How to Handle Rejection When Things Don’t Work Out as Planned

It happens to everyone, and it will happen to you. Sometimes, it seems like it’s happening all the time. When a job doesn’t work out; when a prize, internship, or scholarship goes to someone else; when a client doesn’t like your work—Rejection.

It’s hard to maintain perspective when we invest so much hard work in something and it doesn’t work out. We tend to think of the job itself as the prize, the one thing that makes it all worthwhile. But that isn’t necessarily the case. All along the way, we learn and we develop an awareness of ourselves—including our capacity to handle the stresses of rejection.

Feelings of rejection can add up quickly, so it’s important to develop strategies for dealing with it. Keep two important things in mind when dealing with rejection:

Find an outlet.

Legendary job-search writer, Richard Bolles, often emphasized the importance of finding an outlet, especially while you’re out of work. There are two ways to do this: physically and mentally. You can exercise, take a long walk or hike, or anything else you consider a safe but effective way to physically express your feelings. On the other hand, you could read a new book, take a free online course to learn something new, you could even talk, talk, talk your way through rough spots with friends, family, advisors, and colleagues.

Learn from the experience.

Melody Wilding of The Muse reminds us that rejection is part of the process. When we let go of the need for a guaranteed positive outcome, many other possibilities open up. For example, consider informational interviewing: if you don’t land the job, follow-up with an investigation as what you can do differently next time. You can also keep notes on each rejection experience you’ve had: What did you do? How did you prepare? What happened? How did it feel? Then, as new opportunities arise (and they always do!) you can draw on your past experiences as you try again.

In addition to helping with job and internship searches, writing resumes and cover letters, and providing career development opportunities, career coaches at the Walter Center can help you through all stages of the job search process—including rejection. If you’d like to meet with a career coach, make an appointment today.

By Trevor Verrot
Trevor Verrot Career Coach Trevor Verrot