Getting a dreaded ‘no’ in response to a job you really wanted can put a real ding in your confidence. It’s easy to let the rejection get to you, making you beat yourself up or feel like a failure, but being knocked back isn’t really as bad as you might think. With a bit of perspective you can learn to take these setbacks on the chin and turn them into a learning opportunity.
When you approach the situation from the point of view of ‘what can I learn from this?’ you’ll find there are plenty of things you can take from the experience that will help you grow and ultimately develop your interview performance, giving you greater success in the future.
Here are my top tips for bouncing back from being turned down.
1. Look on the bright side
At the very least you can chalk this whole episode up to experience. Many people suck at interviews purely because they haven’t had a lot of practice at them. Some people stay in jobs far longer than they should, simply because they are too scared to put themselves ‘out there’ and risk rejection on the job market. You on the other hand are brave enough to give it a go, and with every interview you do you’re honing your skills in this vital area.
2. It’s their loss!
I know, this is what your mum used to say to you when you got dumped in high school… but hey, there’s a great grain of truth in this message. If you performed at your absolute best in this interview and they still didn’t want to hire you, then they are not the right crew for you to be working with anyway! Clearly you’re great – so if they don’t want you working with them, that’s their problem, and you wouldn’t want to work with a bunch of people who wouldn’t appreciate what you bring to the table.
3. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Yes OK, this might seem a bit melodramatic – but that’s my point – this is not a life or death situation. A bit of rejection here and there is great for keeping your ego in check and developing the kind of resilience you need in this tough industry. Get all Rocky on the situation: “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
4. Correct your stroke
From the boxing ring to the golf course – I’m putting you through your paces in this article! By this I mean don’t keep making the same mistakes, if you can help it – and you CAN help it. Try to get some feedback from either the person who interviewed you, or the crew agent involved if there was one, about your interview performance. Where did you go right and where did you go wrong? Until you find out what adjustments to make in your approach you’re going to keep ending up in the rough and after a while this will become a serious handicap (sorry, just getting my mileage out of the analogy!).
5. Fill in the gaps
Often the reason for rejection is simply that you are lacking a certain skill or qualification that one or more of your competitors had. This is the best reason for rejection because it’s one you can easily do something about! If you keep bumping up against one of these barriers it’s time to invest in gaining the courses/qualifications you need to help you step up and over them next time.
6. Check your aim
Are the positions you are aiming for within your reach or are you aiming too high/low/far away from your current skill and knowledge base? Perhaps you are setting yourself up for failure by trying to make an impossible leap when an interim stepping stone would help you make that transition more easily.
7. Are nerves getting the better of you?
Often the very thought of a job interview is enough to make many people break out into a cold sweat and it could be that your nervousness is coming across and undermining your interview performance. The great thing about this is that it’s easy to address! There are plenty of techniques you can master with the help of a coach or equivalent professional that can eradicate those nerves once and for all so you present as the cool, calm collected candidate you really are.
8. Are you hiding your light under a box full of bushels?
Some cultures value modesty more than others, but sometimes modesty is a hindrance, not a help. I often work with candidates who simply struggle to present their strengths powerfully and convincingly as they have been conditioned from a young age to downplay their achievements. Obviously I’m not advocating you turn into an overnight egomaniac but an interview is all about painting pictures in the interviewer’s mind about what you will actually be able to do for them in their team – so you need to help them put flesh on the bones of those images or they will be left feeling you are not substantial enough to satisfy their needs.
9. Adopt an attitude of gratitude!
This can be difficult, but it is essential for your development and future growth. Even if this job application didn’t go the way you wanted it to, in your mind you need to thank the people involved for deciding against you. For reasons that are not clear to you right now, this job is not the right move for at this moment in time and something better is just around the corner. Send a gracious email thanking either your interviewer or the crew agent you are in contact with for their feedback and let them know that you appreciate this as a way to improve yourself. This will make a really positive impression that could even result in putting you back in the running for other positions you might otherwise have been withdrawn from. It could also mean that if their first choice for the position turns it down or is unavailable – you become next in line for the job!
And finally - keep your chin up and keep going: never, ever, ever, give up! To finish with some wise words from Sylvester Stallone himself: “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” You can do it!
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Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See www.thecrewcoach.com for more information.