rejected by your dream job: here's how to cope

lily comba

I kept the 32-second voicemail on my phone for weeks: “Hi Lily, this Recruiter from Company, I just wanted to call and give you an update on your application. I really enjoyed our conversation at the end of last week, but unfortunately, due to the highly competitive nature of this program, the hiring committee has decided not to move forward with your application.”

I should have deleted the voicemail within a day. But I kept it for one important reason. 

The feeling of being told “no” causes an internal sinking. The handful of cheery butterflies that used to flutter within the walls of your stomach turn into a pound of rocks. Your hands might get clammy, you might feel dizzy, you might feel the need to cry. You’ve spent all this time preparing for interviews just to be told “Sorry, we’re not interested anymore.” And even worse, you’ve also spent a lot of time imagining what life would be like in that role and at that company. It’s hard to fathom the new reality of your situation because you’ve been living in this dream state. I turned to stone when I heard that voicemail – I couldn’t even manage to cry until an hour later.

How do you overcome rejection?

Short answer: react in the way that’s best for you.

Long answer: remember that brighter horizons are on the way.

In the moments following a rejection, let your body react in the way that it wants to. Cry if you’re a crier, yell if you’re a yeller, vent if you’re a venter. Feeling angry, sad, confused, or dejected are normal responses.

But how you choose to process that energy is also important. Keep in mind your worth. Even though this company isn’t further reviewing your application, it doesn’t mean you should think less of yourself. They might be looking for a different skillset or a different personality – but that’s just them. Let them hire someone else – and free yourself. You are still you: highly motivated, highly qualified, intelligent, confident, and courageous. You want to get hired by a company who sees that. So keep looking, keep searching. In some ways, the companies who say “no” to you are making your work as a job-seeker easier. You can cross them off your list in the same way that they crossed you off. Except you can choose to go anywhere, when they can only choose from one single applicant pool.

As cliché as this sounds, keeping your head up and your mind strong are the best ways to oversee a minor setback. Because a job rejection is just that – a minor setback. It’s nothing life-ending, nothing catastrophic. Life will go on and you will move past it. The world has bigger and better things that better match what you want, anyway. So I thank the companies that rejected me. Even though I certainly don’t listen to that voicemail anymore, keeping it on my phone was humbling. And it was also motivating. Yes, you said “no” to me, but that’s your loss. I’m still me and I’m still great and I’ll keep searching. To my fellow rejects, both current and future, let’s persevere.