How to reject rejection

Written by Waynne Meek

“I will not become my own worst enemy”. There, I have said it. 

But why is this important? In the modern world, rejection has become a very real evil, especially in the world of recruitment. The amount of applications for each job seems to have exploded, partly, I suspect, due to the growing influence of LinkedIn in our working lives. This makes getting a job seem a dauntless task, and makes rejection seem inevitable. In turn, rejection becomes a very harsh part of a job search.

Why it’s so hard

There are several reasons why rejection for a job application is so hard. There’s the fact that you have thrown all you have into the application and probably exposed your character to the core. It’s also a lonely thing – you are an individual in a seemingly never-ending process.

But the question of rejection goes deeper than that. Scientists have found that there’s also a physical reason too. Apparently, areas of our brain that are active when we experience rejection are the same ones that activate when we experience physical pain. Who knew! No wonder rejection seems to hurt more than we (and others) expect. The psychologists then got in on the act to suppose that this could be a throwback to Neanderthal times, when rejection from the safety of a tribe meant certain death – our ancestors were simply not able to survive on their own.

As rejection is a very personal thing, even the well-intentioned remarks of others can make it worse. No matter how many times you hear “Their loss”, “It’s not you its them” or “Better luck next time”, it never seems to really sooth the pain within.

So, what do you do?

Since the pain is very personal, the antidote is also best self-made. You might need to take a bit of indulgent ‘misery’ time – licking wounds for a short time is inevitable. You have a right to feel fed up – so do the couch, ice cream, wine thing. But, make sure you don’t wallow too long – a day or two should be enough!

Then, pick yourself up, take a deep breath and really force yourself to look at the facts. Look at your positive points – and write them down. There’s something about physically putting pen to paper to really get something into your head. This is where others can help too – call a friend or a relative and remind yourself that others see value in you.

Then, once you have cleared the toxic negative cloud that rejection forms, take stock of what you think actually happened. Once you can look at the situation with more neutral eyes, you can see if there are any learning to take. Is there anything you could have done differently? Were there any particular areas (or questions) you felt ill equipped to deal with? Then you can think about how you could improve on that.

It’s important here to understand where to stop though. A few ‘learnings’ from each rejection is enough. If you overanalyse, you risk slipping back into the negative cloud you were in before. Each situation can add to your experience and develop your technique, for example, but once this is done, it should be placed firmly back into the memory archives!

For example, I once went to an interview that I knew would be partly in French. I was confident in my ability to have a basic chat in the language, which was all that was needed. I brushed up a bit on my skills and went to the interview. What I hadn’t accounted for was the sheer mind-blanking terror that would hit when suddenly the interview switched to French. Needless to say, a promising interview crashed and burned, with me looking like a fish out of water – opening and closing my mouth with no sensible sounds coming out! The moral? Prepare, prepare, prepare – but also understand that sometimes it just won’t happen and you should account for these types of speed bumps on the recruitment road!

Empowerment can help

I have said that rejection is a personal thing, and that sometimes friends and family don’t seem to be able to help. However, someone who can look at the situation objectively and help you to see from their eyes is a great help. Career coaching provides an environment for you to figure out your next moves with the help of an experienced and empathetic ear.

We at Empowerment provide free coaching sessions for those out of work to help them to do precisely that. Our coaches can provide a listening ear (in several languages), and have a lot of experience in helping people to figure out there way forward. We can help you regain your self-worth and empower you get control over your career.

Rejection hurts – but don’t let it make you your own worst enemy. The antidote is Empowering yourself …