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Overcoming Job-Hunting Rejection

Having to look for a job wasn't supposed to happen to you.

You were nearing your company's inner circle. You had studied and sacrificed, met the right people, and made your mark. You were climbing the ladder; you had control. Business was booming; everyone was prospering; the potential was limitless.

And then the bubble burst…

Anger Starts Welling Up The call came before lunch. And you packed your box and made your farewells. You were stunned how it all collapsed so fast. Still, you had a severance package. A short break might be healthy, you reasoned. "With my track record, I'll land on my feet," you reassured yourself.

At first, you shrugged off the calls that weren't returned, the interviews that led nowhere. But now you're months into a job search. You're feeling pressured by everyone's questions. Your unemployment is drying up…and health insurance is bleeding you. The anger you managed to suppress for so long is welling up too. 'Don't they know what I've done, what I'm capable of? Why can't I find a job?'

The irony is, when things were going well, you lamented that you had "no time." Now, time is all you have. Like a lovesick teen, you fret over when to call employers back. It seems like you're overqualified for everything. Your mind flashes to images of living in cardboard houses…or peddling insurance to your friends. And you wonder if you're too old to start a business (if you could even get a loan).

Headlines Make Things Worse A job hunt is never fun. And the longer it goes on, the more stressful it becomes. The daily headlines about unemployment and the dismal news about the economy make it worse. You know there are more people chasing fewer good jobs. You wonder when—if—your prospects will start looking up.

The rejection can get really personal too. Putting so much into your job is part of what made you successful. And our jobs are often the outlet for our creativity, the place where we believe we make a difference. Culturally, our jobs are our identities. With each rejection, we lose a little more dignity. We're left with nagging doubts about ourselves, that time has passed us by, that we've already peaked.

With rejection, you can sulk, curse, give up, or lose your mind. Or, you can pick yourself up and apply these ideas: (Click here).
Jeff Schmitt is an online columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek. He has spent 17 years in sales, marketing, project management, training, legal compliance, and recruiting. You can reach him via e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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