San Diego Union Tribune

Rejection in Job Search: How to Survive and Prosper

You have been sending out resumes like crazy and your interviews have been coming far and few between. Or you got that second interview for a really great job, but that rejection letter hits you like a ton of bricks. You begin to think – I am not worthy. I’ve been rejected again.

Dealing with rejection in your job search is extremely difficult for all of us. Our self-esteem already is low and rejection seems to help us dig deeper into our depression hole. Therapists say that job rejection can lead to as much depression as being jilted by a prospective lover.

I often see candidates coming in for an interview with a very defeated attitude that permeates their body language and conversation. “No one has hired me; you’re not going to hire me, so let’s get this over as fast as we can!” So how do you avoid this negativity and survive and prosper?

Process your emotions

It is natural to feel angry, frustrated and sad when you’re working so hard to find a job and meeting with so much rejection. That rejection is a huge threat to one’s self-esteem. When you’re down in the dumps that can quickly spiral into what feels like a full-blown “pity party.” It can hold you back from any future chance at success. Take a good look at your emotions. See this as a fresh opportunity to do even better next time. Keep a smile on your face. Turn each rejection into a learning opportunity. What did I do right, and what could I do better next time. Every interview is a learning experience. Stay focused on your ultimate goal…that new exciting job.

Create a list of “bragging rights”

It’s very easy to blame yourself and find fault with your resume, your skills, your age or even your personality. Try writing down some of your accomplishments and contributions. Then develop three key stories about times you overcame an obstacle in your career. By recognizing your strengths and ability to succeed in the face of challenge, this exercise can instantly shift you from down in the dumps to totally psyched.

Never take it personally

Don’t use a job interview as a measure of your professional worth. The hiring process at most companies is typically difficult to gauge and certainly not in your control. Just because you didn’t make it past interview round one doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job.


Yes, I said exercise. Though you may not feel like it, going to the gym or getting outside can help you feel better, especially after you get a rejection letter or call. About 20 minutes of exercise can start to release the endorphins in your body. Activity will help you clear your head, expend some energy and recharge for the next round.

Work your network

I am a firm believer in this topic and I refer to it constantly in my book ‘Job Won!’ Even in this day of technology, over 70 percent of jobs are found through networking. Talking to more people about your search is a great way to deal with your feelings. Look for those networking opportunities in your industry or simply a networking event in your community. It is great emotional support, and there will often be others who are looking for work. Share your struggles and successes with them and you will feel better.

Rejection hurts, but following this advice will help you make sure it doesn’t derail your job search. Remember, while a job rejection might at the moment feel like the end of the world, it’s really an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the job search process to improve your future.

Phil Blair is co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won.” Contact: