How to Deal With Job Rejection

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on

Rejection sucks, no two ways about it.

You think you found the perfect opportunity…

– It’s in your field

– You’ve got the experience

– You’ve mastered your interview style

– The interviewers laugh at your dumb jokes

Everything’s going well. There’s no way you they won’t pick you! You’ve got them eating out of the palm of your hand.

You leave the interview feeling accomplished because you vibed so we’ll with them. They of course have to do the other interviews because they don’t want to rude. But it’s just a formality at this point because you nailed that interview. You should hear by next Monday that you got this job.

Then Monday comes, no calls or emails.

That’s okay! They’re probably just busy. Thy did say it’s been a busy couple weeks because of that project they mentioned working on. I’m sure they’re just busy will call you tomorrow…right?

A couple of days pass by and nothing. Maybe they meant to call you, but got caught up with something else. Maybe the hiring manager is sick and has to leave early. Maybe some interviews were rescheduled and they’re just finishing those up. It’s all possible.

adult-blur-business-631164But it’s the waiting that kills you. It’s easier to know you didn’t get the job, because then you can move on to other opportunities. But the though of not knowing eats you up inside.

What should you do? Continue to wait? Send them an email asking for an update? Yea let’s do that one! It will at least get them thinking about you.

What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they’ll say they’ve been busy and still haven’t made a decision. Maybe they’ve moved on with another candidate. Hey, at lease you’ll know at that point.

But that won’t happen, right? You rocked that interview and check all their boxes. You even sent them thank you cards. Who else does that anymore? You’re obviously the top choice for the position and you’d make a great part of that team. Maybe you could have focused a bit more on your time management skills in the interview. However, you impressed them so much, you would just be running up the score at that point.

Then you get a response.

“We have decided to move on with another candidate.”

How could this happen? You were the perfect fit. How did they not see it?

Unfortunately, this is a part of life. Plenty of people qualified for positions get passed on for multiple reasons, but that’s just how the business world works.

It sucks knowing you spent a lot of time and energy researching the company, changing your cover letter, and practicing for the interview to eventually come up empty-handed.

So how do you deal with it?

In short, you just do.

you got this lighted signage
Photo by Prateek Katyal on

I understand that’s not a good answer, but it’s the correct one. Rejection is a part of the work industry. Nobody is going to give you a job because you want it. They’re going to give it to you because you they believe in you. They believe in you because you were able to sell yourself to them. Maybe you think you checked all their boxes, but they didn’t see that. In their eyes, there were some boxes you left unchecked. There was probably a factor that you completely missed, like being a pro at Adobe Acrobat, or knowing how to write solution briefs.

They key is to use this rejection to your advantage. Instead of seeing this as a drawback back, see this as a learning opportunity. You weren’t pick because you were missing something. Identify that missing aspect and add it to your skill set. Maybe you need more WordPress experience, or maybe you need to work on your answer for the “describe your work experience” question.

You won’t know unless you ask. Reaching out to the hiring manager that gave you that bad news is a great way to access constructive criticism. It’s a challenge because most people probably won’t respond back to you. However, if you’ve made it to the interview phase, it shows that you were genuinely considered. Employers are more likely to respond if you were their second or third choice for the job, because you were able to establish rapport.

adult business coffee computer
Photo by Martine Savard on

Constructive criticism is the best way to grow as a business professional and as a person. As someone who’s been rejected after the interview phase dozens of time, I know that all those rejections helped me understand my flaws and build my marketability.

I won’t lie, it hurts when people identify your flaws. But it’s important to note that it’s not personal. Employers don’t truly know you, they only know what you show them. When you are rejected, it means you didn’t show them the right message.

Reaching out to an employer who rejected you also allows the possibility of networking. I remember I ended up being the second choice for a marketing position. I went through all the emotions listed at the beginning of this blog. Instead of moping about not getting this position, I reached out to the hiring manager asking what I could have done differently. Our correspondence kept continuing and eventually we met up outside of work so I could get a chance to pick her brain about the marketing world. I even send her my resumes and work samples to critique.

I turned a rejection into a reference I could add on my resume. Picking yourself up and moving on is a pretty general answer on how to cope with rejection. But the key is to use this as an learning experience and move on with a better head on your shoulders. You really do have to earn your desired position, nobody’s going to give it to you because you asked nicely.



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