Rejection is nobody's idea of a good time. When you're searching for a date, an opportunity, admission to the college of your dreams, a chance at fame, or—most important for our purposes—a great job that can help you pay your bills and advance your career, rejection is the opposite of a happy ending. But as all well-rounded adults eventually realize, rejection is a necessary and unavoidable part of life, growth, and career development. If you don't know how to handle it with grace, or you've never been rejected at all, then you haven't gotten very far on your journey to wherever it is that you're going.
If you're passed over for a job you really wanted, recognize the moment as a meaningful, if unpleasant, experience. Process it and move on. These seven actions can help you face the day after a "no".
You can ask for feedback
If you want to ask why you were rejected, you're within your legal rights to do so. But if you decide to ask, do so with clarity and purpose. Don't lose sleep for the next five weeks before picking up the phone and bombarding the confused hiring manager with angry questions. If you're going to ask, ask only once. Do it as soon as possible, be polite, and accept the answer you're given. Use the feedback to help you in your job search.
Were you discriminated?
If your interviewer asked you questions about your age, religion, race, sexual orientation, or family status, you might have been a target of illegal bias. Take action right now while the facts are still fresh and recent. Talk to a lawyer first to determine if you have enough evidence to support your allegations, and find out what you need to do next if the answer is yes. Before you get carried away, remember that some interviewers make mistakes during small talk sessions. Be prepared to accept the lawyer's opinion on the matter.
Don't slow your search
If you've been putting your job search on hold while waiting to hear from this employer, get the wheels back in motion. Put the sting of rejection behind you by landing another job as soon as you can.
Engage in self-care
Ideally, we'd all like to be the kind of hearty souls who can laugh off rejection. But it's okay to feel discouraged or demoralized. You take your career seriously, and that's a good thing. So take a few hours off, or even an entire day. Indulge in your favorite guilty pleasures (ice cream, anyone?) and practice good self-care in general. You'll hit the pavement again when you're ready.
Maintain your composure and dignity
When rejection strikes, it sometimes feels good to wail and vent. But if you choose this route, share your frustrations only with trusted friends and family members. To the outside world, maintain a calm and unflappable demeanor. You don't know which interaction, conversation, or relationship will open the door to your next job. Present yourself as a person who doesn't get baffled by the little things. Stay cool.
Say thank you
Whatever you do, don't storm off in a huff. Don't hang up the phone in a fit of pique. Don't fire off any passive-aggressive emails. Just say thank you. Thank the employers for considering you, and do so from the heart. Later on you'll be glad you did.
Make your own luck
Maybe you were just unlucky this time. Maybe you'll be luckier the next time around. And maybe there's no such thing as luck, and you'll land the next job (or the next) because you're a resilient person who makes the most of every setback. Luck or no luck, take responsibility for your mistakes (if you made any) and move on quickly to the next chapter. For help and guidance, turn to MyPerfectResume.