how to deal with job rejection

If you’re a job seeker in this economy, in addition to knowing how to write a good cover letter, talk winningly about your accomplishments, and follow up without being too stalkerish, you’ll probably need another skill too — dealing with rejection after applying for a job, maybe even one you really wanted and thought you were perfect for. Here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Even great candidates get rejected, so don’t take it personally. Especially in this job market, I’m turning down extremely qualified candidates constantly, simply because there are so many of them applying and I can only hire one of them for the job. Many times, I would happily hire plenty of the candidates who I have to reject.

2. Sometimes the person who rejects you for a job could be wrong. Hiring managers aren’t infallible, and hiring isn’t an exact science. We do the best we can with the limited information we have, so you shouldn’t take it as a measure of your worth.

3. Consider that the person may be right. Maybe your background is one that actually wouldn’t match you with the job well and you’d be likely to struggle in it, or maybe your working style would clash with the culture or manager. Often one personality type will simply fit better into a role than another will, and that’s the kind of thing that’s very difficult (if not impossible) for a candidate to know from the outside. Remember, it’s not just a question of whether you have the skills to do the job, it’s also a question of fit for this particular position, with this particular boss, in this particular culture, in this particular company.

4. Rejection letters are rarely forthcoming about why you weren’t hired. Don’t try to read between the lines and figure out what they might be hinting it. They’re not hinting at anything; they’re just trying to deliver the news in the easiest way possible, and they’re generally deliberately vague (because otherwise some people — not you, of course — will try to debate the decision).

5. Maybe you dodged a bullet. After all, you don’t want a job in which you won’t excel, or a culture that would make you miserable, and maybe the hiring manager did you a favor in the long run.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 1 comment… read it below }

  1. Elizabeth*

    I had 2 job interviews scheduled (state jobs). One was scheduled for Friday, the other was scheduled for Monday. When I got there I had to wait about 40 minutes and when I was called in I was told I would be interviewing for both jobs at once. 4 people and me. I was promised a call back early Monday morning. I emailed thank you notes to both. That was a week ago. No one called as promised. What do you think? Please help.

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