How to Handle Rejection and Seek Powerful Feedback

Article

5 min read

You scored an interview, nailed every question (even the curly ones), and feel confident the job is in the bag. 

Then an email arrives, and you see the dreaded words:

“We’re sorry to inform you…”

Job rejection can feel like a punch in the gut. 

You can’t help but ask yourself where you tripped up: 

Did I say the wrong thing? Do I lack the right skills? Did I wear the wrong thing? Am I qualified for this career? Will I ever get a job?

STOP!

The biggest mistake you can make in this situation is to let the rejection hold you back from making your next move.

With the right mindset and a big dose of resilience, you can use a job rejection to set up your next great career opportunity. 

Here’s how:

Take a moment

Pause for a minute and take comfort in knowing that everyone at some point in their career gets rejected for a role they really want.

Elon Musk apparently applied for a gig at Netscape in the 1990s without success and was fired from his job as PayPal’s CEO, before he went on to co-found Tesla. He is currently the richest person in history.  

JK Rowling’s first manuscript of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury gave her a shot. To date, over 120 million copies have been sold worldwide in 80 languages. 

So, spend some time processing the rejection, acknowledge your negative feelings, then switch to a resilient mindset and get back into the game.

Quit over-analyzing

The worst thing you can do is replay your interview over and over again in your head, worrying about all the things you think you did wrong. 

Stewing in negative thoughts and feelings will only stop you from moving forward and finding your dream job. 

Be kind to yourself and drown out your inner critic by repeating positive mantras, like “I am confident in my ability to succeed. I will achieve my goals.”

Ask for detailed feedback

In his famous Ted Talk, What I learned from 100 days of rejection, Jia Jiang tells the story of how he sought out rejection for 100 days, from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a “burger refill” at a restaurant. 

In the process, he desensitised himself to the pain and shame that rejection can bring. Instead, he used it as a learning experience, and made it his mission to find out the “Why” behind the rejection, so he could respond to that rather than running from the rejection.

Make it your mission to do the same after job rejection. 

It might make you cringe, but it’s worth having a good think about what happened in the interview and how you can learn from it.

Self-analysis is a good place to start, but will only get you so far – you need feedback from the source.

Gather all the feedback you can from the interviewer or recruiter. If they come back with feedback that feels a bit generic, don’t be afraid to ask for more specific insights. 

The hiring manager may even respond with advice on how you can rework certain areas of your resume for future positions at the company. 

But how do you actually ask for feedback?

Should you phone or email? And how do you phrase the question?

As a rule, phone calls are better. That way you can connect with a fellow human, ask a mix of questions and delve a bit deeper. 

But if you’re struggling to get through to the right person on the phone, be sure to leave a message and follow up with an email.

Bottom line, you should never feel awkward asking for feedback – it’s very common and will help you raise your interview game. In fact, it may even elevate your standing with that company in future – exhibiting a keen desire to learn and grow from past experience is always a good thing!

Act on feedback

Now you’ve got feedback, use it! 

Think about how you can restructure your resume, fill gaps in your skillset, or sharpen your interview skills. 

Hodie app can absolutely help with that (and for free) – download the app to master key skills that can help you achieve your career goals.

Take a step back and reasses

If you keep striking out, it may be time for a rethink. 

Look at the jobs you’re applying for. Are they outside of your core competencies and strengths?

Maybe the hiring manager was right, and this job wasn’t the best fit for you. If so, chances are you wouldn’t have been happy in the role – they did you a favour by not hiring you!

For some further feedback and advice, ask a friend, industry professional or careers coach to look at your resume. Does it highlight your strengths? Could it do a better job of selling your strengths?

Look at other elements too, like your LinkedIn profile and social media presence. Recruiters look at these things to get an idea of who candidates are, so make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best light.

Refine your job search

Were you rejected from a job you were really excited about? 

Yes, it hurts, but you can still work with the rejection.

Delve into what it was about the role you were particularly excited about, and look for similar responsibilities and skills in other positions.

This is your chance to find a job that really fits your personal superpowers!

Over to you

Getting turned down from a job happens to everyone, and it’s tough. But it’s what you do next that counts. Use this opportunity to refine your interview skills, assess your job search and get even closer to your dream role.