As a new graduate, you knew that finding a job wouldn’t be as easy as you walking across the stage and getting a job offer immediately upon receiving your degree. But you did hope that it would be a little easier than this. You’ve been applying non-stop to jobs for the past few months, spending countless hours creating and honing your cover letters and resumes to meet the exact expectations that each job posting requires. Some of the applications go unnoticed, without so much of a “thank you for applying” response. And then, you finally get a call back, and an offer to interview you! You have the perfect outfit, you meet all of the qualifications of the job, and you’re feeling super confident as you meet the people who will interview you. You walk out thinking, “there’s no way I won’t get an offer – that went great!” And then, you are told that there is another candidate more suited for the position. Maybe this has happened to you multiple times this month, maybe this has happened only once. No matter how many times it has happened, it still hurts.
Job rejection is terrible, and maybe this rejection builds on a story you have about yourself of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m stupid”. It’s very common for these stories to arise as you go through some difficult times; it feels like each negative experience (e.g., job rejection) provides evidence for these stories and makes them more powerful. If you have experienced a rejection from a job recently, you do not also have to suffer and continue to feel down about yourself. I’ve gathered a list of tried and true tools to use when you’re feeling crappy about the rejection so you can boost your confidence and get yourself the job you’re after.
First, right here and right now, take three huge, deep breaths. Seriously, do it and notice what happens in your body and mind. For me, this simple exercise brings me so much calmness and clarity when I feel myself starting to spin out from worrying. Shallow breathing increases the feeling of worry and panic in your brain and body, but, good news! -your breath can be controlled BY YOU. Research has shown that this simple exercise literally sends a message from your body to your brain that you are okay, right here in this moment. It slows down the heart and increases oxygen flow into your body, allowing for your brain to slow down rather than continue spinning out.
Second, your feelings of _________ (shame, worry, anxiety, hurt, fear, etc.) are valid, and they are okay to experience. You can honor them and listen to them, without placing judgement or expectation on them to “go away” or giving them too much power over you. They are there for a reason, and they should be heard. Rather than using your energy to fight against it or shove it away from your experience, just notice the emotion and surrender to its presence. However it is helpful for you to achieve this, do it. For some, it means writing about it. For others, maybe it means going on a quiet walk or run or swim to think things over and clear your head. For others, maybe it means just feeling the feelings and crying about it or coming to therapy. I notice that confident people own their emotions and name them, without feeling ashamed for experiencing them. Experiencing emotion is a normal, human experience, and they are nothing to be ashamed of!
Third, use some healthy coping skills that brings you joy and peace. Using a healthy coping skill means that you can mindfully soothe your system and create a sense of calmness, even if you are going through a tough time. For me, this means slowly and quietly rubbing lotion on my hands (added bonus if I rub my hands together quickly for a few seconds then rest them over my eye space – that feeling of warmth and energy from the friction is so powerful but I get it if it’s too woo-woo for you 🙂 ). The feeling of adding something softening to my hands, the smell of it, the simple act of just rubbing my hands together and feeling the friction between them. It works for me! For others, maybe this is a simple skin care routine, using your favorite essential oils, playing an instrument, creating art, going to a favorite yoga or martial arts or barre class, going to a movie, or just cuddling your pet or your partner or your child.
I want to acknowledge that perhaps some of you are reading through this and thinking “so what? Why should I work on breathing and calming myself when I’m just trying to get a job?”, and that’s valid! My idea in presenting this blog is that loving yourself and being grounded in who you are and what you are here to offer the world will help boost your confidence. I want you to have confidence and present yourself in a manner that reads “I’m a total badass, and that’s just one of the many reasons you should hire me”. Taking deep breaths, acknowledging and accepting your feelings, and using healthy coping skills are all ways to help ensure that, first and foremost, you are taken care of and are feeling grounded and centered enough to take on any task!