One thing is for certain, we’ll all be rejected for a job at some point in our lives. It’s how we deal with the disappointment that’s important. Disappointment is an uncomfortable emotion and can be difficult to deal with. Here guest blogger Dr Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena explains how, by thinking differently, you can use these experiences to build career resilience, focus on your core strengths, and develop a stronger sense of self.

Treat every interview as a learning experience

Naturally, interviews or assessments can be nerve wracking and anxiety provoking. As a way of minimising the pressure or anxiety you might feel, it can be useful to reframe the experience as one where you get to learn more about yourself, and about your potential employer.

Every rejection is not a personal attack on you

Neither is ‘rejection’ feedback. Often when we don’t get the job we want, there is a temptation to couch it in personal attacks eg. ‘I have failed’, ‘I must have done something wrong’. But often, a rejection is about other unseen factors. Employers weigh in on many considerations when recruiting and many of these are not in your control.

Experience and manage emotion

It’s okay to feel upset, disappointed or sad about not getting a job. To try and deflect that emotion would be unhelpful. Feel your emotions, because you are human, but try not to let them escalate into a form of self criticism, or become the lens through which you view your whole experience.

Look at the bigger picture; gain perspective

Take a step back, what did you learn from this experience? Is your assessment of the situation a fair one? Try not to engage in judgmental or self critical talk, or project feelings and thoughts about this experience to the rest of your life. Try not to carry around past experience ‘baggage’ into your present and future endeavours.

Refocus

After allowing yourself some room to grieve and breathe, re-evaluate and refocus. Is there anything you can do to help you improve your prospects? In learning from your experience, what would you like to strengthen? Where would you like to focus your energy now?

Focus on your strengths

Often when we are disappointed, we are more likely to focus on what we feel we don’t have, or what has not happened, rather than highlighting our strengths and qualities. You may not have secured the role this time round, but that does not take away from your intelligence, humour and quirkiness. Celebrate those, and reframe your view of yourself. It is also useful to focus on this when going into an interview situation – take in your best you!

Normalise the process

You are certainly not alone in the feeling of disappointment – many have experienced this, and many more will. You are in no way an anomaly for not getting a role, or receiving the grade you wanted. Try not to be unfairly harsh on yourself.

Gain sources of validation and self esteem from other areas of your life

Building resilience is also about gaining a sense of self and confidence from multiple areas – your hobbies, your interests, the people you interact and socialise with. Try not to let your job prospects/role become the only source of validation as this leads to an imbalance which can be fragile and leave you feeling vulnerable.

Further sources of help

If you’re finding it difficult to manage disappointment and stress or want help, LSE Careers and the Student Counselling Service are running two Q&A sessions offering advice for managing feelings of disappointment as well as tips to be ‘results resilient’ and turning your situation into a positive. You can book online via LSE CareerHub. The Student Counselling Service also offers individual and group training sessions.

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