How to move on after you’ve been rejected for a job
Use these steps to process your emotions, learn from the experience, and get back out there.
Getting rejected is the worst. No matter how hard you network, research employers, or prepare for job interviews, sometimes you just don’t get the job you’re chasing. It may not be a reflection on you—and that can be frustrating to hear, especially when you’ve worked your butt off to get that far in the process.
Before you throw yourself a full-blown pity party or lose your voice screaming expletives, here’s the truth you need to accept: Dealing with rejection doesn’t have to tank your morale or derail your job search. In fact, rejection can actually help you get a job—that is, if you take the time to learn from it.
Don’t take it personally
Keep things in perspective. The fact is, you’re not going to land every job you apply for. When you’re faced with a “no,” take time to process your emotions. You may feel stunned or frustrated by your first rejection. When a few more no’s roll in, you’ll likely see red. This is completely natural—it’s hard not to see the rejection as an attack on your awesomeness. But it really and truly isn’t.
“Anger usually results from being hurt or experiencing a threat to one’s self-esteem,” says Lisa Kappesser, executive coach and author of The Smart New Way to Get Hired: Use Emotional Intelligence and Land the Right Job.
Venting can be therapeutic—when done in an effective way. Instead of breaking down or taking your anger out on the nearest potted plant, talk it out with a friend (someone who's not a co-worker). Then give yourself time to chill out. Consider exercising, listening to music, journaling, or treating yourself to a massage—something to help you blow off the steam so it doesn’t get bottled up inside. Tempering your emotions will help you move forward more constructively.
Ask for feedback
Some hiring managers will tell you why you didn’t get the job, but others won’t. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to ask why you weren’t chosen. There may have been forces outside your control. For example, the company might have decided to promote someone internally, or maybe they lost the budget for that position.
On the flipside, there could be a good reason why you were overlooked. If your skills didn’t meet the requirements, that’s something to keep in mind when applying to future jobs. Or, maybe you didn’t seem like a good cultural fit. It’s better to know these reasons than to ignore them.
Simply asking for feedback also shows a hiring manager that you care about the company, which can help you get a job there down the road. Pro tip: Be specific when making your request (e.g., “I’d greatly appreciate it if you could tell me how I can improve my interview skills”), and always follow up with a thank-you note.
Be useful to others
Volunteering doesn’t just help your favorite charity, it’s also a great way to rebuild your confidence, expand your skill set, and work with others. Walk some shelter dogs, prepare meals at a soup kitchen, help out in a community garden—whatever motivates you.
Unlike picking up a side hustle, volunteering helps you “see how much you have to offer and how much more you are valued as a human being versus as a worker performing a certain job title,” says career coach Dennis Grindle. Moreover, you’ll be doing productive work that’s fulfilling, while adding depth to your resume.
Work your network
Though talking to more people may make you feel like you’re simply inviting more rejections, refreshing your professional network can help reignite your passion for the work that you do. Tell your contacts the kind of jobs you’re interested in, and ask for recommendations as to what companies you should check out. You might find—wait for it—that people actually want to help you.
Keep up the search
Don’t let your frustration from rejection disrupt your commitment to finding a job. The sooner you get back in the game, the sooner you’ll find a new job that you love. Could you use some help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to different types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. In addition, you can get job alerts sent right to your inbox, so you can be among the first to apply when positions become available. Let Monster take some of the weight off your shoulders and help you get hired.