Realigning and Rebounding After Professional Rejection

By Megan Lillick

Facing job rejections (and the uncertainty that comes with them)? Our girl Megan has some sound advice for you to help you find that silver lining, bounce back and move on.

Job rejections come in many forms. The most notable among them include the automated email, the awkward phone call and the unnecessary video conference call (scheduled for 6 p.m. on a Friday, of course). And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the worst of them all: the non-rejection rejection, a.k.a. being professionally ghosted. Yup, sometimes companies can be as shady as your Tinder date.

I’ve experienced them all. You might have as well, unfortunately.

Most rejections hurt the ego somewhat, even if just a smidge. Whether it’s a rejection from a gig you simply applied to just because LinkedIn’s “Easy Apply” is just too easy not to or, even worse, a rejection from what you thought could have been your dream job, it can put you in quite the funk. It might even push you into an existential and/or quarter-life crisis (but I would argue that could be a good thing).

The point is, it’s good to understand that, ultimately, these letdowns build up our resilience and force us to take a step back and evaluate our next moves. In the moment, it can be difficult to notice, but there’s usually a silver lining. Below we give you some tips in finding that shine, so you can, too.

Review and revamp that CV.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been asked in for an interview, maybe your CV, cover letter or portfolio needs some work. Have a good friend (or a professional, if you have the means) take a fine-tooth comb through your application. Maybe there are major typos, or perhaps you’re not catering your cover letter to the job description enough. In my case, a friend recently pointed out that updating my portfolio website to better showcase examples that reflect the new roles I’m going after could help. Don’t panic, though! You don’t have to start from scratch or build an entirely new website. Oftentimes just making small changes (like updating the wording, moving the content around or sprucing up the look) can help.

Ask for feedback.

Knowing what you could have done better can be valuable for future applications and interviews, but take it with a grain of salt. When you ask for feedback and get a novel-sized response that details how you should have answered every single interview question (and the email is peppered with buzzwords, half of which seem made up), look for that silver lining. No thanks, Peter. I wouldn’t want to work for you, if your management style is based on unnecessary jargon, micromanaging and mansplaining.

Reevaluate your passion.

Think about the day-to-day responsibilities of the jobs you’re applying to. Do they excite you? The thing is, sometimes we feel like we have to take certain jobs because that’s what we went to school for or because it’s another rung up on the career ladder we’ve been climbing.

However, if your eyes and heart don’t light up when you think of a day in the life of that job (even if you once thought it’d be your dream job), then maybe it’s time to make a change. Which brings me to my next point...

Follow your curiosity.

There are so many workshops in any given day here in Berlin. Many are even free. Sign up to something that sparks your interest and learn something new. You may realize you have a new passion and want to do whatever it takes to bring it to life as a career.

See learning as a lifelong process.

Say you find a new interest through a meetup or a bit of soul searching. Want to dig even deeper? It’s never too late to go back to school. And “school” doesn't have to mean getting a master’s or Ph.D. at an accredited university. There are plenty of one- to two-year programs to gain experience in a subject. There are also plenty of intensive weekend classes, tech-camps, crash-courses, retreats abroad, etc. to get whatever certificate (or experience) it is you need to see your passion through.

Remember, though, that you don’t need to quit your day job and throw caution to the wind. If your responsibilities in life prevent you from making drastic changes, it’s definitely fine to keep a less-than-perfect job while you’re working toward your goal.

Have a support system.

We all need shoulders to lean on time and again, especially after receiving job rejections. Talking about it with friends and family can only help because they know you best. They probably have even more advice than what’s already listed here. The point is, you don’t have to do it alone. And you’ve always got us at Clustered. :)