Dealing with Failure and Rejection

Whether you are trying to start your career or progressing through one already, it is almost guaranteed that you will encounter failure and rejection along the way. Although these two words (failure and rejection) usually have a negative connotation, a change in mindset can turn these minor setbacks into positive learning experiences.

According to, there are three reasons why failure in the job search is a good thing:

  1. Failure is a brutal teacher
  2. A brand-new opportunity
  3. A better victory

A positive twist on a negative experience (failure) is that it can teach us things about ourselves, which ultimately makes us stronger. An example of this is doing poorly in a job interview. When reflecting on the experience, you can make changes to your approach to future interviews for a different end-result (getting hired). The silver lining might be that although you thought the job you were interviewing for was going to be the perfect fit, a better opportunity is in the works. Failing at something, in this case a job interview, is not the end of the world. Although you may be disappointed in yourself or that the opportunity did not work out this experience can lead to growth, redirection and future success.

Although I wish that after reading these three reasons why failure is a good thing you would be convinced, the fact of the matter is that you were still rejected. This can be a difficult thing to cope with, but after reading an article by Kat Boogard on The Muse, a key takeaway can be found in this quote: “Rejection might never get easier, but you do get better at dealing with it.”

Whether it is not getting the job you really wanted or not getting a promotion within your current company, that rejection definitely hurts. However, the true test is how you deal with that discouragement that will define your future approach and make you never want to feel that way again.

Our friends over at offer some advice for job seekers to take if you did not get a job offer, promotion, etc. By refocusing the disappointment from not getting the job and learning from the rejection these four steps will help you bounce back quicker.

Confront Your Feelings and Move On

Initially, learning that you were not selected in the job search process is a hard pill to swallow. You might have prepared for the interview for hours upon end and researched every individual in the company, but it ultimately did not work in your favor. The feeling of disappointment is a natural reaction. The key to handling this is to take your time to heal, but out of the public eye. It is okay to express your feelings to those close to you, but venting on social media should be avoided as to not sabotage any future opportunities (with the company or elsewhere). Once you have confronted your feelings, make it a point to move forward.

Let Yourself Off the Hook

Similar to the above, dwelling on the situation will not make it any better for you. Once you confront your feelings, it is key to accept what you cannot control. Often times, getting an interview with a company is a numbers game. By getting an interview, you already beat the odds and numerous other candidates. Although you might not get the offer as you hoped, you should not feel like a failure (easier said than done).

Consider How to Improve

Each interview, whether positive or negative, is a learning experience. If you do not get a job, reaching out to the person you interviewed with for some feedback is a way to get some advice on what to improve upon. If you only asked a few questions, think about a few more that you can ask in the future.

Reinforce Your Goals

In my own life, when reflecting upon interviews and sharing my experience with those close to me, a piece of advice I have heard is that not only is the company interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing the company. You can do as much research online as you want, but until you get in front of the individuals you will be working with it is hard to know whether or not you will actually enjoy and fit in with the company culture. Sending thank you letters after your interview is an underrated gesture that can go a long way. By maintaining a relationship with a company, if it has any future openings, you might be at the front of the hiring manager’s mind. In the job hunt, relationships are key as they can open doors that you might have previously thought were closed. If you really want to work for the company that turned you down, set out to improve so that they cannot turn you away again.

Wrap Up

The job search and interviewing process is just that – a process. Although it can be demoralizing at times, it is key to remember that it takes time and various factors come into play including timing and fit among others. One of the best pieces of advice given to me throughout my own job search is “who you know opens the door, what you know gets you the job and who you are determines how far you go.” The underlying themes of this phrase are the importance of networking and building relationships, maintaining high character and being confident in your skills. Although this advice is relevant to the job search, it is applicable to other aspects of your life as well.

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