What to do When More Doors are Closing than Opening

25 Mar

I have been rejected for more positions that I care to admit to. Sometimes after an interview, but usually without even getting an interview. I have been rejected from positions that I am way overqualified for, positions that seem to be the “perfect fit”, and a whole range of positions in between.If you have nine out of ten of the qualifications for a position, there is likely a candidate who has all ten, plus two more that the company didn’t even know they were looking for.  I have tried staffing agencies, recruiters, and even Craigslist. I often get email rejections months later for positions that I forgot I had even applied for. If you are unemployed and in an extended job search, no doubt you have had similar experiences. It can be difficult to deal with what seems like constant rejection after a while. What should you do when it feels like more doors are closing than opening?

  1. Pause. Take a breather and reflect on all the work that you have done, and the connections that you have made. If you have had interviews, remind yourself that you were chosen to be interviewed out of hundreds, and potentially thousands of applicants. That in and of itself is an accomplishment (sort of like being nominated for an oscar and not winning, only much less glamorous).
  2. Remember your Strengths. Don’t get bogged down with all of the rejection. Remind yourself that you are an extremely valuable candidate, and you have many strengths and talents. Make a list of what you see as your strengths, and ask friends for input. Maybe you have skills that you haven’t been using (like writing), and that insight could take you down a different path.
  3. Reevaluate. Spend some time looking at your job search strategy and thinking about whether or not you need to tweak your approach, or be more bold. Ask for feedback from friends or trusted contacts on your resume and cover letters. Consider the types of jobs that you are applying for, and whether or not you should be focusing your efforts in another way. Is it time to strike out on our own? Is it time to seek some additional education or training?
  4. Get an Accountability Partner. If you are feeling stuck and frustrated in your job search, get an accountability partner who can help you stay focused and keep on track. This partner could be someone who is also unemployed and looking for a job, or it could be a good friend. Or maybe you need more than one accountability partner. Check-in weekly with your accountability partner to share updates, and strategies for you continuing job search. Make sure you pick a partner who is willing to be brutally honest with you when needed and give you constructive criticism when necessary.
  5. Read Success Stories. It always helps me to read success stories about people who have survived unemployment, and in many cases ended up better off after the experience. Or, if you know people who have been successful after a long job search, find out what worked for them.
  6. Visualize Your Dream Job. Don’t minimize your talents and skills. Continue to aim for your dream job, but recognize that there may be bumps along the road in getting there. Put in writing what your ideal job looks like. What would you expect for a salary? What type of environment would you be working in? Who would your coworkers be? What would your role be? What skills would you get to use on a daily basis?
  7. Keep Going. Eventually a door will open or you’ll create you own door to walk through. Keep taking small, and large steps to get there, and remember that you will be ok. You’ll be more than ok, and likely better off because of this experience.

photo credit: Luz Adriana Villa A. via photopin cc


5 Responses to “What to do When More Doors are Closing than Opening”

  1. Razwana March 26, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Lisa – there is a fine line between the emotional impact of rejection and the critical analysis of the strategy. A lot of people will carry on doing things that don’t work, in the hope that their job search is a numbers game, and one day it will work out.

    Yes, one day it WILL work out, but the strategy applied is of great importance. Your post on being bold was on point, and I would add that the connections you make are key to driving a job search forward. This works both in the short term, and the long term. Blindly applying for a job after job without knowledge of the recruiter is a losing battle and a waste of time.

    What strategy are you applying? What have you learned so far?

    – Razwana

    • Lisa M. March 26, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Razwana, thanks for your comment. One positive about doing an extended job search is that you get better at the process as time goes on. I agree that connections are the key, and I’ve learned that I need to be more aggressive in trying to track down the recruiter or the hiring manager, even if I don’t have a direct connection that that person. I would say that “selling myself” is not inherently in my nature so that has been a learning curve for me.

      • Razwana March 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

        I am with you on the ‘selling myself’ thing – it’s something we are not taught to do. Well, I don’t think I’m a natural at it, anyway. However, I do believe that a job search done right involves no actual selling; just intelligent, relevant conversation.

        – Razwana

  2. ricksamer66 March 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I feel your pain. Same thing here. I am happy if they take the time to reject me.
    Anyone doubting a job crisis in California might consider the hundred + applicants who appeared for a low-wage customer service job in Los Angeles. Read a personal account here: http://survivingtermination.wordpress.com/

    • Lisa M. March 27, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      Thank you Rick. The number of people who fight for customer service jobs like this certainly shows that there are still a lot of people hurting in this economy.

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