Let’s say you get rejected for a job, internship, or program even after you do all the things we talk about here at Praxis. You didn’t just blast a resume, you created a value proposition, a personal pitch deck, a compelling digital paper trail of projects, and a powerful signal. But you still get a ‘no’.
First, you get to choose how to respond. Angrily or graciously; passionately or dispassionately; personally or objectively.
It’s okay to let in a little anger, passion, and taking it personally if it motivates and creates a narrative that inspires you. But you’re going to miss out on some massive potential for personal and professional growth if that’s your primary orientation.
Be gracious, dispassionate, and objective about the rejection. It has several key benefits and avoids some important costs. Here are three reasons:
1. It helps your reputation
A gracious response might impress others who see it. Friends, associates, Facebook followers, and even the people who turned you down. An angry response could cost you. Even if you were treated unfairly, even if you’re really down about it, frustrated or defeatist attitudes signal all the wrong things about you.
2. It can lead to better things
A good response might even mean the very people that turned you down give you a shot again later for the same role, or a different role, or even act as a referral for you to another opportunity. I have more than once helped people who were not a good fit for what I was doing get jobs or internships elsewhere if they were confident and poised about not getting the role.
3. It turns rejection into a discovery process
Even if none of the above happen, there is a more powerful reason to not let rejection rile you up. The way you respond internally to the strikeout creates the lens that determines what information you’re able to see in the process. If you’re trying to get new opportunities, you need to understand yourself and the market. Every bit of insight matters, and an emotional response to rejection immediately narrows your field of vision and blinds you to vital intel.
Let’s try an analogy.
You go to the supermarket. Of the thousands of products, you buy only three or four. What if a company that produces some of products you didn’t buy concluded that you were mean, stupid, and too prideful to see how valuable their product is? What if they concluded that their product is awesome, they have a clear value proposition, and you not buying it is unfair? What if they started Tweeting about how the world sucks every time any customer walked by their display without making a purchase?
But why is it dumb? Because even an amazing product with a good value proposition isn’t valuable to all people at all times.
A smart company doesn’t spend energy feeling bad. Every person who passes on their product is valuable. They provide information that cannot be obtained any other way. No matter how many focus groups, free samples, and demos you run, you can’t know who values what and how much until you put your product into the real world and see what people do when trade-offs are involved.
Same goes for you on the market for career opportunities.
Treat it like a game. It’s not personal. It’s not about the core of your being or your value as a human. It’s a discovery process to gain insight into what’s of economic value in the market and how you are perceived. Get as much info as you can from this! Every rejection is a chance to learn something new about yourself and the world.
You can ask people to give you feedback on your resume. You can search average income stats for various skills. You can imagine how valuable you are. None of that is one tenth as useful as asking someone to pay you a real price for your productivity. That’s how you learn.
Next time you don’t land an opportunity take a deep breath, step out of youself for a moment, assume everyone involved is a rational actor, and see what you can discover.
If you want insight into what can increase your value, personal coaching, intense skills training, a portfolio of projects, startup apprenticeship experience, and a great full-time job, apply to Praxis today.