4 Ways to Bounce Back From Job Rejection


What's your go-to coping mechanism when faced with rejection? Openly sob in between giant bites of chocolate cake? Punch a pillow? Or maybe you bend the ear of every passerby about the sheer injustice of it all?

We learn these methods when we're young, and while most of our toddler tactics dissipate with time, it's not unusual to hang onto these particular rejection responses for life.

But there is a better way. Take it from the indefatigable Babe Ruth, who said, "It's pretty hard to beat a person who never gives up." You can take rejection and bounce back stronger than ever. Here's how. (See also: 11 Ways to Get Over Rejection)

Don't Wallow

Get a handle on the emotional stages you pass through when faced with rejection. The most common model of emotional stages — known as the change curve — categorizes them as shock, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although the model was initially designed to describe the stages of grief, they have been found to hold true with much more minor changes such as rejection.

Between the shock and anger stages, you're going to want to let off a little steam. Have a bellow. Take it out on the gym equipment. Pour yourself a large glass of wine. Whatever does it for you.

But moving on through the natural stages of adjustment is the key to a quick recovery. It can be easy to grind to a halt at the stages of bargaining and depression, and to find yourself wallowing in the defeat. If you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed by negativity, take stock. Pull yourself up. But should the feeling persist, and you feel trapped, don't be afraid to seek help from family, friends, and medical professionals if necessary.

Don't Take It Personally

Remember that rejection happens to all of us. From being stood up on a date, to missing out on a great job, to being declined for a mortgage, we've all been rejected at least once. If you want to take it all to heart, and find the personal slight in every rejection, you're going to live a life full of resentment and sadness. But the thing is, it's not about you.

Try to create a little distance between yourself and your negative thoughts. If a rejection feels personal, take a step back and put it into perspective. If you didn't get that promotion, maybe there was simply another candidate who fit the position better. Maybe you're lined up for a different opportunity you simply don't know of yet. Maybe the interviewer was just plain bad. Either way, it's not about you, so don't beat yourself up.

Reflect and Review

So now that you have a sense of perspective, acknowledge if there is anything you can or should learn from the experience. Be wary of falling back into the hole of self-doubt or blame. But if there's anything you can learn from this, then the experience has been worthwhile in its own way.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, and this isn't an exercise in wishful thinking. Ask yourself if, with the knowledge you had at the time, you could have taken a different course. If you were turned down for a bank loan, for example, could you have presented your case differently, or understood the assessment criteria better? Could you have improved your credit file or chosen a different bank to suit your circumstances? You cannot change the outcome, but you can turn regret into a life lesson instead.

Move Forward With a New Challenge

To reach the acceptance stage of the change curve takes time, and requires you to shift your focus from what has happened to what will happen. In other words, you need to get back on the horse.

Whether you can pick up the same challenge and try a different angle, or find a new goal to pursue, will depend on the circumstances. If you've been rejected from a particular job, for example, then reapplying to the same role is probably futile. But reminding yourself of what you were looking for more broadly, before restarting your search elsewhere is the perfect antidote to rejection.

If you've had a financial setback, then it might be time to rethink and set some entirely new money goals. What's crucial is having a meaningful target to shoot for, to stop yourself from slipping back in your adjustment process, and dwelling for too long on a rejection that has long passed. And this is where you have the possibility to not only recover from rejection, but to bounce back stronger than ever. Set a truly impactful goal, and use the pendulum effect as you swing from pent up frustration into full-on goal oriented action.

Rejection should be redirection, not defeat.

What's your top tip for overcoming rejection and bouncing back stronger than ever? Share with us in the comments!

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