But viewed another way, rejection can also be considered a very effective sifting mechanism. It keeps companies from hiring candidates who wouldn’t make a great fit, and it also keeps candidates from stepping into jobs that just aren’t right for them, allowing them to move one step closer to the jobs that are.

Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you spring back and move forward quickly each time you face this challenging aspect of the job search process.

1. It’s not you.

This may sound palliative or patronizing, but 99.9 percent of the time, it’s also true. You are a fine candidate and a fine person, but somebody else just happened to have one quality or one skill set that made them an even better fit. More likely, your credentials were similar—the other person just got there first.

2. Some resumes stand out more.

And it isn’t only because they’re “better.” Sometimes it boils down to the fact that they happened to land in front of a person who happened to be in a good mood at that moment, and who happened to connect with a single statement in the summary. At the right time and in the right place, an especially grabbing detail in the cover letter gave the application just the right amount of dimension and memorability.

3. The faster you recover, the faster you’ll reach your goals.

Two candidates receive the same disappointing rejection on the same day. They don’t know it yet, but they both have 50 more resumes to submit and three more interviews to attend before they each land the job they need. The first candidate takes a few days to brood, sulk, and putter around before getting back to business. The second candidate doesn’t have to “get back” to anything because she never paused and never stopped submitting resumes for even a minute. By the end of his month, one will be working, and the other will still be on the market.

4. Put your ego on hold…forever.

Try an experiment: take your “sense of self” (those unanswerable questions about whether or not you’re smart, whether you’re a good person, or whether your life has any value) and put them on hold. Tell them you’ll get right back to them and then put down the phone, turn on the hold music, and walk away. Forever. Go take care of your business. Do something for someone else. Spend time with the people you love. Watch what happens.

5. Make a few changes.

If you’re being rejected more often than you’d like,  try changing your resume. Note that we didn’t say “improve,” since your document is probably already polished and carefully edited. But try taking one statement and rephrasing it, or adding one additional detail, or taking out one less than a perfectly relevant claim. See if your results change. Use this version of the scientific method with every new submission as you move forward. Draw conclusions from your results.

Move Forward, No Matter What It Takes

Finding a job is a lot like finding true love; if you stay in motion and in circulation, good things will eventually happen. If you don’t, they won’t.  Visit LiveCareer for resume building tools and guidelines that can ward off discouragement and help you reach your destination faster. 

2 thoughts on “How to Bounce Back from Resume Rejection

  1. Mohammed Rahman says:

    I customize every resume and the cover letter for the job. At least, I think I am doing a great job with this. However, all I seem to receive is rejections. Even with that I stay positive as I don’t have time to waste on a pity party of one. I know there will be a break somewhere soon!

    • K.D. Holderman says:

      Mohammed – Persistence is of prime importance. However, the greater priority for you would be analysis and self-reflection. Promoting your personal brand is similar to a business promoting their brand. Think about Nike, Starbucks, Geico, or any other brand. You immediately know what type of product or service they provide. You need to make certain your resume does the same. The focus should be on what you offer, are you an amazing accountant that saved your last employer thousands? Did you contribute vital code to that helped create a killer mobile app that improved customer service? Customizing a resume is a strategy that I highly recommend, but if your resume is not getting you at least one contact a week, it’s time to reevaluate your personal brand. – KD

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