How to Deal with Rejection in a Job Search

No one – absolutely no one – likes rejection. From playground days on, we want to be with the in-crowd and be accepted. No one wants to have someone say, “No, I don’t want you.” Sales people are trained to handle rejection because their companies know that they will face much of it.

Who coaches you on how to handle rejection in a job search?

In a job search, you often don’t have a professional sales manager or coach telling you that rejection will happen and so you take it all personally. You also make wrong assumptions. The assumption is that your résumé or cover letter is at fault. It could be but if you are one of the savvy job seekers who hired a qualified professional résumé writer and you are still getting the rejection letters, you can probably assume that it is not the résumé.

Competition has never been stiffer and though everyone coaches you on getting the right key words in your résumé to make sure you get to the interview phase, the truth is that you will not be “the One” if there are more highly qualified people even when you do have the right key words. Key words get you into the pool but if you are up against someone with solid experience in a field that you are just now graduating in, it will be more difficult. It will be even more difficult if you are applying only to the biggest organizations out there.

When a large organization is popular and they only need to hire one “Specialist” and they get 200-500 applicants, your online application may get the dreaded rejection letter.

What should you do to avoid job search rejection?

Let’s start with the job search process.

  1. Again, I am assuming you have a value-filled strategic résumé. If you don’t, go back to hire a professional résumé writer who can deliver an accomplishment-driven résumé to showcase your talents.
  2. Then… Don’t make all your applications the “point and click” variety. Although companies increasingly want you to apply online, there are still smaller organizations who don’t work that way. Find companies you want to work for and find ways of connecting with them.
  3. Employing a networking strategy in your job search is critical. I think many people either avoid networking or don’t know that it is an essential part of job search and life in general. A healthy network should follow you throughout your career. You can’t avoid rejection but you can minimize it by creating in-roads that keep you in the know about upcoming positions before they are advertised.

You want to be hired by a large healthcare organization

If they have an active open volunteer organization, start there. Get involved and make a difference. You can’t join just to join. I have seen plenty of people who joined an organization just to put it on their résumé but there really is little benefit there. What can be beneficial is starting to work in the place you want to work and provide the-over-the-top volunteer service that gets you noticed. If they need someone to organize an event and you are skilled at event management, do the best job imaginable. If they need someone to provide patient care and you can help by being available to transport, hold babies, or comfort the sick, do your best. You do your best because you want to, not because of the potential reward of a job, but if you sit home watching TV, no one in the TV set will call and offer you a new job, so you are better out there in the community making a difference.

How do you handle rejection in the job search?

  1. You accept that it is part of the process and you don’t let the rejection get to you.
  2. You fill your time with productive and proactive activities and networking.
  3. You study the job market from the hidden job market perspective, looking for the opportunities before they are advertised.

Rejection will always hurt but you rise above it and keep going rather than let it hold you back.

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Julie Walraven

Julie Walraven is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer who owns Design Resumes and helps people find their perfect career marketing strategy. You can normally find her at


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