did or not, not making it past the resume stage of the application most likely has the least to do you with your personality and more to do with the overwhelming volume and quality of other candidates. Remember that dozens, if not hundreds, of other college students just like you are vying for the position too. Have you done something to differentiate yourself? Join clubs and gain valuable experiences in college, and make sure there aren’t any typos or formatting issues (even the common misspelling of there versus their calls for a fresh pair of eyes on your resume). Remember that you can always reapply for a position at this company at a later time. Rejection hurts- but know that it probably wasn’t personal in this case.
Learn how to interview.
Did you feel like you interviewed flawlessly? Or do you get choked up and rush through your answers in interviews? If your answer is the latter, then you’re not alone, but you should probably practice interviewing. One key to interviewing well is knowing yourself well and what you have to offer– and then practice talking to people. Set up a peer mock interview with the CCO and practice common interview questions. Arrive on time, send a timely thank-you note (see our blog on how soon actual recruiters said you should be following up.. hint: more than 2 days and you might have blown it). If your bad interviewing skills are the reason you keep getting those dreaded rejection e-mails, practice, practice, practice, practice. Know yourself. You are awesome. Just learn how to communicate that to others.
The CCO offers pep talks, peer mock interviews, resume reviews and more. Just drop-in between 10-4 Monday thru Friday or schedule an appointment online. You’re one rejection closer to landing the perfect job for you.