How To Actively Use Rejection To Get A Job


Rejection from a job that you applied for sucks. Period. But it's also something we'll all encounter at some point in our careers (I have been rejected by at least 7 agencies over the years. At least.). Because it's an inevitable part of the ride, the importance of individual rejections are minimized—it's what you do in response to rejection that really matters. To help you get through it, here's how to not just handle, but actively use your next "no" to land a job.

Separate ego and fear from the situation. Our initial response to rejection—that painful, sucky feeling in your stomach—stems from a knock to your ego (I'm not good enough) and the fear that you won't find a job. But realize that the reason for an agency passing on you could be a number of things, be it your experience, the culture fit, or just a timing issue. And who you are is so much more than these few things. A rejection, in the grand scheme of things, is relevant to only a small portion of yourself, so don't let it drag your whole self down. Likewise, try not to project one rejection as the forecast for your future. Just because one company said no doesn't mean the next one will (or the next one, or the next one, or the next one.)

Image by  Emily McDowell

Gather any feedback you can. If there was a way for you to get better at applying for jobs, wouldn't you want to know how? As awkward/scary as it is, a recruiter or interviewer who turned you down is the only person who can give you real pointers specific to you. So go ahead and respond to the rejection email by thanking them for their consideration, but also asking them to send any feedback they have on you as a candidate. Not everyone will follow through, but if they do, you'll have valuable learnings you can apply to your next go round. Since they already said no, you have nothing to lose by asking.

Step away from the search for a sec. These tips don't mean you should barrel through your rejections unaffected. Part of handling rejection like a champ is giving yourself time to mentally and emotionally process the rejection. It can be easy to get caught up in the application swirl, especially when you're first starting out. But if a particularly disappointing "no" comes through, take an afternoon to do something other than look/apply for jobs. Take your dog (who will love you no matter what) for a hike, binge watch a show, meet up with a friend. If you give yourself a small pause after a rejection, you'll come back to your search fresh and recharged.

Image by    MillMotion

Image by MillMotion

Put your energies towards what's next. Here's the thing about rejection: there's no changing what's already happened. So don't waste excess time and energy on a past opportunity. Take any frustration and use it to fuel your next at bat. Know that one agency's "no" will become part of your career story, and will ultimately lead to the right opportunity for you.

Even though rejection feels singular and specific to you in the moment, take comfort in the fact that so many others are in the exact same boat as you. Advertising requires resilience, and putting these tips into practice can help you bounce back stronger.

You got this,