How to Overcome Rejection and See it as a Learning Experience

The job interview that didn’t go well. The raise you asked for but didn’t get. A performance review that went worse than you expected. Rejection takes many forms, but one thing they share in common is they don’t make you feel good. Well, not at first anyway.

Rejection can actually be one of the best things to happen to you in your career. In fact, it’s probably the most motivating experience you could have if you allow it. Instead of wallowing in sadness or feeling like you aren’t good enough, take it as an opportunity to try something new and look outside your comfort zone. If you approach it in the right manner, rejection can be freeing–and you can learn valuable things about yourself along the way.

I would also go so far as to say that if you’re not experiencing rejections at regular intervals, you’re probably not taking enough risks. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from trying new things or putting yourself out there. After all, place the rejection in perspective: it’s not personal.

If you are rejected from a job you were really excited about, take the initiative to reach out and ask for feedback about your resume and interview. Many HR departments have a blanket policy not to comment, but some will and the information they give you offers valuable insights into how to improve your candidacy in the future. (And look at it this way: if you weren’t a good fit for a company, the chances are the company wouldn’t have been a good fit for you, either.) Take any feedback you can get and spend time going over the entire process in your head. Where do you feel things went right and wrong, and how do your expectations match the reality of what occurred? This exercise will help you figure out ways to adjust your approach in the future.

Look for the opportunities that arise in rejection’s wake. The great thing about rejection is it pushes you outside your comfort zone, forcing you to try things that scare or challenge you. After all, the problem with a comfort zone is–if you stay there too long–it can stop feeling comfortable and start to feel like it’s weighing you down.

I once knew a man who had hated his job for years and always talked about leaving his company and moving abroad. Every time I spoke to him, I would hear some iteration on this subject, but then months would pass and he still wouldn’t have made any moves to change his situation. The leap was too scary. Too many what-ifs and choices and possibilities. It wasn’t until he got laid off during a restructuring that he felt the freedom to change his life and follow his dream. The choice had been made for him and there were no more what-ifs standing in his way. Within a few months, he had packed up and moved to Japan and he didn’t look back.

That’s the beauty of rejection. You don’t need to wait for a life-altering event like a layoff to occur to take advantage of it. Instead, examine the small rejections that occur regularly throughout your life and welcome them rather than fearing them. For more personalized coaching on how to deal with rejection, contact me here. Together, we’ll analyze your situation and figure out the best steps forward.