How to Cope With Job Rejection...for real people...

Hey all the single Blog-yoncés out there,

Today I am writing about a very serious matter: REJECTION.  More specifically, rejection from that job you always wanted, the job you desperately needed to pay your rent and buy your food, or that job that was supposed to be your gateway out of your current life-draining employment situation....

Now, a good friend of mine recently experienced the crushing blow of rejection and so, out of curiosity and obsession with the interwebs, I googled "how to cope with job rejection."  I am not sure what I expected to find, but what I found was a plethora of career counselors and executive coaches eager to lift you out of your post-rejection depression with inspiring proverbs and sympathetic stories of personal triumph.

For example, in an article boasting 10 ways to cope with job rejection, the personal career coach expounds upon the following suggestions:

#1 Don't take it personally
#8 Accept responsibility:Don't blame others
#10 Stretch yourself!

Okay #1, even if you know you shouldn't take something personally, sometimes a bruised ego just can't be prevented, and no amount of self-talk is going to shield you from the blow.  #8 is simply incorrect because it is absolutely and completely the hiring committee's fault for not hiring you.  Period.  And #10 is just dumb.  She actually suggests literally going to the gym and stretching your interview-weary muscles.  She then tells you to find a place in your life where you can "go to the edge" and be extreme.  I personally don't think that base-jumping off the nearest high-rise is going to lift you from the throes of dejection (although hang-gliding might...)

Another blog post starts off with, "much like love, getting a job is about making a good match."  So...he is basically saying that being rejected by this employer is just like being rejected by that guy or girl you had a crush on all your life (Bryce Hunt, I still love you).  Thanks, now you can bask in the memory of that rejection too.....encouragement FAIL.

The main problem with the articles I found on the internet is that they all include some sort of story about how they eventually found the job that they wanted.  That is GREAT...for them, but what about you?  You are still unemployed, stuck at that dead end job, or left dumbfounded that they choose her over you!!!!  They are writing from a place that is far removed from the rejection, but in those first few hours after being rejected, you've got to have a different coping strategy.

So if you just found out that your potential new employer is going in a different direction, try these simple steps:

1.  Curse and swear like you've never done before.  Make sure small children and your grandmother are out of earshot, then let 'er rip.  If it doesn't help at first, try out those really nasty swear words that you aren't really sure the meaning of, but you've heard on movies and HBO original series.

2.  Next, you've got to have a physical outlet.  If you have to drive home after receiving the call, take a moment before you start the car to pound on the steering wheel with both fists.  If you accidentally hit the horn and it beeps very loudly, don't even worry about it.  I mean, you don't give a *?#! you just got rejected.  Hit the wheel once very hard out of rage, then several more times out of exasperation until you collapse.

3.  Bawl your eyes out.  I sometimes start this step during step #2.

4.  Vent to your friends.  The best of friends will repeat steps 1 and 2 with you, and the worst of friends will tell you not to take it personally.

5.  Secretly fantasize about all the ways the newly hired candidate could possibly screw up really badly at their new job, sending their employer into a fit of regret and remorse for not having hired you.  When you are finished, remind yourself that you are better than that and stop.

6.  When you are good and ready, get back on the horse and apply for another job.  If you just can't muster up the energy to compose another self aggrandizing cover letter, than pick up an application to subway and fill it out.  Sometimes it helps to feel like you are moving on.  Even if you aren't, you really are.  Oh yeah, and always carry a HUGE binder with you at interviews...it's super impressive.

Okay, so....hopefully this was somewhat helpful to those of you who were recently rejected from a job and are looking for a break from all those career blogs written by people who get paid to write blogs in their pajamas.

I'll share a more uplifting post soon.



  1. Yea! Job Rejection! Hi. My name is Sara. I just had my first major job rejection. I am currently between steps 4 & 5 of your effective coping strategies. Steps 1,2 and 3 were all very effective.

  2. Sorry to hear about your rejection, but glad I could offer some solace...good luck on your next endeavor!

  3. I just read the same advice posting (#10, Stretch Yourself!) and I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought the author was not exactly helpful. I've been laid off for a year and have been rejected at least 10 times (I have one of those "niche/specialty" white collar jobs). I can't even get a P/T mall job because I don't have retail experience. I go on interviews--sometimes I get a second interview--but can't seem to "close the deal" as a pretty insensitive person said to me. My self-esteem is definitely taking a beating...at least I got a chuckle out of your column. Hasn't been much lately to smile about.

  4. I realize this comes a bit late, but I had to chime in. I totally loved this; finally a clue about how real people think instead of all that official attitude pablum I read elsewhere.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I have been doing through your steps a couple of times. It made me feel SO much better.

  6. Dejected & HopelessOctober 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Thanks for posting this. I have recently faced a string of consistent rejection and it has taking a beating on my self-esteem and confidence. I've been trying not to personalize it but it's so hard not to when I know the hiring decisions are based on "fit" and "personality." I've made it to second round interviews and nothing. I feel like I've improved my interview skills and have done internships in the last year and still nothing. Trying not to get too depressed. Been crying on and off for the past two days but I will move on. Thanks for letting me vent...lol.

  7. So yesterday, I graduated from uni. After six long long years, of many tears , heartache, essays and group work. Today, I got rejected from a job. Way to bring a girl down. It wasn't necessarily a job that I absolutely, definitely, wanted, but still a day after graduating, I didn't want to be rejected. Cause that is just shitty timing. I love your steps, my problem is, I am living with my mum (until I can get that elusive job) and she is one of those, "don't take it personally, something will come along" people, and its driving me mad.

    The other "sage" piece of wisdom she gives me is not to compare myself to others, and quite frankly, that is pretty hard when some of the girls in my same class have been offered multiple jobs, and are turning them down. And quite frankly, they don't deserve it, they don't work hard, and they aren't very good at their professions (I know because I did prac with them).

    Sometimes life is shit. Especially when its got timing like this. And I so wish I didn't have to live with my mother who's telling me "it will all be ok". Cause right now, its not. And its shit.

    Obviously, I am venting. Sorry, and thankyou for giving me the space. I think I might go have a cry now, in my bedroom, with the door shut, so my mother doesn't come in.

    1. I feel the same ways shit rejection. Im so desperate for that job. Kill 'em all!

  8. Just been for an interview, and thought I'd be the eternal pessimist and check out how to cope with rejection before I get the call.
    I'll no doubt be working my way through the swearing and steering wheel beating on Thursday. This makes me sound like a wimp but I really don't want to receive the rejection call while at work with a few hours until home time. Anyway thanks for giving me some coping tips and I Hope the rest of your blog readers have found their dream job.

  9. I've been unemployed now for 2+ months....I lost my previous job of 5+ years because a new management company was brought in to run the business and, after using me to help in the transition, dumped me and told me it was NOT performance-based, that I was "too expensive". So I've been busting my ass looking for work, have sent out almost 100 resumes and this past week finally, FINALLY, got not one, but two interviews for jobs I thought were a great fit. Of the two, the one I really wanted paid almost 40k more than the other....I had a telephone interview and then a 90-minute in person interview this past weekend with the company COO, the big cheese. And just moments ago, I got an email from his assistant telling me I was being 'discontinued as a candidate". So I'm sitting here googling "how to handle job rejection" and came across this blog (after reading several of the other articles it laughingly references) and so now I'm writing to vent. Pressure's on, money's running out, I was a great fit for this company and I'm now 'discontinued'? Bunch of f**kheads.

  10. Hi Carrie and other blog readers,

    Thank you for posting this. I just got rejected for my dream job, and I'm terribly disappointed. Now I just don't know what I want for my future. I was also searching the internet to find out how to cope with this. I couldn't agree more about those stupid suggestions from career coaches, because I AM taking it personal and the last thing I want to do after crying my eyes out is going to gym lol.. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only one dealing with this.

  11. Best Advice Yet!

  12. This is awesome. Couldn't agree more about the sense of detachment in other articles on the same topic. Like other people who left comments here, I just got rejected from a job today and went googling on the issue. This article was the most encouraging by far.

  13. this is awesome it honestly made me feel better
    the articles are just stupid and honestly bizarre and unhuman...

    your advice is exactly what i needed to keep me going

  14. Ha! As with most of the previous comments, I very much appreciate this down-to-earth understanding of the emotions experienced after job- (or most) rejection & the natural responses associated with those feelings!! After a long health-battle, I was excited to re-enter the job field after having been given a clean bill of health! But now, after over a year of looking for work, losing unemployment insurance I was eligible & accepted for because my case was accidentally lost, & my savings long-gone due to mortgage, being rejected from the only interview I have even been called in for after this long year, and the organization I most dreamed of working for, broke my heart a little bit.. Just need ways to let it out and eventually get back that confidence!

  15. I get angry when I send the application; imaging that I'm going to get the rejection. I'm pretty good at step 1. I need to wait for the misses to leave to complete step 2 and onwards.

  16. Restructured from a well paid dream job, ideal environment and all that and I have received the highest number of NO - s in my life, including from 2-3 dream jobs.It is hard to not take it personally.Let alone the mourning for my great job, this is a constant blow to my self esteem. Have been applying all of the above, asked for feedback, got confirmation that it is not presentation. Got good resume, worked at those presentation skills. aWhat causes this blockage??? Am at the end of my rope. HELP brothers and sisters.

  17. Great article. My first rejection and Im so mad right now!

  18. Thank you for this article. All of the blather about "it'll get better" and "just hang in there" makes me want to "hang myself". Got rejected yesterday after investing approximately 30 hours over 6 weeks in 5 interviews, flying to another city, parking fees, cabs and most of all - time. I researched, practiced, prepared, etc. and they treated me as if I had a position at the end of it all, only to ding me three days later. Phonies. Twenty-two years of experience and having held the top position in my field and I was deemed not good enough for this place. I relocated to a new city for marriage and have been looking for a job for 9 months. Never in my career have I had such a hard time, and this is the first time I've ever gone through a grueling interview process and NOT been hired. It hurts, and it sucks and there's no way not to take it personally. Confidence completely destroyed and ready to give up. Swearing a blue streak helps.

  19. Add one more to the list.

    7. Have a couple of drinks and try to drown your sorrows

  20. Being able to secure your finances and remaining income should also be prioritized.

  21. Thank you so much for this article. You really come off as someone with genuine experience off getting job rejections, rather than someone who is completely clueless with the concept. I graduated from college two years ago with an IT degree. I was able to, fortunately enough, find a contract job before I graduated. But after it ended in September of 2013, I have been unable to find work in the degree I studied so hard for. I've been to so many different recruiters, put my application in to so many different jobs on so many different job search engines, all for nothing. Only very rarely do I ever get interviews, and when I do, although I usually get second interviews, I always get that absolutely soul crushing "Sorry, we decided to go with someone else. We will keep you in mind in the future if we have another position that fits your requirements though!" Yeah, bull**** you will. Are you really going to remember one random person in a stack of resumes 10 feet high? I really doubt it.

    What aggravates me the most is because, even though I always come to my interviews 10-15 minutes early, even though I am well dressed and well groomed, even though I ask plenty of questions that indicate I am truly interested in the position and want to bring my strengths in the company (and NOT ask questions about what the company can do for me), and even though I send out thank you emails, apparently that is never enough because I do not have any practical experience. Never mind the fact that I am applying for supposed ENTRY LEVEL jobs, you know, jobs for people who DO NOT HAVE EXPERIENCE! Even at the company I have worked at for seven fucking years wouldn't hire me for an IT position, twice (Talking about two separate times I went on an interview, not a first and then second interview situation)! That just really pisses me off big time. How the hell am I supposed to get experience in an industry if NOBODY WILL ****ING HIRE ME FOR EVEN AN ENTRY LEVEL POSITION! HELLO! Ever hear of this little concept called TRAINING!?

    *To be continued...

  22. But the real kick in the balls came about a year ago. My recruiter told me he had sent me in for a job posting at a great company that makes medical supplies. I was going to be a QA tester. "Sounds great!" I said. I get a call back from him with some amazing news, I had been hired! I was ecstatic. I gleefully drove down to the recruitment office, filled out all the paperwork, and awaited the day when I would be starting with the company. Then my recruiter told me that my start date had been delayed. "Ok, no problem, so long as I eventually start the job." I thought. Well, come a week later, I got a call from my recruiter telling me "Yeah, about that job, sorry, but they moved your position to Maryland. You no longer have the job." That just made a dent the size of Texas in my confidence that I would eventually find an IT job.

    So, fast forward another year and I still have not managed to get an IT job, despite all the resumes I have sent in weekly to as many entry level IT jobs I can find. At this point, I have pretty much given up. These hiring managers are ****ing ***holes who are taking advantage of the fact that the job market is currently a "buyer's market" sort of speak. Despite the fact that I worked my rear off in college, despite the fact that I could probably count on one hand the number of times I went out to enjoy myself each semester, despite the fact I graduated with high honors, despite the fact that one of my classes I had a project where I worked in a team to create a system in the same exact way a professional IT person would have done it, apparently all that is not good enough, because I do not have 50 years worth of experience in every last software program under the sun. You know what? When in another 30 years all the people with experience have retired, don't come crying to me that you can't find anyone with experience.

    *To be continued...

  23. Of course, my parents are giving me the usual infuriatingly annoying "Don't take it personally." pep talk. My mother especially annoys me, because when she went for a job interview after she decided she wanted to change from her current position, she landed the first job interview she got. She is completely ignorant of the concept of job rejection, yet she keeps trying to tell me "It was an omen that job wasn't for you!", "It will happen eventually!", and probably the most laughable piece of advice "I know what you are going through.". No, you really don't know what I am going through, because you have never been rejected from a job before. I really just want to yell at the top of my lungs at them to shut up.

    I guess what hurts the most is all that hard work and money going through college was essentially wasted. Yet, there are people in this world who get positions they are not qualified for at all, just because they happen to be someone's son or nephew. It really makes me feel like hard work and integrity are dead.

    Oh well, at least I can look forward to working at a dead end job, being verbally abused by jerks who think I'm an idiot just because I do not have a fancy job title and make $90,000 a year to push pencils, and making jokes with my fellow co-workers about how poor I am. Um, Yay?

    *BTW, sorry for the long rant, but I really needed to get this off my chest.