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Career Corner
Rebound from Rejection

Selena Dehne -- Face it: Rejection is just a part of life. Whether it's in a personal relationship or during a job search process, there are ways people should -- and should not -- behave. Here's how to cope with distressing times in the job search.

Jilted exes are notorious for a few post-breakup reactions: sobbing for hours on end, shredding pictures, spitefully spilling secrets and rumors about their ex, and swearing off the dating game entirely.

Many respond to job search rejection much the same way. Whether they're ripping rejection letters into teeny tiny pieces, vowing never to job search again, or insulting a company that didn't want them, job seekers can share a lot of similarities with heartbroken singles.

According to Shawn Graham, co-author of Courting Your Career (JIST ©2008), many of the ways people should -- and shouldn't -- behave in the dating game apply to how one should conduct a savvy job search. Rebounding from rejection is no different.

"During your job search, rejection is practically inevitable. In this situation, the last thing you want to do is beg for another chance, lash out and tell the recruiter he or she is making a big mistake, or promise that you can change. This strategy doesn't work when you get dumped by someone you're dating, and it definitely won't work when you're rejected by an employer," says Graham.

Don't take it personally.

A rejection can immediately spark feelings of self-blame. Questions such as, "What's wrong with me, why don't they think I'm good enough for the job, or was it something I said," may be just a few of the things job seekers ask themselves to make sense of the situation. Remember, just like the dating game, sometimes not landing a job offer really has nothing to do at all to do with the candidate.

For example, a job seeker may have been stellar throughout each round of interviews and made a lasting impression on hiring managers. Because the organization pressured the manager to promote an internal employee, however, the stellar job seeker was not offered a position.

"Any number of factors, including some that were in your control and some that weren't, could have played into the company's decision to pass you over in favor of somebody else," reminds Graham.

Get feedback on why you were rejected.

Had a dozen first round interviews and not a single second-round interview? Okay, by now there is a good chance you are doing something wrong. To find out what it is, job seekers should gather feedback from the organizations that reject them. It will take some courage to ask and it's dangerous to sound too pushy, but it's the best shot job seekers have at understanding how to make themselves more successful.

"The best way to ask for feedback is to distance yourself from the position for which you were turned down. Focus on the fact that you would like general feedback about how you can improve your candidacy for future opportunities," says Graham.

"When gathering feedback, sending an email is often more effective than calling first because it allows the person you're contacting to gather his or her thoughts before speaking with you over the phone."

Don't be surprised to find many employers will be reluctant to disclose information about the interview performance. Everything from privacy policies and possible lawsuits to time constraints and fear of a confrontation could keep job seekers in the dark about where they went wrong.

"But it doesn't hurt to try," reminds Graham.

Build a support network.

Being rejected is never easy, but it doesn't have to be a heart-wrenching experience either. To cope with distressing times in the job search, it's helpful to have a built-in support system made up of friends, family members, mentors, or a career coach. These people can lend the invaluable advice, encouragement, and additional perspective job seekers need to fuel their job search with positive energy.

"Remember, just as in the world of dating, there are always other fish in the sea. If things don't work out with one job, there are definitely going to be other opportunities. The more you're able to stay positive and gather feedback from those who didn't make you an offer, the greater your chances of landing a job," says Graham.

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. Her articles help people find meaningful work, develop their career and life plans, and carry out effective job search campaigns.

© 2007 Selena Dehne

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