One of the most common challenges that my clients encounter is the disappointment of not getting the job they really wanted. You probably know what that’s like. You've pinned your hopes on that one job, and then you get that dreaded rejection email (usually an automated one these days). For some people, especially those who are unemployed, this disappointment can be crushing.

Job hunting can feel like a waste of time and effort, and you may not be sure what to do next.  I have some suggestions for you.

First, you need to get in the right mindset. Decide ahead of time how you are going to respond when the rejection and disappointment happens. Part of any job search is not getting some of the jobs that you want. It’s going to happen, regardless of who you are and how much experience you have. You can get control of the situation by deciding ahead of time — before it happens — how you’ll respond to the rejection. Things usually go better when we have a plan, but you probably never thought about planning for your feelings!

Notice that I used the word respond, instead of the word react. When you don’t have a plan for preparing yourself for rejection, you will react “in the moment” (usually a knee-jerk reaction), and you’ll probably feel powerless. You can get take your power back by planning how you’ll respond, and what you’ll do next, when that inevitable rejection comes – or if you don’t even get the courtesy of a rejection.

Planning how you will respond doesn’t mean that you are anticipating rejection or failure, it just means that you accept that job searching is a process, and the right opportunity will present itself at the right time. You only need one job, so you only need one “Yes.” Having a plan for how you’ll handle those inevitable “No’s” will avoid you from getting derailed in your search so you can ultimately find the Yes. Such a plan can help you can prevent setbacks and any damage to your confidence that may keep you from reaching your potential. The more our confidence is hurt, the more we react to our problems instead of actively working to solve them.

Here are three steps you can take to get through the disappointments that come up in the job search:

Step 1: Don’t assume it’s your resume. So many clients assume that if they didn’t get an interview, they need to go back and retool their resume for the 47th time. While your resume could be the reason you didn’t get a callback, it could also be one of countless other reasons. Maybe they already hired someone. Maybe they decided not to hire anyone. Maybe they never saw your resume because it fell into the online black hole. Take a quick look at your resume, if you must, but don’t waste time revising it repeatedly. A resume is only part of a job search. While you’re at it, take a quick look at your LinkedIn to make sure it’s aligned with your target jobs. In fact, your LinkedIn profile may get viewed even before your resume does. Then move on. Keep applying.

Step 2: Find a different way to apply. There are more ways to apply than online. You can work with recruiters (see my recent article on “Working with Recruiters. You can ask your network for leads. You can attend job fairs. You can reach out to companies that aren’t hiring by sending them a “letter of interest.”  The best job search strategy uses more than one method. In my coaching, I teach clients how to target specific jobs, companies, and people. It’s a threefold approach that gets much better results.  Can you connect with some of your fellow college alumni? Maybe your local Chamber of Commerce has job search resources, or a list of local companies you can reach out to. These are just a few examples of other strategies to try.

Step 3: Ask for feedback. When you don’t know what else to try, someone else might. Ask a friend for advice. Hire a coach. Reach out to a recruiter. You don’t have to do it alone. Job searching can be one of the most isolating processes. If you interview and don’t get the job, ask the hiring manager for feedback. They may or may not tell you, but it’s worth asking. Or ask a friend who works in your targeted industry/line of work to provide feedback or mentoring. This is especially critical if you are changing careers. You can also join groups on LinkedIn and other social media sites to get feedback and make connections.

One last tip is to consider temporary or contract work from a staffing agency. This is a great stop-gap to stay employed while you search for work. It’s better to have a short-term contract role on your resume than a long gap of unemployment. One more advantage to temping: it may make you feel more productive, which can help boost your mood.

For more information on this topic, listen to Episode 122 of the Career UpRising podcast, When the Job Search Isn’t Working, on iTunes or at

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