Managing Rejection for Career Success

Managing Rejection for Career Success

Building a career does not happen overnight. A career is cultivated over time, built through education, training, and experience. Your career is also influenced by your successes, failures, side-steps, stops, and renewals.

Most — if not all — of us have been rejected in our careers. At some point, you will face rejection, too. How you handle rejection shapes the future of your career.

Don’t allow one person’s opinion that you are not a match for a job or that you are not ready for a promotion topple your career plan. Not everyone will recognize your value. The important thing is that you assess yourself honestly and recognize the value that you do offer.

5-Step Evaluation and Recovery Process

Sometimes, we receive valuable feedback from unpleasant situations, like losing out on a promotion, not landing that job that is just perfect, or, even, being fired.

While these events can be very discouraging, they can simply be bad luck or bad timing. Or useful information — avoid that person, that employer, or that specific situation.

1. Scrutinize the Feedback

If one recruiter says that you are not able to make a transition to your new target occupation, that does not mean you should abandon your plan.

Also, remember that you will not connect with everyone. One recruiter or hiring manager may not see your value, yet five others will be singing your praises.

When rejected, scrutinize the feedback. Toss outliers, and consider the source. A single rejection is merely a mismatched opportunity. It is not a reason to quit.

2. Evaluate Yourself and the Situation

Review the requirements for your target career by reviewing job postings. Access industry resources and connections to define a profile of successful individuals in that target position. Compare that to your skills and experience.

Identify gaps, as well as information that defines your strong candidacy. What does your analysis reveal? Are you on the right track for this target career?

Often, rejection has nothing to do with you. Management changes. Priorities and budgets are modified, sometimes very abruptly, and economic factors can greatly impact decision making. None of these are a reflection on you or your abilities.

3. Check Other Sources

Surround yourself with positive and supportive colleagues. Just like a gym buddy, it helps to have like-minded career-focused individuals with you along your career journey.

Test your analysis with them. We are often too self-critical and accepting of negative feedback. Someone else’s perspective can be enlightening.

4. Fortify Yourself

Based on your analysis, are you an excellent match for your target job? A plan for continuous improvement is always a wise idea.

Determine ways that you can enhance your skills and build new experiences to elevate yourself. You want to rise above the competition. Preparation is a key component of identifying and building your skills.

5. Keep on Course

Don’t waste time re-reading rejection emails or replaying an interview in your mind. Follow the above steps, accept the lessons learned, and continue along the path to achieving your career goals.

The Bottom Line

Rejection is part of life, especially in your professional life. Learn how to accept and process rejection so you can keep moving forward to your goal. Evaluate your goal, assess your skills, and continuously sharpen your skills. Your ongoing preparation will ensure that you are ready for the next opportunity and help boost your confidence as you move forward.

More About Managing Rejection

Debra WheatmanAbout the author…

Debra Wheatman is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). She is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques with more than 18 years’ corporate human resource experience. Debra has been featured on Fox Business News, WNYW with Brian Lehrer, and quoted in leading publications, including, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. Debra may be reached at [email protected], or you may visit her website at
More about this author

Don't forget to share this article with friends!