Has your career path ever been blocked when you wanted an upgrade? It's crazy how cold a computer feels when you get a rejection notice after an interview or promotional opportunity. It can make us feel we are not good enough to try again or confuse us as to what to do next.
Here are a few responses from talented jobseekers who shared with me how it felt when they did not get the job or promotion they interviewed for:
"It was a motivation killer. I thought I would be picked."
"I remember numbing out with a bucket of ice cream & some NetFlix for over a week."
"I felt mostly mad at myself. I still keep seeing in my head how I messed up on the questions in the moment."
"Now I am doubting that things at work will ever change."
"I am SO done trying to put myself out there."
A crushing interview result can stop a high-achieving, motivated person right in their tracks and keep them stuck. I've not just seen it in my work for years as a hiring manager, but I have also heard friends and top-notch colleagues deeply question their worth after such a tough blow.
My journey in starting my own career coaching business came from seeing too many spirits broken through the hiring process. I began noticing how damaging the job seeker's journey can be to confidence and motivation. This made me realize that there needs to be more support available to help prevent people giving up or settling for less than they deserve at work.
Staying underpaid or feeling trapped at a workplace that does not seem to care about you is a toxic situation to be stuck in. After witnessing many incredible people go through this misery over and over again, I decided I needed to do more about it. This experience and passion ignited my mission to help end the interview struggle.
It's also why I spend a lot of time with clients developing a career rejection recovery plan. When you put a career rejection recovery plan into action, it helps protect you from staying stuck and giving up on the better work opportunities that you deserve. Think of this part of upgrading your interview experience like the first aid kit in the pantry or the seatbelt in your car. You still will go towards your career goal at full force. But a rejection recovery plan will come to the rescue if you need it.
Consider a career rejection recovery plan first aid for your energy, mindset, and spirit.
The wounds of a professional setback can hit deep and be damaging to your future at work if left untreated. When things aren't happening with your career how you would like them to, it can be tempting to keep going over how you do not measure up. I help clients transform that response and begin building themselves back up faster so they can get closer to work that lights them up.
You can begin right now with creating your own career rejection recovery plan that works for you. These four steps below are a beneficial place to start. Then add or subtract what you think will benefit your career journey best.
1. Reflect with compassion.
Ignore the pull to beat yourself up. After getting bad news about an opportunity, it is natural to be tough on yourself. You may be tempted to replay the moments you were in the hot seat in your head and trying to find answers of where things went wrong. When you reflect on it, I challenge you to first take a different perspective.
Put the end result (rejection/bad news) to the side for just five minutes. Determine what three positive points you are proud of from the interview or big meeting. What answers, moments or actions would you give a thumbs up? Perhaps you sent an engaging follow-up email, nailed it with the "tell me about yourself" question, thought quickly on your feet, or remembered to ask relevant questions. If you take a few minutes to give yourself some compassion, you will likely find more than three places that you were representing your best self at the time.
Then, for the next five minutes try looking at your growth points from the eyes of the person or group who interviewed or listened to you. Think about what problems were they looking to solve by hiring or hearing your pitch. How could you improve your message so your capability to meet their needs can be easily seen? Choose three ways you will work on upgrading to shine in the hot seat for next time. Stop there with three even if your mind wants to keep going to find more. Overanalyzing will only lead to staying stuck.
2. Remember your intention.
One of my favorite inspirational quotes is "When you feel like quitting, think about why you started". It reminds me that career rejection rocks all of us from time to time. The fastest way back to feeling good enough is to start connecting back to our why.
These questions can start to boost back up your motivation:
Write down what these questions have brought up for you. Draw a picture of how your answers make you feel if words don't seem to flow.
3. Refuel with self-care.
When we are upset or blind sighted by career news we did not want or expect, treating ourselves kindly is not often what most of us do. Binging on Netflix, ice cream, sleep or other ways to go numb are often the go-to. This might help for a small period of time, but too much prolongs the suffering and feeling of being stuck.
Allow yourself a one day numbness binge if needed. But after that, make sure to have one or more of these items listed below ready. You want them easily available to dive into or call upon at a moments notice.
4. Reclaim your value.
When you get rejected by an employer or not selected for a promotion, feelings may alternate from shock to anger to confusion and even fear (what if I never get the job I want?). You likely will want to throw in the towel on your career dream or you might find yourself taking it out on those around you. You may even start to question everything like a client recently shared with me, "Maybe I'm not in the right field anymore."
"When we feel like we failed professionally, often all we can see and feel is the dark and heavy mess right in front of us. It is in these moments that a spiritual practice can let the light in again by reminding us who we really are." -Shea Ki
For me, energy work through Reiki and guided imagery are the most direct and fastest ways I charge back up my feelings of self-worth and higher purpose. For you, it might be something different that helps reboot your connection and give you a more positive perspective. I enjoy exploring with clients how spiritual practices, (including Qoya, crystals, yoga, tai-chi, nature walks, chi-gong, meditation and more), reconnect us to the gifts and skills we can offer and be paid for fairly.
A rejection recovery process has become one of my top strategies to bouncing back quicker when professional situations do not turn out as I desire or I need clarity. Because, YES---
Rejection in the world of work happens to everyone at every level. It's time we stop hiding it or dealing with it on our own.
I'd love to discuss more ways you can make sure that past setbacks or a current fear of rejection does not have an effect on your next interview or future at work. Did you know we can connect for your free 30 minute online strategy session by clicking the "Let's meet" box on this page? Pick a time that works for you. It's an easy, positive step forward to upgrading your interview and shining in the hot seat.
Your turn: What will you include in your career rejection recovery plan? Share in the reply box below what uplifting music, helpful books, inspiring pictures, or self-care items you will make sure you have on hand when you are putting yourself out there in interviews or promotional opportunities.
Most of all, believe in yourself.
Shea Ki is a holistic career coach on a mission to end the job interview struggle. Subscribe to her growing email list for more interview tips, stress relief hacks, and other freebies that will help you shine in the hot seat.