4 Tips for keeping your chin up in the face of rejection during your job search

By: Don Oehlert
Managing Partner, eCareerCoaching.com

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Every day in job search, you face the possibility of loss.

Among other things, you can feel the loss of an opportunity, loss of motivation, loss of the feeling of usefulness. Loss of your spirited self. Loss of your sense of humor.

Many other things.

These are all natural human reactions to some very difficult times. Like the times we live in right now. As the old adage goes – “may you live in interesting times.” Something like that anyway.

“Joseph [Chamberlain] used [a] … distinctive phrase during addresses he delivered in 1898 and 1901. Joseph’s speeches assigned a complex meaning to “live in interesting times” with connotations of opportunity, excitement, anxiety, and danger.

Joseph Chamberlain, father of future Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain

I will also take this opportunity to change the meaning behind the classic “Four Ps” of marketing, outlined by E. Jerome McCarthy in his 1960 book entitled “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.” So here are my 4 Ps of Job Search:

  1. Practice self care
  2. Practice your SARs
  3. Practice your Elevator Pitch
  4. Prepare for rejection, but hope for the best
  5. When one door closes, a window opens

OK, so I made it 5 items. The 5th didn’t start with a “P,” so I didn’t count it in my initial thought, above. Also, I like to under-promise and over-deliver. Ha!

Alright, let’s review those 5 points in some (short) detail.

Number 1 – Practice self care

What do I mean by that? Well, in a nutshell, if and when you are rejected for a job you really wanted, take some time to lament the loss. Think back on the whole process. What can you do differently next time? What should you continue to do the same way? What can you learn from this loss?

Can you or did you ask for feedback from the contacts you made? No one owes you an explanation, but you never know when you’ll get feedback, so always ask. The worst that can happen is, they ignore your request.

Take a few moments to ponder the situation deeply.

After all of that, take a nice long hot bath. Drink a milkshake. Take a walk. Take a nap. Do something you enjoy doing, just for the sake of doing it. Meditate. Do yoga. Get a massage. Whatever.

Mourn the loss and get your head back on straight, so you’re ready for the next opportunity. Simply put, you can’t allow this one loss to determine your attitude towards the next opportunity. Discouragement will show up in your face at your next interview, and that one won’t go well, either. You do not want that snowball to grow.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next opportunity you had in your pipeline. You always have a number of opportunities in your pipeline, right?

Number 2 – Practice your SARs

This cannot be overstated. Well, it’s Priority 1A to Number 3’s Priority 1. If you don’t know what SARs are, simply put, SAR stands for “Situation as I found it. Action I took. Result of my actions.”

In other words, these are the stories you build about the quantified metrics of your career history> String together enough quantified results, and you’ll show how you drove business results. In other words, how you did what you did that lead to business movement.

If you have several SARs over the course of your career (looking for 3-5 per decade of experience), you can build a nice story that trends upward for the Positional Interviews you’ll attend.

Number 3 – Practice your Elevator Pitch

Seriously. Consider this. Academy Award winners do not “wing it” when it comes to their award-winning roles. In your case, winning the Academy Award is getting the job you want.

Understand that many, if not most people will wing it when it comes to managing their careers. And they’ll continue to wing it as it relates to job search as well. And that’s great! For you!

Get your Elevator Pitch out there, down to about 15-30 seconds. No longer, please. If you go longer, most of your audience will tune you out somewhere in the telling of your stories. They can’t help it. Their attention spans are what they are these days. In other words, short.

Number 4 – Prepare for rejection, but hope for the best

While you’re doing all of your planning and practicing, make sure you understand that sometimes, you’re just not going to be a good fit for a role you really wanted. The most growth happens when you face rejection or lack of success. Learn from these losses.

All you can control is what you can control. And frankly, that’s not much.

You can, however, control how much research you put into a target company. You can control how much time you put into practicing your SARs and your Elevator Pitch. You can control your emotions when you will be rejected. You can control how long you let that rejection bother you, and color your approach to the rest of your job search activities.

We cannot direct the winds but we can adjust our sails.

Thomas S. Monson

Number 5 – When A door closes, a window opens

Yes, this one may sound a bit on the “new age” side of things, but it is very, very true. The cosmos (or your spiritual guide, your God, or whatever) needs to be in balance. There’s a plan for you in this life, and no one else does what you do – especially the way you do it. With that thought, you need to keep on going, even when the road gets to be quite challenging.

Sometimes the best opportunities pop up when you least expect it. Sort of like when you fell in love (or when you will fall in love). You’re not looking for a life partner, but all of a sudden there your person is, standing in front of you. Or you meet in the laundry room of your apartment building. Or at the grocery store. Or at an association meeting. Whatever.

When you hear that window close, start looking around to see if you can find the breeze from the other open window somewhere else. It’s there. It may be hard to find, but it’ll be there.

Your day will come. A great job awaits you. They are looking for you as hard as you’re looking for them!


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