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Rejection 101: How To Handle Being Rejected

Posted on the 01 November 2012 by Classycareergirl @classycareer

Today’s post is written by Holly, an aspiring writer at, who recently graduated from Dickinson College.

Last week I was rejected from the Dream Job – the one that would be personally fulfilling and launch me onto a path to achieve all of my career aspirations. This was Dream Job #3, of course. The first I never heard back from. The second was taken off the website before I even had a chance to apply. In this one I got all of the way to the second stage of the interview process before I was told thanks but no thanks, which I guess is progress, looking back at my record.

Needless to say, I was devastated. Rejection, no matter where it’s coming from or who is doing it, is like a punch to the gut. It’s being sent back to the start without passing “Go” and collecting your two hundred dollars. There’s no easy way around it because there’s always that little voice whispering, “You weren’t good enough.”

How to deal with that horrible feeling of rejection?

One of my friends has a playlist of power ballads that she uses, which I am strongly considering adopting. Because no doubt this is just one of many more to come, but this particular instance taught me a lot about how to handle rejections.

First, it is completely okay to make a teary phone call to your mom after you get that email saying that your application is not being pursued. Tears happen, and that’s fine. You put yourself out there and started hoping, and disappointment is only natural, especially if it was a job that you really, really wanted and thought you had a good chance at. And, assuming that your parents want you to be successful in life, they’ll feel for you and say all of the requisite parent things that you might really want to hear at that point.

Second, tell that little voice to shut up. Someone with much better perspective than I have told me that I wasn’t allowed to beat myself up for not being good enough because I didn’t know all of the circumstances. Did I try my hardest? Yes. Well, that’s all that I could ask of myself. It took me a lot longer to get there, but eventually I realized that he is absolutely right. As long as you put forth your best effort, there’s not really anything more that you could have done.  If you didn’t try your hardest, well, you maybe didn’t deserve that job anyway.

Sometimes your best effort just is not a good fit, for a multitude of reasons. In my case, I had done a writing test in a way that made sense to me given my experience, but it simply wasn’t what my prospective employer was looking for. Now I have a much better idea of what they actually wanted. I had to learn it the hard way, but now I can approach the next interview situation armed with that additional bit of knowledge. It can feel like a brutal education, but you have to learn from every rejection. I emailed the woman who interviewed me to ask what I could have improved on and she was nice enough to give me some really helpful feedback. Not everyone will do that and if they do I suggest that you wait until you’re in the comfort of your own home to read that particular email (learned that the hard way, too), but it’s worth asking. All you can do is learn from it.

None of this makes the initial sting of rejection any easier, of course. That still sucks. But it does make getting back up and out there easier.

What have you learned from rejection?

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