How to Not Take the Job Rejection Personally

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Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Whether it's a call from an interviewer saying that the company decided to go with a different candidate or a mass e-mail notifying all applicants that the position they applied for has been filled, rejection is difficult to stomach. And while you know that countless others are facing this same scenario, sometimes it is hard not to feel that maybe it isn't the economy but something inherent about you that's keeping job offers from happening.

Here, experts share three strategies on how to stop taking job rejection personally.


1. Don't wallow alone

"When members receive a rejection, the first thing we recommend is that they call their mentor or member of choice who can give them support," says Valentina Janek, president of the Long Island Breakfast Club -- a support group of job seekers. "Secondly, on that very day, we recommend the individual dust himself off, get dressed and go do something positive and enjoyable. The worst thing is to be alone and internalize the rejection."

Speaking with others who have experienced the frustration of trying to find a job can help put things into perspective, especially for the long-term unemployed. While it still isn't fun to have to pound the pavement again, fellow job seekers can act as motivators, point out your positive attributes and assist you in figuring out your next step.


2. Clear your head of personal attacks

After receiving a rejection, your brain may become loaded with negative messages about your employability. Instead of letting these thoughts destroy your confidence, try to replace them with other possible reasons why somebody else was hired.

"It is important to understand that sometimes employers make decisions based on factors or traits that are out of a candidate's control," says Brenda Fabian, director of the center for career services at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa. "An employer might choose to hire a candidate based on a recommendation from a colleague, an advantage you simply didn't have. An employer may be more drawn to another candidate because that candidate is from the same geographic area. Recognize that the timing simply may not have been right and that future opportunities could be available with that same employer."


3. Take action

The sting from rejection and those feelings of personal doubt will disappear much faster if the ultimate goal of finding a position is met. Thus, it pays to focus on revitalizing your job search and finding ways to boost confidence.

"Job seekers can separate the personal from the professional by empowering themselves so as not to feel like they are not getting the job because of personal shortcomings," says Lizandra Vega, author of 'The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want' and co-founder of Perennial Resources International, a New York City-based boutique search firm.

Some ways people might try to gain greater control over their situation include:

  • Exercising and eating healthy to look and feel their best.
  • Countering the perception that "nobody is even looking at me" by participating in job fairs and other networking opportunities involving face-time.
  • Taking classes to freshen up an application or to get rid of self-perceived educational gaps.
  • Trying a new job-search method or tactic. (Vega suggests considering a video résumé where potential employers can see and hear you.)
  • Volunteering, consulting or doing temp work to sharpen skills and meet new people.

The bottom line is that if you don't believe you are worthy of a job, employers won't either. It is critical to shake off feelings of personal inadequacy as quickly as possible by doing whatever is necessary to boost self-confidence -- for when you feel good about the package you bring to an employer's table, rejection feels less personal and more like just a common (though unpleasant) part of searching for a job.

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.

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