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The Art of Handling Rejection


After so much time and work go into crafting the perfect resume, practicing interview rapport, and coordinating an interview outfit that manages to say, “I am professional, smart, and fun all rolled into one stylish package,” getting turned down for a job or internship can be devastating. Being upset is natural, but one rejection doesn’t mean total failure and shouldn’t discourage someone to the point of lying on the sofa all day and wearing pajamas until four in the afternoon. So here it is, the much needed pep talk to remind you to man up, roll up your sleeves, and dive back into the business world.

First and foremost, it is important to know proper post-interview etiquette in order to minimize the chance of being overlooked for a position. It is not unprofessional to ask the interviewer when a decision is expected to be made by. Just be sure to word it nicely. Saying “when do I start?” sounds presumptuous; go for a more humble approach. Having an idea of the employer’s timeline takes some of the stress of waiting out of the equation, and if they have not made a decision in that time frame, a follow-up email can be sent without the worry of sounding like a nag.

Follow-ups in general are a good idea post-interview. A quick e-mail two weeks after an interview can make a world of difference and can help gauge if you are still in the running. Even better: send the employer a hand written letter; employers love hand written letters.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 11.57.39 AMIf, however, the company decides to “go a different direction,” try not to let it keep you down for long, and definitely don’t let it discourage you in other interviews. Employers don’t know how many times you’ve been rejected before so don’t let it show.  Exude a confidence that makes them think job offers are pouring in.

Also, try to look at rejection as a learning experience – cliché I know, but mistakes are doomed to be repeated if they aren’t addressed. A great way to improve is to ask the interviewer for feedback. Not all will take the time to provide it, but many HR reps will be happy to give some insight on how you could improve or why you weren’t the best fit. Also, take some time for self-reflection. No one is perfect, and when you admit to your weaknesses, you can work towards overcoming then.

Rejection is hard. Especially when trying to enter into the professional world. But staying discouraged won’t do any good. When things look bleak, just remember that 242 banks turned down the owner of Starbucks before he could get a loan. And Walt Disney was forced to redesign the concept for Disney Land 302 times before having it approved. Rejection happens, but true power comes from knowing how to bounce back to bigger and better things.sean

“Sean MacLennan is a junior in the fitness specialist degree program with a minor in nutrition. She is the event and social media correspondent for IU Kinesiology Club, a UTA for the P215 physiology labs, and a monitor at the Briscoe Fitness and Wellness Center. She hopes to one day own her own wellness center to help people live full, happy, and healthy lives.”


Categories: Career Advice

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IUSPH Career Services

Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:

•career counseling
•job placement
•volunteer opportunities
•resume and cover letter preparation
•interview skills
•graduate school preparation

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