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How To Build Resilience From Rejection

14 May 8:00 by Donal Grey
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Rejection is hard. It's hard to hear, hard to accept and can even make you reconsider your self-worth. Being resilient is even more difficult, you have to be able to move on quickly despite external and internal pressures and this article will help you by outlining a few methods to help build your resilience to rejection.

These are tough times for all. Many companies are downsizing, others are on a hiring freeze. Here I will talk about building resilience from rejection. Contrasting candidates, hiring managers and recruiters will give insight to all parties and how we can all be more resilient.

Job hunting is hard on all sides. As a job hunter you get invested in the role, the company, the team and your potential boss. You have bills to pay, rent, possibly family pressures too so you start to imagine life there then you are not selected for the role.

If you're the client, you need someone to fill a gap, to take some pressure off your shoulders, the cost of not having someone in a role is often a lot higher than people imagine. You spend 3 months looking for the right person only for them to be snapped up by another company or reject your offer. Time to start the search again and that deadline for that project is still looming.

If you're in recruitment, you deal with rejection on a daily basis. Dozens of times a day when trying to connect with new clients, from candidates who aren't open or reject an offer of employment and from clients who reject all the carefully selected people you've given them.

So how do we get a better outlook after rejection? Job hunting or otherwise? How do we bounce back and be resilient?


6 Tips for Resilience


1. Ask for feedback.

Asking for feedback from everyone in the process is very important. It can also sting. Humans tend to overestimate our own capabilities (the Dunning–Kruger effect) so getting rejected hurts on a few levels.

When asking for feedback I'd suggest framing it in a positive way e.g. 'What can I improve upon?' rather than the knee-jerk 'Why didn't I get the job?'. This will give you better feedback as you're asking on how you can be better and not assigning blame. When people feel attacked, we get defensive, very little helpful feedback will come from this state of mind.

You can ask about the positive feedback and the negative feedback, having both sets of feedback will help you focus on what to keep doing and what to tweak, so be sure to frame your questions well.

People forget that not every hiring manager has tonnes of experience hiring people, maybe they have just become a hiring manager, maybe they have a small stable team. For hiring managers too, don't be afraid to ask for feedback on your interviewing style or questions (maybe ask your friendly neighbourhood recruiter first). This will help you refine questions and get to the heart of what matters.


2. Accept the emotions you feel.

Warren Buffet once said, "You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you, true power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint".

Recognise the pain, however it is felt, process it, accept it and move on. Be proactive in improving your situation.


3. Make a list of your wins.

This may seem odd after a rejection but hear me out. Write a list of all that went well throughout the process. Did you ace that HR interview? Write it down and why. Did you arrive 10 mins early for your interview with the big boss? Tick. Was your thank you note to the interviewers well received? Put that down too.

It doesn't matter what it is so long as you did it well. Unsure what you did well? See step 1 above.

This will boost your confidence and help you get back in the market faster by giving you a clean win sheet. Focus on the good and shore up the bad.

Hiring managers and recruiters can use this too. As Adam Savage from Mythbusters said, "the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down".


4. Work on your interview skills.

Interviewing is a set of skills. Like any skill, if you don't practice it, you'll lose the edge. Practice job-specific skill questions (if you're a Java developer, be sure to brush up on your Java definitions e.g. define class in Java, what is multi-threading etc.) and behavioural questions too.

Behavioural questions are where most people struggle as they can be vague and varied. When answering questions such as 'Have you ever made a mistake in your job?', be sure to structure your answer so it highlights the situation, the task you needed to do, the activity you actually did and the result. Click here for more info on the STAR technique. This will help structure your answer and keep you from talking about any unnecessary details.

As mentioned above, everyone should practice their interviewing skills, including hiring managers and recruiters. Hiring managers are likely the first point of contact for a candidate so that first meeting should be as good as possible. People accept job offers because of the hiring managers and if they click. Practice makes perfect.

This applies to CVs too. Be sure to tailor your CV so it enhances the skills and experience you have when applying for jobs. Often, less is more and use facts and figures in your CV to back yourself up.


5. Resilience

Build your mental toughness. Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you’ll still experience anger, grief and pain, but you'll be able to keep functioning. That is the goal to be mentally tough. Never giving up despite the pain. People who practice long distance running or other endurance sports will know this.

Job hunting is often filled with failures and disappointments (well... not if you're partnering with Argyll Scott) so it's important to rebound quickly by learning from what went wrong and what went right.


6. Stay hopeful.

You can't change the past, but you can always look towards the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges as what they are: Opportunities.

Losing out on a job you liked is tough, with that in mind, keep going, keep networking, be positive, keep talking with your recruiter and who knows? Maybe you'll land an even better job just down the road.


Reach out to me here in Argyll Scott at dgray@argyllscott.com.hk or on my direct line +852 3695 5197.