How to Remain Confident After Job Rejections

You spent hours fine-tuning your cover letter and resume, making it unique and specifically prepared for this role. You had your lucky suit pressed and wore it to the job interview when HR called, instead of the embarrassing pajamas you were wearing when you got the phone call. You passed the first and second interviews with flying colors — they laughed, you laughed.

Then, you got the call or the letter. Opening it, you wore a half smile, trying to maintain a healthy balance of skepticism and optimism. It was a short form letter, rejecting you for yet another position.

While you do your best to keep the job search faith, it isn’t easy in the face of more rejections than acceptance when you’ve applied to dozens of roles. You’re not alone, and finding the right fit does take time, persistence and patience. Chin up, and think of “Charlotte’s Web.” Inside that web is written the word confident, and yes, it describes you.

Release Your Attachment to the Rejection

Maybe it sounds a little too zen for you, but if you’re holding onto rejection it’s hard to keep your eye on the target, which is a job that’s an ideal fit for you. Rejection sours the search and keeps you from being at your best when submitting applications and going on job interviews.

It didn’t work out, and there may be more factors to consider. Don’t focus on that right now. Your first step is to release the need to ask endless whys and become obsessive, instead of analyzing the rejection constructively and objectively. You need distance and acceptance to do this. Let go of your attachment to rejection, and release what’s holding you back.

Set Tangible and Reachable Job Search Goals

This isn’t to say you should scale back your job search to look for positions and pay that are less than what you deserve. Setting tangible and reachable job-search goals is about breaking the process up into breathable steps that give you time to work through the rejection while building confidence.

Set tangible job-search goals, instead of painting promotions in corporate castles in the sky after one mouse click. A tangible goal may be to follow up with HR two weeks after submitting an application, or even clicking send on that next application sitting in your drafts.

Set reachable goals, instead of propelling yourself back out there and forcing yourself to do something you’re not feeling fully. You won’t be at 100 percent. You won’t give 100 percent. What are you capable and confident of reaching for right now? Do it. One small, reachable goal may be attending a city networking coffee meetup. Go get that caffeine, and bring five business cards to hand out.

Be in Your Element: Focus on Your Career Niche

What’s your niche? It marries your signature strengths with areas of experience in your career you’ve excelled within. Where are you in your element?

Instead of spreading your resources, time and already scattered mental faculties any thinner, bring your energy in and focus on your career niche, that sweet spot between industries, departments and specialties. Are you a people person stuck in middle management, with an eye for talent? Maybe you’d thrive better in a talent recruitment role, especially if you have a passion or expertise in a particular industry.

Reflect on Patterns of Rejection

When you’ve gained some distance, look objectively and without negative self-judgment at patterns of job rejection. You may be aiming for entry-level positions when your experience has progressed to a more mid-level position. Your rejection may be due to a lack of training or technical knowledge, which is easily remedied with more research, study and practice.

It’s completely acceptable to ask for feedback from your contact at the company. A follow-up email, professional and concise in nature, is a great and simple way to do this. Give a thank you, and emphasize that you are interested in constructive feedback for professional development as you continue your search.

Go back to the interview. Were you nervous, when you are usually confident? What made you feel uneasy? Everyone gets anxious during job interviews, and being turned down may be due to the slightest of details, such as the interviewer’s mood or a miscommunication. While you may have a stellar resume and interview, it could be due to a foreseeable personality clash or difference in style when working with clients as perceived by the interviewer.

Go back through previous interviews and job roles and write down your observations. Keeping track will help you figure out what skills you need to hone and find your niche.

See Rejection as Opportunity and Persevere

It’s understandable to feel less than confident when it comes to continuing with the job search. Many factors, mostly outside of your control, are a part of job rejection, and the first solution to regaining your confidence is to let go of your attachment to that rejection. Then, you’re able to ask for constructive feedback and look objectively at the situation.

View rejection as an opportunity to uncover and develop your signature strengths, finding your special career niche to focus on in future job applications.

Ever get stuck after a period of job rejection? How did you get unstuck? Share your tips.

Keep the conversation going by commenting below and subscribing to Punched Clocks for more confidence infusion while on the job search, as well as career advice for when you land the job.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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