Job hunting is an arduous climb up the employment ladder. It’s a rollercoaster ride with its share of twists and turns that keep you up all night. And with it comes rejections, which are an inevitable part of the process. So, when that happens, we will either find ourselves holding a rejection pity party or sobbing hysterically in a corner of our room. 

Here are 5 stages of grief that you might encounter while going through a job rejection:

1) Denial: The concept of Denial has different meanings for different people. For some, it’s a form of coping mechanism and for others, it’s their defence system. We humans need time to adjust to stressful situations. Some people are built peculiarly, psychologically, that they just can’t accept defeat. They struggle to accept losing, and they even fail to comprehend that they have not won. Thus, operate in denial by hiding from their feelings makes them vulnerable. 

2) Anger: Rejections could be hopelessly overwhelming for some people. You feel anxious, irritated, frustrated. You may resent the other person and it is natural to feel angry, to connect you with reality. The more truly you show your feelings, the more quickly you will heal.

3) Bargaining: If I had been more confident, if I had practised more, if I had done something differently then I would have gotten the job. You will often find yourself doing these internal negotiations after your rejection. You try to make yourself believe that you could turn the situation in your favour by doing some kind of negotiation rather than accepting it with sincerity. 

4) Depression: Accepting failure may make you hopeless and numb. The realisation draws you towards sadness and despair. However, this is all temporary and a part of your response to rejection. 

5) Acceptance: It is about acknowledging what went wrong, exploring new options, making new plans and moving on. 

All the above emotions and feelings are transient and their very nature is to change. So, to manage them better lets divide our action plan into three phases. 

Phase 1: Acknowledge and Accept

We, humans, are inadvertently built to take rejections negatively. It’s called the Negativity Bias. It is a psychological phenomenon in which negative thoughts, emotions, events, experiences imprint on our brain more quickly and linger longer as compared to the positive ones. To get over this, you need to be more mindful, acknowledge what has happened and accept whatever you are feeling. You must remember that you are not the only one who got rejected, rejections are part of life, and it is impossible to crack every single job. You must account for other positive scenarios too. Like there could be last-minute budget constraints or there could be some other candidate who might have been better suited for the role. So don’t be so harsh on yourself, you can do better next time. 

Phase 2: Analyse and Learn

Don’t let rejections give you the stamp of failure, rather you must take them in your stride and revel in them by learning from them. Analysing could be a great start. Analyse your:

  • Approach: Figure out if you are applying for positions that complement your skills, experience and talent. If not then it’s time to relook that approach. 
  • Feedback: If you think you can handle it, then request the recruiter for feedback. Take note of what you could have done better.
  • Skills: One has to keep upskilling, add some more value to resume and keep up with the times to stay relevant. 
  • Expectations: There has been a huge shift in Pre pandemic and Post pandemic industry. You can’t expect to land a job in the same timeline as you would have before COVID-19 hit. So it’s better to manage and rework these expectations. 

Phase 3: Move on

It’s time now to take your mind off the rejection and move on. This requires humility, strength and the courage to fight back. So make a roadmap that not only drops you to your end goal but also has room for minor setbacks, learning and growth.

As much as job hunting is a goal-oriented task, it’s also a process with different permutations and combinations that may or may not work, but you should keep going. Meanwhile, you could take a break and explore your hobbies or something new altogether, which will not only refresh you but also boost your confidence.