Getting Rejected Sucks. Here’s How to Deal.


As your job search gets rolling, sooner or later you will probably have to deal with it. Sometimes it comes in the form of an email or a phone call, but more often than not, it will be a big, fat, seemingly interminable period of absolutely nothing.

The 2013 AfterCollege Job-Seeker Survey asked students what the most frustrating part of the job search was, and 50.9% said that they never hear back from a company after sending their résumé. An additional 16.1% said they never heard back after an interview. So how can you deal with this rejection (or in some cases radio silence)?

You have a few options, which we’ve outlined below.

1. Just keep applying to things.

Yes, we know that you feel like you just can’t go on after that “so so so perfect” position was given to someone else, but we’re here to tell you that you can! It’s the same as anything else. The more you do it, the more you’ll improve your technique.

So how can you do that? Everyone tells you to make sure your résumé and cover letter are tailored to the specific position you’re applying for, and we agree. But what exactly does that mean? Check out our résumé and cover letter teardowns to get some real-life examples.

2. Change your approach.

If you’ve been limiting your search to one city or field, consider broadening it to include a wider geographic area or industry. Use AfterCollege’s Explore feature to find jobs, companies, and locations that you might not have considered otherwise.

You’ve already heard that the majority of jobs are found through personal connections, right? If you haven’t already, put the word out there among family and friends that you’re in the market. And don’t be afraid to attend a networking event. We know they can be scary, which is why we created this guide to non-awkward networking just for you.

Spend some time thinking about your previous studies, travels, internships, hobbies, volunteer work. What jobs might allow you to use and develop skills you already have?

Want more help figuring out how to do this? Read about how Megan used rejection in the publishing industry to find her dream job in a library, Marie discovered her passion by trying out as many jobs as she possibly could, and other people seek low-commitment job opportunities. Or consider channeling the Godfather and using “pain-spotting” as a job search technique and increase your chances of getting noticed.

3. Reflect on what you’ve learned so far.

Did you get fired or have an otherwise negative experience? Don’t let it get you down. In fact, use it as an opportunity to think about what’s really important to you. Maybe you realized that you don’t do well in large companies or you’re not cut out for customer service or that you need to work in a place where you believe in the mission and values.

Use this self-reflection to guide your job search. You’ll probably find that you have better results if you target companies that align with your personal values and needs. If you’re still not convinced, read about Stephen Ma and how getting fired from an internship was actually the best thing that happened to him in his job search.

4. Consider applying for an internship.

If you’re a recent or soon-to-be grad, you might be thinking, “I’m too old to be an intern.” But here’s the thing. That’s not necessarily the case. If you don’t believe me, listen to Melissa Nguyen, who took an internship a few years after college and is thankful she did.

If you are still in the early stages of job exploration or you’d like to try something in a different city or industry, an internship can be a low-stakes way to test the waters without fully committing. Just remember that the numbers seem to indicate that unpaid internships don’t really improve your chances of getting a job, so keep your eyes peeled for those paid opportunities.

5. Take a little humor break.

Hey! At least you didn’t receive one of these “10 Funniest Rejection Letters.” You might want to consider responding with a rejection letter of your own.

Or, get your gif on at Reasons Why I Don’t Have a Job and Gif Me a Job.

Just remember, there’s not necessarily a wrong choice, except the choice to give up altogether and just hope that a job will just magically land in your lap. (The closest thing to that is checking out AfterCollege’s digest of recommended jobs for you. We’ll give you some ideas, but you still need to actually apply to the jobs yourself.)

P.S. Do you have a technique for dealing with rejection that we haven’t covered here? Let us know in the comments!


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