RU GSE Student Blog

A Student Perspective

Rejection 101


Probably the most painful one syllable word to hear…

Let’s face it. NO one likes hearing NO. When there’s something you really, really want in life (whether it’s love, a job, or a raise), the last thing you want to hear is “no.” Regardless of how much we may be averse to hearing “no,” we still hear it all the time. 

Rejection is a huge part of life.

Just as feeling rejected in middle school felt crappy, getting rejected from a job brings an equally unpleasant sensation. As humans, we all crave acceptance in all aspects of our life. Acceptance helps us feel like we belong and matter—and, simply, it makes us feel liked and wanted. Rejection, on the other hand, hurts. It makes us feel unwanted and inadequate. These feelings can be really painful and shake the inner core of our confidence.


The reality is…rejection is not going anywhere. So, how can we better prepare ourselves for dealing with it in the workplace?

Don’t Take It Personally: Your self-worth and value is not measured by your ration of rejections to acceptances. When you’re rejected from a job, it’s easy to wonder…”what’s wrong with me?” or “what did I do wrong?” STOP yourself! These questions are futile. While it’s possible that there’s something you “did” to bring about rejection, it’s likely that you had no control. The fact that someone told you “no” doesn’t mean that you are no good. In fact, you are just as amazing and fabulous as you were before the “no.” Don’t ever forget that…


Understand The Odds: When we play the lottery and lose, do we feel rejected? No. Of course, we feel disappointed, but we don’t feel rejected. Well, applying for jobs and getting rejected is a lot like playing the lottery. Sometimes, the odds are just against you. Various factors play into the employer’s decision. It’s important to understand your odds. Just like you know that your 1 in 175,000,000 chance of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot, you should know your odds when applying for a job. One particular job I applied for (and got rejected from) had one opening and received 400 applications. You do the math.

Know What You Can Control: There’s something called “sphere of influence” vs. “sphere of concern.” Your sphere of influence is where you have control. While the aspects of your life in the sphere of concern are important, you possess little to no control over them. If you look at the job search process as it relates to your locus of control, it helps put your anguish over rejection into perspective. Sometimes, you just have to relinquish control and accept the burn of some “no’s” before you get that one amazing “yes.”

Check out this Ted Talk on Understanding Your Sphere of Influence:

Rejection Means You’re Doing Something Right: If you’re not hearing “no” often enough, you’re doing something wrong or you’re just not applying to many jobs. It’s absolutely normal to be told “no.” Embrace it, and learn from the experience. There may be tangible factors that led to your rejection that lie within your sphere of influence. Don’t be afraid to ask an employer what factored into their decision not to hire you. Be prepared to potentially not enjoy what you hear, but, when you hear it, reflect on it, and determine how to use that information to move forward in a positive direction.

Remember You’re Not Alone: If none of my words give you any solace as you deal with your own rejections, the fact that you’re not alone in your rejection has to help…We all go through it. Even the people who seem like they are super successful and have it all together have been rejected once, twice, or 30 times. If you focus on your strengths, learn from your mistakes, and keep your head held high, you’ll soon find someone like Uncle Sam offering you a job.


Further Rejection Reading: 

Check out this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education provides 6 ways to get over job search rejection: Read the full article for more in-depth advice

  • Process Your Emotions
  • Exercise
  • Regain Perspective
  • Volunteer
  • Work Your Network
  • Consult an Expert

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