Overcoming rejection: The Two Poisons That Destroy Your Job Search Chances

The Two Poisons That Destroy Your Job Search Chances
There are two kinds of poison that can destroy someone’s job search,
both stemming from your reaction to rejection.
As most people know, the job search is filled with rejection. (In
Richard Nelson Bolles’s classic book, What Color is Your Parachute,
it’s described as “no no no no no no no no no no yes.” And in this
economy, there are probably ten times more no’s than that).
The poisons are two bad ways to deal with rejection:

1. It’s all my fault. People who have this reaction start to worry
that they must be underqualified, not attractive enough, not smart
enough, or not whatever else enough to get the job. They start
thinking that everyone else is better, and there’s no hope for them,
so they start giving up. Worse, they arrive at a job interview with a
desperate attitude, which reeks from their every pore. They almost
want to beg for the job, saying, “I know I’m not worthy, but please
give a chance anyway.” Employers (like blind dates, seeing someone who
has been rejected by all of their prior blind dates) tend to run in
the other direction when they see this coming, which they can see from
miles away.
2. It’s all their fault. People who have this reaction can’t imagine
that perhaps they might need to change something to be considered for
a job. Instead, the reason they’re not getting hired is purely because
of: the employers just don’t understand how truly great they are, the
employer is discriminating against their gender, looks, age, etc., or
the employer is stupid or unworthy or unethical in some other way.
Worse, they arrive at a job interview with a nasty, sarcastic and
angry attitude, which reeks from their every pore. They almost want to
scream at the employer, saying, “I know you won’t want me, I don’t
know why I’m wasting your time.” Employers (like blind dates, seeing
someone who just had a bad divorce) tend to run in the other
direction…

Neither reaction is useful, because neither allows they candidate to
do what is actually needed: to change into the kind of candidate an
employer actually wants to hire, who is enthusiastic about the job and
has a positive attitude. To achieve this change, it’s important to
first get a realistic assessment of how you are coming across to
employers. It’s actually quite difficult to get this assessment. Most
employers can’t or won’t (for legal reasons) give you real feedback on
your resume or interview. And so you get a lot of “we had many
candidates apply…” and other non-useful information. Your friends,
probably none of whom have actually hired someone or worked in HR, and
probably haven’t had to look for a job themselves in a long time,
can’t give you any useful feedback beyond myths and conjecture. This
is why people pay good money to have a professional career counselor
review their resume and do a practice interview. This is also why it’s
essential to do informational interviews with people in your chosen
career field and ask them for real and honest feedback about whether
you meet the qualifications to enter the field. What you will usually
find is that it is neither all your fault (though you might be able to
do a few things to improve yourself), nor is it all their fault
(though it’s true that sometimes people face discrimination).

Once you have real feedback, you can find out if it’s the terrible
attitude that’s keeping you from getting hired, or whether you
actually do need to make changes in your resume and interviewing, or
whether you might actually need to build on your qualifications to be
considered for the jobs you want. If discrimination is an actual
concern, which it sometimes is, ideally you will get feedback on how
to best address this issue by positively addressing the misguided
concerns of the employer. Hopefully, you will also get some
encouragement to get yourself applying for the jobs you actually are a
good fit for, and/or to get yourself to build the skills you need to
move in the right direction. Ideally, you will get past the mountains
of rejection you have experienced and find a way to see that you do
bring something great to the table for your employer. Cure the
attitude poison and you will be a long way towards the right direction
in your job search.

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One thought on “Overcoming rejection: The Two Poisons That Destroy Your Job Search Chances

  1. One thing I think is important to add to the very thoughtful comments made here. The rejection is sometimes not about a lack of qualifications, bad attitude, discrimination, or anything else of the sort. Sometimes there are simply other candidates who are a better overall (including personality) match for the employer. There’s nothing wrong with who you are or the skills you bring, but another person simply appeared to be what the employer was looking for in terms of a cultural fit.

    I’ve had this happen to me, and have seen it happen to others. And it’s fine. A company for whom you’re not a good cultural fit will be a place you’ll eventually come to dislike working for anyway. Better to find a good match.

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