how to handle rejection

How to Handle Rejection

How to Handle Rejection

Not getting the gig is a fact of life, but how you handle it makes all the difference moving forward.

How to Handle Rejection in the Workplace:

Knowing it’s not the end of the world is the first step.

We have all been there right?  You find your dream job on an employment site and you go for it!  Maybe you weren’t 100% qualified for the gig, but you meet the 75% standard and you really feel this could be the job for you.

Recently I went through the same thing.  I applied for a major upgrade in my career, only to finally get the letter saying I would not be interviewed for the position.

I took a day to stew a bit and then did some post-op reflection on what might have gone wrong.  I met all of the qualifications save for one:  I wasn’t part of the ‘network’ in that particular field.  It is a fairly tightly knit group of folks that work in this niche of my career field, but I was disappointed a bit nonetheless.

So what could I do?  I am completely happy with my current job, so staying put isn’t a bad thing at all, but I’m always looking forward.

I could try to rationalize things and say that the ‘good ol’ boy’ network bit me again.  But I don’t believe that to be true in this case.  At any rate, some serious reflection on how to handle rejection was definitely in order.  In this article I will go over a few things that help to move towards the future.

how to handle rejection

Feel sorry for yourself (for a short time)

Why not, right?  If you truly had your heart set on a particular job, then a bit of ‘pity party’ time is definitely in order!

Grab a bottle of your favorite wine, order some pizza and binge on your favorite TV show for an evening.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit down when you find out that your dream job isn’t happening.  And to be honest, you’ve only been told that it won’t be happening yet.

Maybe pizza and drinks aren’t your thing; spend an evening working out, have an extended phone conversation with a good friend, immerse yourself in a book.  Either option is good just to take your mind off of what just happened.

Getting that rejection letter is always a hard blow to deal with, so forget about it for a while.


When you get bad news in the form of a job rejection letter, it’s okay to dwell on it for a day or two.  This can be the motivation to move you towards greater things!

Understand what went wrong:

Now is the time to be a realist about the situation.  You may have been 75% there as far as meeting the qualification for the job, but others might have been fully qualified.  If so, then the employer might have factored this in when deciding on who to tap for the gig.

When I interview people for opportunity in my office, I look at more than just the job description and whether or not the candidate meets the qualifications fully.  But I can’t completely discount when someone is head and shoulders above others in that regard.

If you feel the reason you didn’t get the nod is because you didn’t meet the qualifications to the letter, then it’s time to do some investing in yourself!  In fact, I wrote about the importance of investing in yourself earlier on this site.

If your skill-set doesn’t make the grade, make sure it never happens again.  If you can circle back to the prospective employer and find out exactly what changes or improvements you can make  moving forward, you might be surprised at the great information you get.

Take an inventory of what you do well:

When you get rejected for a job opening, it can cause a bit of self-doubt.  Don’t dwell on this for long or it can surely spiral.  Take a good look at what it is you are good at, and what you can offer a future employer.

Once you have a list of all of your skills and accomplishments, you might discover that the particular gig you didn’t get was never the right job for you in the first place.

This could then lead you to search for your next move with much finer precision.  There is nothing quite as powerful as knowing exactly what you can offer to a prospective employer.  This will give you much greater confidence going forward.

Lean on your support:

I know for in my case, nothing beats having a sounding board or a confidant with whom I can talk things through when the going gets tough.

In my case, it’s my husband who has to hear my complaints and concerns when it comes to my career.  He has always shown the greatest support when it comes to any decision I make in my career.

Your support base is your greatest strength in so much more than simply career decisions.  They can offer insight and other points of view that you may not have noticed, and can be a sounding board and brainstorming partner.

My husband is much more than a simple ‘yes man’ when it comes to hearing me out.  He offers advice, and injects much needed levity when I take things too hard.

Find your closest support members and have a frank discussion on where you stand and where you want to be.  They have more to offer than you may think!

Moving on:

As with anything in life, the best way to deal with disappointment is to finally move on.

If you have been rejected while applying for a new gig recently, I hope you are at least comfortable in your current position.  When I got my rejection notice, one of the greatest joys I had was seeing my team at work the next day.  I love what I do, as well as who I work with.

Perhaps in the end, not getting the job I was working so hard to get was a blessing in disguise.  Only time will tell if this is the case or not, but for the time being I choose to be happy where I am.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Have you put your heart and soul recently into landing that perfect job only to be turned down in the end?  It’s not the end of the world of course, but it can hurt and cause self-doubt in the short term.

Don’t let it dictate how you decide to view yourself going forward.  Instead use it as a motivating factor to better yourself and your situation.

Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly!

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Written by Heather


Heather graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BSEE. Later, she received her MBA. As a mother of four wonderful children, she has found a way to balance her career with her role as Mom. After becoming director of engineering for a global engineering firm, she decided to start her own company. She is CEO of Select Power Systems, LLC.

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