No matter how many times people tell you that you’re special, that you’re too good for them at that job, that ‘I’d hire you!’, having your job application rejected is crushing. When you’re applying for a job, you mentally put yourself in that role to decide whether or not it’s for you. From there it’s cover-letters and a CV polish and face-to-face interviews, trying all the way to decide what the company wants and how you can become it. It’s a contortion act – and when you’ve strained your back and twisted your ankle and pulled a muscle in your neck from all that vigorous nodding; to get rejected leaves you on the floor.
1. Take a Day
Cry. I’m giving you permission. Punch a pillow. Turn up Beck’s ‘Loser’ (I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me, that one) and sing along as loud as you can without annoying the neighbours (or annoy them if you like, but make a note to apologise later – they’ll understand because they’ve been rejected before, too). Binge watch TV and put three frozen pizzas in the oven (you can’t afford Domino’s).
But for goodness sake, only do it for one day.
2. Pick Yourself Up
Set an alarm, make some strong coffee and sit back down in front of your computer. Email the company and ask for some feedback (you can do this even if you haven’t had a face-to-face interview). This is a win-win.
Win 1: If they give you a list of reasons, a few pointers, some advice for improved interview skills – fantastic. You won’t make those mistakes again – moreover – you’re now going to be aware of these weak spots and be able to give them the time and attention they need to be turned into skills.
Win 2: If the response you get is that you just weren’t the best suited for the job then that’s great, too. Nobody wants a job they’re not suited to – and nobody wants a boss who also thinks that.
3. Dust Yourself Off
The Japanese have an art form called Kintsugi. It involves putting back together broken pottery and painting the cracks with gold lacquer. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as something beautiful, something admirable and individually unique. Being broken isn’t something to be ashamed of – quite the contrary – it’s an opportunity for a whole new creation.
Look at your weaknesses and see if you can find a way to make them work for you. For example if you’re shy, anxious, lacking in confidence; sell yourself as an introvert. If you feel like you’re an outsider then sell yourself as one. You have an outsider’s point of view, your constant seat on the fence has given you the observational skills of a hawk. You know what needs to happen – and they need to know that.
4. Start All Over Again
So, you’re back on your feet (however wobbly). Wonderful. What’s next?
Write a to-do list and (this is the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given) make the first thing on the list ‘write to-do list’. That way by the end of the list, you’re already one task down with one big fat tick.
There are thousands of advice articles out there from people who know what they’re talking about on how to improve your professional profile. Look them up, look lots up, get some ideas, and work on your next approach. View this as a fresh slate, a new and exciting opportunity to once again start the journey to where you want to be.
At the end of the day, the more times you write a cover letter, the better writer you’ll be. The more times you’re interviewed, the better you’ll be at professional interaction.
And the more times you pick yourself up off of the floor – the stronger and more future-proof you’re bound to become.