Rejection – It’s Not Personal

As job seekers, we all have one thing in common–at one point or another, we will all be rejected. When I was right out of college, I really wanted to work for this local company that was world-renowned for its jewelry. I imagined myself getting an employee discount and being able to present all my loved ones with those famous blue boxes containing carefully selected gifts. Imagine my excitement when I was called to interview for a position in their marketing department.

I practiced my answers for a week straight, making sure my facial expressions matched my enthusiasm, and my dress attire reflected my seriousness and professionalism. The interview went smoothly but I got a call two weeks later and was informed I didn’t get the job.

But, in the midst of rejecting me, the hiring manager said something very important, which would stay with me throughout my career. She said that while I didn’t have the years of experience they were looking for, that would come in time. If I was able to gain some experience and then pair that up with my personality, I would be unstoppable in whatever I ended up doing.

Coping with rejection.

Today’s job market is very competitive. This means that even some of the very best candidates are likely to see a few rejections. If you do get rejected, it’s not personal–how you react to the situation will be key to your future success. While you may feel frustrated or let down by the rejection, there are ways to stay positive and prepare for the next opportunity.

Evaluate your resume and interview.

Look over your resume and ensure that you are using keywords that position you as someone with the skills and experience necessary for the jobs you’re applying to.

Immediately after every interview, while information is fresh in your mind, take 10 minutes to review what you and the employer discussed. Write down the questions you were asked and how you answered those questions. Consider whether you could have added anything to your answers to enhance them. Many interviewers will ask you behavior-based questions to get insight to how you approach your work. What examples did you give for these questions? Can you think of any better examples you could have given? Make a list of the questions you asked the employer and the questions you now wish you had asked.

Be thankful.

Even if you had your heart set on a particular job, it might not have been the best fit for you. However, you may still want to work for that company. Send the hiring manager and recruiter thank you notes for considering you and indicate that you would be interested in other positions if they become available. Stay positive and keep your options open!

Improve/expand your job search.

Are you applying for the right jobs ? Are the opportunities in your target city matched to your skill level? Consider expanding your job search to include additional search terms or locations. Maybe casting your net a bit wider will yield jobs that are a better match for you.

Prepare for future interviews.

Enhance your interview skills by seeking assistance from your college’s Career Center to help you with interview training . Also, you can practice interviewing with a friend or family member through mock interviews. You should find someone who will give you honest feedback. The more you practice talking through interviews, the more successful you’ll be.

Mind over matter.

One of the hardest parts about rejection is that you feel disappointed. Don’t let these feelings overrun you. Make adjustments to your resume as necessary, practice your interview skills and keep actively posting to jobs. Staying motivated and positive will keep you on track for success.

In life and my career, I have seen my share of rejection. But without these experiences, I wouldn’t have found myself in some pretty cool jobs. Keeping in the forefront of my mind that brighter days would be ahead propelled me forward through the disappointments. Find your inspiration to stay positive, and remember that rejection isn’t personal.



Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

Related posts:

  1. Job Rejection…..Until We Meet Again
  2. Accepting Rejection
  3. Is it Rejection or Just Bad Manners?

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