By Jack Kelly – Forbes
Interviewing for a job or seeking advancement at work is stressful and nerve-racking. The pressure is now intensified as there’s a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic with no immediate end in sight. Over 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment, millions more are underemployed, or have finished collecting benefits and have fallen off of the government’s official data coverage. So, now you’re faced with intense competition.
During the job search, you’ll be met with rejection and it’s even worse now. As companies are concerned over what will happen in the future, it’s hard to get noticed at the office, especially as everyone’s fighting to hold onto their jobs or get a better one.
It’s especially hard to handle rejection when you’re worried about your financial situation, how you’ll pay the bills, rent, or mortgage. After submitting dozens of résumés and completing lengthy, annoying, and glitchy applications every day without hearing back, it’s nearly impossible to stay positive. When you think you did exceptionally well in an interview and haven’t heard back after several weeks, it’s devastating. If you’re stuck in the same role at work and no one is giving you a chance, it’s hard to keep making it through the day.
Here are some ways to cope and rebound from rejection.
1) It’s not just happening to you.
Take a small measure of comfort in knowing that everyone is going through the same thing. We’ll all be in this together. Yes, there will be some people who look like they’re getting all of the breaks, but those are the rare exceptions. Take comfort in knowing that everyone else is experiencing similar feelings of fear, stress, and bouts of depression. Everyone at one point in their career gets rejected for a coveted role, loses out to an office rival for a lucrative promotion, or gets ghosted after a great series of interviews.
2) Maybe it’s not meant to be.
Once in a while, you catch a break and you’re in the right place at the right time. Most often, you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not getting selected to move on in the interview process nor getting a raise or big bonus may have nothing to do with you. It could be due to a host of other factors. The job may have been placed on hold or the company went in a different direction. There could have been an internal candidate that received the job offer. The senior vice president’s nephew got the promotion.
3) Consider your approach.
If you keep striking out, it may be time to do some self-analysis. Are you applying for jobs outside of your core competencies? What does your social media footprint say about you? How’s your tone in the interview or at the office?
When you’ve been beaten down, it’s easy to start feeling bitter, resentful, and angry. These unattractive traits could come out and alienate people. If a manager senses that you’re unhappy and blame others for everything that’s happened in the past, they won’t be interested in extending an offer or giving you more responsibilities. In this job market, they’ll believe that there are many other smart, capable, and level-headed people with positive attitudes available.
4) Make adjustments.
If you keep striking out, share your presentation style with trusted friends and mentors. Ask them for their honest evaluation, constructive criticism, and feedback. Really listen to what they have to say and enact the necessary alterations to your approach.
You should also take a step back and assess other elements too. Review your résumé, LinkedIn profile, networking strategy, and social media postings. People look at these things and make snap judgments. Ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best light.
Practice your elevator pitch until you feel it’s perfected. Think of all the questions that could be asked of you and rehearse your answers.
5) Manage your expectations.
Pre-pandemic, your goal may have been to find a job within one to three months. You also wanted to receive a certain title and compensation. In a strong job market, that’s fairly reasonable. Today, you need to adjust your definition of success. Getting a new job is very hard and could take a long time.
Focus on the victories along the way and celebrate them. Feel good when you hear from a company. Pat yourself on the back when you get an interview. Get excited about a second round. Keep in mind that the odds are stacked against you. So, if the offer does not materialize, it won’t crush you.
6) Keep a running list of your good qualities.
Rejection can sap your self-confidence and question your abilities. You may start ruminating on all of the bad breaks that hurt you in the past. Left unchecked, you can slide down a slippery slope of self-doubt and second-guess any decision you make.
Replace the negative feedback loop with a recitation of all of your stellar qualities and crowning achievements. When a negative thought pops up, immediately replace it with a memory of a time in which you prevailed over adversity. Mentally repeat back all of your accomplishments—both big and small. It will serve as a reminder that you’ve succeeded in the past and can prevail against all odds in the future.
7) Positive mantras help.
Self-talk yourself into a success-oriented mindset. Have a list of positive affirmations and play them on a loop to fight back against the obstacles and hurdles in your path.
“This is merely a minor setback; I will find a new job!”
“Just because I was rejected for the job does not diminish my self-worth and value.”
“I am smart, talented, and have a lot to offer.”
“I won’t give up and will make it through this tough time!”
8) Stay strong and tough.
You need this to power through the daily challenges. A helpful tip is to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Don’t wallow in self-pity or engage in destructive behaviors, such as binge drinking, eating to excess, watching too much television, taking drugs, or isolating yourself from others. Hit the pause button and stop obsessing over your situation. Find some hobbies to distract you. Engage in activities that you excel at, so it provides a confidence boost. Take a walk in the park to clear your head, set a workout routine, listen to thoughtful and encouraging podcasts and read books or stories of uber-successful people that triumphed over failure and rejection to put you in a better mood.
It’s not easy to cope with rejection. This will be a constant battle. By focusing on staying strong, reminding yourself of all of your great qualities, reevaluating your approach, adopting positive mantras, taking a break, and adjusting your definition of success, it will help you combat and overcome the feelings associated with rejection.