Handling Non-acceptance

When it becomes clear to most people that they were not accepted for an opportunity they were hoping for their first instinct is to feel rejected. It tears into their self esteem and it takes away some of the momentum vital to a successful job search. Understanding  that there are inherent challenges to finding and securing an ideal opportunity, we’d like to offer an alternate way to look at your job search.  Rather than seeing yourself as rejected, try thinking that they just simply accepted someone else. 

Of course, because human beings are social by nature, it is quite normal to feel the sting of a group not choosing to include you.  In more tribal times, rejection by our group threatened our survival and despite the do-it-yourself world we now inhabit, some of that still lingers. 

So how can we overcome this feeling when we are out there hunting for a job and are feeling like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.  Well the first step is to realize that you cannot be rejected by someone who does not know you.  If that statement is unclear, look at it this way.  Have you ever met someone who says that they don’t like a food that they’ve never tasted?  Enough said.  It may sound strange, but true rejection is something you earn over time.  In the case of not landing the job, it can just be circumstantial, timing,  or just the fact that someone else more suitable was accepted.  Either way, it’s not personal even if it feels that way.

Now here are some steps you can take to turn your focus away from feeling rejected and towards thinking acceptance.

  1. Watch the news sparingly. This doesn’t count if you are trying to check the winning lotto numbers, but other than that, choose your news wisely.  If you notice that you feel less energized by watching the news, turn it off.  Now isn’t the time to feel low.  Just think about it this way.  If the news is bad enough someone is going to warn you about it and if it is good news, it won’t get much coverage in the mainstream anyway. So instead of watching the news to confirm your worst fears, look for information that is going to add value to your day and to the people you encounter on your job search.
  2. Stop taking the outcome personally. As I mentioned above, true rejection is something you earn over time.  Unless you worked for them before, a company does not have enough information to reject “you”.  It is akin to someone you met once  or twice at a networking event not staying in touch.  It’s rarely you.  Making a hire is a tough decision and in most cases there’s only one opening.  Most people aren’t getting hired for it.  You’re part of the crowd.  If you are making enough of an impact to earn a personal rejection by everyone you meet then you are going to need to hire someone to help you.
  3. Focus on the things you can change. Chances are that whether the company calls to let you know their decision or not, you will eventually have to move on and you won’t be able to change their minds. This means you are going to have to rely on your assumptions for feedback.  So assume, that if you are certain that you were qualified for the position but you did not get a second interview, then your presentation did not communicate this effectively.  What can you do about it?  If you made it through numerous rounds of interviews and didn’t get hired, you can assume that it is not your presentation skills, but rather the person hired seemed to be a “better fit”. It’s probably only a matter of time for you, but you could work on showing your openness. Work on radiating a welcoming presence.  What steps can you take?
  4. Become a cheerleader.  This is serious. When you hear other people’s good news, allow yourself to get excited about it.  If you can let other people’s bad news take you down, why can’t you let their good news lift you up?  When you hear about someone getting a job, see it as a sign that things are picking up.  Ask them about their experience and genuinely listen.  The more people you congratulate on their success the better you will feel and if you can help them succeed then even better.  Someone will remember it when you least expect it.
  5. Choose to be bettered by this experience. This mindset may not put money in your pocket immediately, but it will pay dividends over time.  No one can stop you from learning but you.  Start a journal if you need to, like Tim Johnston in Diary of a Job Search.  Become an expert in what it takes to manage a job search and then share it with others. You never know where it can lead you and at a minimum it will reduce or eliminate the lethargy common to typical “post and hope” job searches.
  6. Get the word “rejection” out of your mouth and out of your mind.  Notice that this post is titled Handling Non-acceptance.  The fact is for any given position, someone is going to be accepted.  Everyone else is not accepted.  If you choose a meal off of a menu are you truly rejecting all of the other entrees.  No you are not.  You are accepting one of them.  This simple shift in perception can actually change your entire attitude over time.  You will be able to go into an interview and say to yourself, “someone is getting accepted for this position and it may as well be me.”  Who knows, you might be right.  It definitely beats thinking, “I can’t handle another rejection.  Please pick me.”  Which of those two mindsets is more empowering?

3 Responses to “Handling Non-acceptance”

  1. […] the subject of closure has come up on the JCSI CareerAssist blog.  In a previous post entitled Handling Non-acceptance, we told candidates not to focus on the things that they cannot change.  Sometimes you will not […]

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