How To Handle Job Rejection: 3 Steps To Recovery

by | Finding A Job

It’s normal to feel sad, mad, or scared after getting rejected for a job, particularly if you’ve been on the hunt for a while. How do you gracefully handle job disappointment? Are there mistakes to avoid after getting rejected from a dream position?

In this article, I share intentional steps you can take after getting turned down for a job, as well as missteps to avoid as you prepare to look for your next role.

3 Steps To Recovery After Getting Rejected From A Job

Here are 3 strategies worth trying to help you handle job search rejection with grace:

1. Process the rejection.

Begin by taking ample time to process the loss. This is a crucial step that many forget to take, as they worry it will prevent them from ever landing a job. Yet, as a job search expert, I can promise you that carving out the mental and emotional space needed to properly heal from job rejection will pay dividends. In fact, you’ll actually land something faster because you’ll show up.

Now, how long should you take to process the loss? The short answer is, it depends. Some job seekers only need 30 minutes or an hour to grieve, while others may need a few days or even a week to bounce back. The important thing is to give yourself enough time to feel any and all emotions associated with the topic.

There’s an important caveat here, though. You don’t want to remain stuck in this phase. Many of my coaching clients find it helpful to use a timer or deadline to limit how long they spend grieving a rejection and processing their emotions. This doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to come back to them, but it provides a container to hold any feelings of resentment and frustration surrounding the job search.

While we’re on the topic, I’ll share that I’m a major proponent of regularly airing your negative feelings in a healthy manner. For some people, this may look like journaling, while for others it may involve exercise or dance. The important part is finding an effective way to release any pent-up energy you may be harboring so you don’t carry it with you into networking meetings and job interviews.

2. Take action in your job search.

Once you’ve had ample time to process the rejection, it’s time to take action in your job search, as action is one of the most powerful ways to fight off frustration in addition to any other feelings of “stuckness.”

While it may be tempting to set a goal of interviewing with X companies per week or landing a new role job by Y date, these outcomes are beyond your control. Instead, focus your efforts on the aspects of the job search that are directly within your control. Here are some examples to get you started:

These are just a few examples of ways you can take meaningful action while remaining in the driver’s seat of your career. Remember to focus on those areas you have direct control over.

3. Call on your support system.

Lastly, you don’t have to handle job search rejection alone. While asking for help can bring up feelings of vulnerability, it’s particularly important that you lean into your support system following job rejection.

And if you don’t have a support system, start building one now. I encourage job seekers to curate and maintain a “Personal Board of Directors” that includes friends and family, former colleagues, mentors, and anyone else who will not only have your back and help you stay motivated through the job search but can also be called upon when the going gets tough.

Reaching out to your Personal Board of Directors with specific asks will enable you to make the most of their support. The following are a few examples of what this may look like.

  • “I would like to speak with you and process a recent rejection I received.”
  • “I’m applying for senior product manager roles in high tech and wanted to see if you happen to know any PMs at these companies.”
  • “I’m looking for a career coach to support me with my job search and wondering if you can provide any referrals.”

Final Thoughts On Handling Job Search Rejection

Recognize that everyone handles rejection differently, and all your feelings and emotions are valid. Be sure to give yourself space to process, then take action. And don’t forget to lean into your support system. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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