May 12th 2021

Mental Health Awareness: How to deal with job rejection

The CV that you send off into the online ether. The call for a second interview that never comes. The final stage rejection email for your dream job that makes your heart sink. No matter what stage you are in the job hunt, you will come face-to-face with the ugly rejection monster at some point. And it never feels good when it happens.

As much as we hate it, rejection is a part of life. One thing you mustn’t do is take every rejection personally and let it ruin your entire day. Even if you find yourself dealing with rejection after rejection, you have to approach the job hunt with a resilient mindset. But we all know this is easier said than done and it can often have a negative impact on your overall mental health. 

That’s why, in support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we spoke to Jack Needham, Co-Founder of the online employee-wellness platform, Sanctuary, to pull together some top tips to get you out of that job rejection rut. 

6 top tips to deal with job rejection

Don’t take it personally

This is advice that everyone struggles with, but it’s something you need to hear. When you get rejected for a job it is so easy to think it was because you weren’t good enough. But that is not the case. It has nothing to do with your worth as a person or your general abilities. It can just simply be the case that someone with slightly better credentials came along or suited the role a bit better. It’s not a reflection of you. It’s just business and that’s the bottom line. The company is looking out for their best interests only, so you have to not take it personally and let it get you down. 

Look at your accomplishments

Jack Needham, Co-Founder of Sanctuary says, “It can be easy to get lost in the battles in our head and sometimes we fall into a negative thought spiral. Instead, look back at your past accomplishments or what you’re grateful for.”

Job rejection can easily make you doubt yourself and focus on your failures. But you should take pride in the things you already have under your belt. Any accomplishment matters and you need to draw on these positives instead to avoid damaging your mental wellbeing. One trick to ground yourself is to turn to “gratitude journaling”. Here’s how:

  • Write down 3 things you are grateful for e.g. time to go out and grab a coffee
  • Write down 3 things you have achieved e.g. completing an application or celebrating a past achievement
  • Do this each day to keep yourself in a positive mindset  

Take time for yourself 

We all know the job hunt requires a lot of input of your time and energy. It is almost like a job in itself. But that doesn’t mean you should let that eat into time spent looking after your mental health. You will almost become counter-productive if you don’t stop to take a breather and focus on other things. This Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on the importance of nature. Time outside can: 

  • Improve your mood
  • Reduce feelings of stress or anger
  • Help you take time out and feel more relaxed
  • Improve your physical health
  • Improve your confidence and self-esteem
  • Help you be more active
  • Help you make new connections 

“When people ask me to suggest an activity that requires the least amount of effort, I cannot recommend more the importance of nature. Getting some fresh air, being surrounded by nature, and taking 5 mins to clear your head requires very little effort and is such an incredible way to reset.”

Take it as a learning experience

We all learn from our experiences, and interviewing is no different. Once you’ve had a chance to come to terms with the employer’s decision, it can be tempting to brush the experience aside and never think of it again. But that would be passing up on an opportunity to learn and improve for next time. 

“Perspective can be really important when combating stress and anxiety. You should try and take a step back to learn how to do better next time.”

Think about the feedback you received, reflect back on everything that happened, and ask yourself: What did I sense went well? What could I have done differently? It’s all a learning curve and there is always room to improve, so use any setbacks to shine a light on these areas. 

Recognise it’s not your only chance

Opportunities can feel like they only come once in a blue moon, with job rejection feeling like you just lost your only chance. But you shouldn’t pin your hopes on one specific job in the belief it’s the only one for you. This is a recipe for depression to set in. 

“A quick tool is the five by five rule. If it won’t matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it. More opportunities will come and you will find the perfect job eventually.” 

This is how you should approach every job rejection. Self-talk yourself into success with positive mantras such as, “this is merely a minor setback; I will find a new job” or “rejection is redirection to the right path”, to keep your mental wellbeing strong. 

Do something that makes you feel powerful 

“With all the tips, tricks, and practices we should be doing to help ourselves destress, it can all get a bit stressful. We should always pepper ourselves with new ways to help us manage our mental health.”

When you’re feeling down and you’ve already combined all the previous tactics, the next big move is to do something that makes you feel in control and will boost your self-esteem. That could be meditating for 30 mins a day, running 5k, doing volunteer work, or getting out to do some gardening. Do what makes you powerful. You can even turn to the power of nature. Some time outside doing something you love or are good at will revitalise you and remind you that you can do this. 

Job rejection will always leave that unpleasant sting, but it’s up to you whether you decided to wallow in self-pity and weaken your mental health or use it to fuel yourself to keep improving. By recognising your strengths and ability to succeed and applying the above tactics, you will continue to bounce back quicker each time. You just have to remember that the right job is right around the corner, so keep your head up and keep on the job hunt.

For advice from start to finish on landing your dream job check out our ultimate guide to getting a job.