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Rejection Hurts. How to Stay Positive When Job Hunting

Unless you’re made of wood, when job hunting, it’s highly likely that you’ll hit a speedbump along the way that sends you swerving into the oncoming lane.

Perhaps you’ve sent out dozens of résumés with no response, or you’ve been rejected post-interview for the fifteenth time in a row. Whatever the situation, you may feel a sense of loss or deep sadness and are seriously beginning to question your self-worth.

Rejection is difficult at the best of times but especially when your livelihood is on the line. During these times, it’s easy to dive headfirst into a black pit of stinking thinking, convincing yourself that you’re too old or too young; under-educated or over-educated; inexperienced or too experienced. Short. Funny-looking. Just plain dumb. The list goes on.

Self-help author Byron Katie tells us to inquire about how we look at our thoughts, mainly as they refer to the self-defeating impulses that interfere with positivity. She tells us bad things do happen and that no thinking in the world can change reality. Instead of wishing the past hadn’t happened, she advises us to accept it and ask what can be done now. 

Staying positive requires change, and change requires action, and that begins with the first step.

Step 1. Allow Time to Grieve

Acknowledge your sadness and disappointment – feel it, mourn it, wallow in it – but only for a set amount of time. Once the deadline comes around, send your grief packing; you’ve got work to do. 

Step 2. Conduct Research

Knowledge is power, especially when job hunting.

Before applying to any business, learn all you can about it. It’s as easy as Googling the company’s name and reading the financial reports, reviews, and news articles that populate. Go to their website and consume its contents thoroughly. Follow the organization’s leaders as well as current and former employees on LinkedIn. You may even discover things that turn you off about the company during the process and be glad you didn’t waste time on them. At best, the knowledge you illustrate and the effort spent researching will highlight your interest and impress the hiring manager.

Once you have a good sense of the people who can help you get hired, make friends with them on LinkedIn and through networking, and then provide the value that your research taught you they’d appreciate.

When it comes to job descriptions, go through them line by line (and between the lines) to obtain clues and keywords that ensure your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview preparation cover the job’s objectives, skills, and requirements and align with the company’s corporate culture.

Step 3. Take Stock of Your Accomplishments

It’s easy to focus on the negative, but why do that when you can celebrate your successes instead? Build an accomplishment inventory today. No need to get fancy; begin jotting down your wins – the compliments you’ve received, dollars you saved, times you made a client smile or teams you’ve motivated. Write these on paper scraps, napkins, or whatever is handy, and then throw them into a shoebox. When you’re feeling down, open the lid and start reading. In no time at all, you’ll be out of your funk and ready to take on the world.

Step 4. Make use of Your Free Time

Is there a job you’d love to apply for but are shy on qualifications? What steps do you need to take to get there? Use your new-found time to upgrade your skills, take a course, finish your degree or volunteer in the field where you wish to work.
Now is also the perfect time to ensure your tools – your LinkedIn profiles, résumés, interviewing, and networking skills – are top-notch. Whip them into shape by speaking with career coaches, following experts online, and learning everything you can through books and Internet resources like LinkedIn learning and reliable blogs (like mine).

Step 5. Spend Time in Reflection 

After each interview, jot down the particulars of the conversation. Go with your gut – what felt right? What didn’t? Try to find two things to improve on for next time and turn them into goals. Journal often and meditate, visualizing the great outcomes that are coming your way.

Step 6. Reframe

Adopt an “it’s meant to be” mindset,” and understand that rejection can be your best teacher. Know that every loss brings you closer to a win as long as you allow yourself to grow stronger through the experiences.

Step 7. Don’t Settle

Whatever you do, resist the urge to move quickly or allow fear to make you play small. Instead, make two lists. One that contains your dream job, the other with work you’d be okay doing – for a while. Consider the okay list to be your bottom line.

It’s so important to remember that you are so much more than your career, job, or profession. Take a moment to focus on other aspects of your life – your family, hobbies, beliefs, and values. It’s about balance. You’ve got this!