Rejection in job search – how to use it to your advantage

No matter what level you’re on and what kind of job you’re looking for – you’re going to have to deal with rejection at some point. Actually the further up you climb, the less the jobs become and you might even have to deal with more rejection. Although these positions are mostly filled through existing connections, there is still often more than one candidate in the race for only one position. And as much as it can quite honestly suck (excuse me) to be rejected, I can only recommend to try and see the good in these rejections. It can only benefit you.

Establish connections

Every rejection is the end of a process that usually includes a number of people that you’ve made contact with. E.g. the executive search consultant, the HR executive or even fellow applicants you meet along the way. Some of these contacts may have been previously existing connections but it’s likely a number of them are new. New contacts are pretty much always a gain. Use it to extend your network. Connect with these people on social media (or anywhere else you can think of) and if you didn’t get the job, you still got the connections. Connections usually lead in a lot of different directions. One rejection doesn’t mean the contact is useless. To the contrary! I have experienced a number of times that a candidate that didn’t make it initially used the established connection (sometimes in particular: me) and got him/herself into another opportunity.

Stay visible and interesting

In order to harvest these connections and really make something out of a rejection, it’s necessary to be active. Don’t just curl up and feel sorry for yourself – which is a perfectly understandable reaction to “failure” – use the rejection as a starting point for something. You need to use the connections you’ve made in time and in the right way. Stay visible to the people you’ve met, make a lasting connection and keep the information coming. Without being all over the place you can gently keep people updated on what you’re doing and how interesting you are. Otherwise you just disappear in no time.

Learn from it and develop

Also: a rejection is always an opportunity to learn something about yourself. You can try to get feedback on your performance that you might be able to use and develop from. This is not always the case, since feedback isn’t always given and isn’t always constructive or usable but even your own reaction to the rejection can teach you something. Entrepreneur Jia Jiang held an inspiring TED talk about how he trained himself in 100 days of actively seeking rejection to better deal with it and what a surprising and uplifting outcome the experience had for him. Certainly a very good example!

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