September 04, 2023 3 min read

Handling Rejection

Since finishing your program, you’ve attended convocation and received your diploma. For months you’ve scoured job boards actively applying because you are not only dedicated but also motivated to secure more than a job. You want a career you can be proud of that will allow you to grow. At first, you checked your inbox daily. Lately though, your enthusiasm dwindled because the replies started the same way, “We have decided not to proceed with your application.” If you need help handling rejection, this piece is for you.

Motivational Tips

Whether it’s your first or fifteenth, a job search can be stressful and frustrating. You are competing for a limited number of positions with people who may be just as skilled or even more experienced. To help you along your journey, we’ve pulled together some motivational tips from Hannah Frye and Elissa Epel, Alison Doyle, Marianne Strenger, and Jack Kelly.

  1. Settle into a daily routine: Setting up a daily routine is a great way to give yourself structure and stay motivated throughout your job search. Hannah Frye’s article Can Daily Rituals Actually Reduce Stress? A Psychologist Weighs In, quotes Elissa Epel, Ph.D., with “routine and rituals are extremely important because they allow us to relax.” Creating a daily routine that designates time for your job search, writing cover letters, updating your resume, and activities that you enjoy to unwind is a great way to start.
  2. Set reasonable, concrete goals: Setting small, measurable goals can be motivating during a job search. Try devoting an hour a day to finding a specific number of jobs and another to apply to them. For example, you could set a goal to apply to three jobs each day, getting you to an achievable goal of 21 by the end of the week. In her article Tips for Staying Positive While Job Searching, Alison Doyle says that by setting small, achievable goals, you can feel a greater sense of accomplishment throughout your search.
  3. Make a list of your achievements: While it may feel uncomfortable, it’s important to appreciate and acknowledge your academic and professional achievements. Marianne Stenger suggests assembling a list of your most significant career achievements, including projects you worked on or problems you helped to solve. Listing your greatest achievements on your resume also keeps them top of mind and helps you answer questions confidently in an interview.
  4. Volunteer: Since volunteers are always needed, consider offering your time if you can spare it. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, find your purpose and figure out what matters to you. Alison Doyle says, “volunteering can bolster your resume and count as part of your job searching.
  5. Focus on the things you can control: Whether it’s the job market, experience, level of education, economy, industry or location, many variables are out of your control. It’s crucial to recognize how stressful a job search can be. Don’t apply to every job you see. Focus your time and energy on positions you’re genuinely interested in. Marianne Stenger suggests enhancing your resume, boosting your online presence and investing time in learning new skills.
  6. Think positive thoughts: It sounds simple, but when things aren’t going your way, thinking and staying positive could be the most challenging task of all. Jack Kelly’s How To Stay Positive During A Long And Exhausting Job Search, suggests we replace all the negative thoughts echoing in our heads with positive affirmations such as:
    • “I’m good at what I do.” 
    • “This is a temporary setback.” 
    • “I’ll get through this.”

Repeating positive affirmations can drown out negative thoughts when they start.

Defining Success

Maintaining a positive outlook can be challenging when you don’t receive a positive response to a job application. You may find yourself second-guessing your decisions, from the program you pursued to the school where you studied. However, progress isn’t only defined by success. In times like these, you must push yourself to find the resilience to achieve goals which may seem out of reach. Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Life is full of challenges, and how we confront them can set a precedent for how we handle them in the future. Sometimes, the real challenge is creating your own definition of success.

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