Based on the expertise of Christina Schmidt, Associate Director of Business Marketing – Kelley Graduate Career Services
Clichés like, “It’ll all work out”, or “Everything happens for a reason” are a whole lot easier to say than to hear, aren’t they? But at some point or another, failure is inevitable, and you won’t get exactly what you had hoped for. The supportive, caring people in your life will listen, sympathize, and then throw out something along those lines intending to cheer you up. Often those phrases can have the opposite intended effect, but don’t let a bitter reaction tarnish the truth in those words. Remember, you always have a choice – even when those choices aren’t about which job opportunity to pursue. When your only choice is how you’ll respond, consider the following before reacting.
You’ve built a network. This is extremely valuable, so work to maintain it. Maybe there was someone just *slightly* more qualified for that job. But what about your dream job they’re just about to post? Chances are, employees have inside knowledge of roles coming open before everyone else. By working to maintain your network, your internal contact might be able to 1) tell you about the position before it’s made public, or 2) say they know someone who would be a great match for the role.
It’s a chance to improve. Around Kelley, we call this an after action review: figuring out what went right and what went wrong. The key to this one is honesty. You have to be honest with yourself or whomever you’re talking to about why you truly didn’t get the job. There are a million and one excuses in the book. Don’t be someone who makes excuses. Be someone who takes responsibility for what happened and takes action to never let it happen again.
Use the opportunity to take a break. Sometimes we can get so focused on the job we applied for that stepping back from the situation to get yourself in the right frame of mind will do much more for you than hours of interview prep ever could. What’s your favorite escape from reality? Listening to a TED talk, working out, reading a book? The important thing to realize is it’s only a break. Don’t quit. When you’re ready, come up with a plan of action in how you’re going to move on. Don’t go it alone, either – this is a great time to bring in a coach, industry professional, or mentor you trust to bounce ideas off and hold you accountable.
Rejection’s never easy, but don’t let missing out on one opportunity lead to squandering two. By using rejection to fuel your progress, you’ll end up in a place better than you ever imagined!