How to Turn Rejection into Resiliency

Find out what you can do when you get turned down for your dream job, your business plan gets rejected, you don't land the promotion you wanted and other potential career deal-breakers.
How to Turn Rejection into Resiliency
Image credit: KARRASTOCK | Getty Images

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP
Founder of JaboTV, Media Personality, Keynote Speaker and Consultant
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from ’s book Unfiltered: How to Be as Happy as You Look on Social Media. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code LEAD2021 through 4/10/21.

There are universal truths when it comes to rejection. For one, not getting the job or promotion doesn’t define who you are or dismiss all you’ve accomplished. If you got passed over, it means the company or your boss needs more before they can know if you truly belong there and in that position. It’s also possible you just weren’t the right fit for this particular position at this point in time.

The competition for jobs and promotions today is fierce, especially if you’ve been stagnant for a few years. You have to be memorable and make a case for yourself. How do you do that? When you need to convince someone that you’re the best candidate, make sure you cover the basics:

  • Include your experience, from your days in the office to your time in the military.
  • Submit solid references.
  • Be clear about why you feel you are the best person for the job or promotional position.

The more of these boxes you can check, the easier it will be for a company to understand how much you want the position. If you’re missing items from this list, getting the job isn’t impossible. You just need to harder. You also may need to potentially give yourself more credit for your life experiences that relate to the skills required for the position. Here are some ideas:

  • Write down your relevant skills. Think about the skills required for the position you want. Now write them down and add some information about where you acquired each of the skills and what experiences you had to develop them.
  • Create talking points for your meeting, phone call, or other interactions. A great way to get a sense of what’s happening in the company is to check out its social media and publications, like its annual report, white papers, law review, or medical journal. Read up on what’s making headlines, not just for that company but also in the industry, so you can have a thoughtful conversation or digital interaction that goes beyond the mundane stuff.
  • Follow up. After your meeting, send the people you met a hand­written thank-you note. Often, the person you met will put it in your file.
  • Curate your file. When you work at a company, the HR depart­ment creates a file for you. Your annual reviews and any other information about you go into it. Be aware that there may be notes or items in your file you don’t know about. Keep copies of all your annual reviews so you can refer to them as you apply for promotions and other jobs outside the company.

Another universal about rejection: It’s not always about you. It could be about them. Your boss or the HR person hiring for the position may have had someone in mind -- and you don’t fit the avatar they envisioned. They could also have met three people before you that fit their idea of the perfect candidate, so by the time they got to you, they were already done looking. They just wanted to see who else was out there so they could confirm they’d made the right selection. They could also have had a quota to meet for the number of applicants they had to interview prior to making their decision.

Not taking it personally when you don’t get hired is a real challenge for many people. However, it’s essential to learn so you can rapidly move on to addressing another opportunity that might actually be better for you in the long run.

Another universal truth: personal satisfaction matters. So you didn’t get the first job or promotion you went for. Does that really mean you’re a complete failure? No! In fact, it may be a sign that you should step back and evaluate why you even wanted that job or promotion in the first place. More than a raise or better-paying job, personal satisfaction in our professional lives is more important than ever in today’s fast-moving world. The more satisfied we are at work, the more confident we tend to feel in our relationships at home, the sports we play, and the other activities we get involved in. Make sure you’re going for a new position for the right reasons so you can increase your satisfaction, not just your bank account.

And while you busy yourself with turning your lemons into lemonade and creating something positive out of your rejection, remember that just because one area of your life isn’t looking anything like your friends’ posts about how they’re “crushing it” at work doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to be proud of in other departments. Different aspects of our lives ebb and flow -- sometimes you’ll have a great day at work or get the big break you’ve worked so hard for. Other days, your personal life will shine while your career just sort of exists in the background. What’s most important is that you can find joy somewhere -- even while you’re waiting for the tide to turn in your direction.

It’s also important that you know your worth. Just because things don’t always go your way doesn’t mean you’re a complete and utter failure. It’s important to make sure you’re looking at yourself through the right lens, not comparing and despairing over what everyone else is posting about on social media or saying around the water cooler at work. Some days you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. Other days, you may feel like you just won a first-class ticket to the cellar, and you’ll have to find a way to stand back up, brush off your knees, and keep moving forward.

Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code LEAD2021 through 4/10/21.

More from Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur Select: A Fund For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs require more than just money, which is why we aim to empower you, as well as act as a catalyst for value creation.

Entrepreneur Insider members enjoy exclusive access to business resources for just $5/mo:
  • Premium articles, videos, and webinars
  • An ad-free experience
  • A weekly newsletter
  • Bonus: A FREE 1-year Entrepreneur magazine subscription delivered directly to you
Make sure you’re covered for physical injuries or property damage at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business

Latest on Entrepreneur