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You Have Reached the Rejection Hotline…

The last time I read an article on rejection, it was written by a guy who worked at McKinsey and graduated from Stanford. I scoffed at it.

“Really? What does HE know about rejection?” I muttered to myself. All the advice and tips he gave seemed somewhat shallow, given his biggest rejection was probably from the glee club. This year has been a  particularly hard time for me in terms of rejection. Recalling last year, I can state that I was rejected a grand total of five times. I didn’t get on the project I wanted, nor did I make the committee I thought I surely had in the bag.

So here’s my take on bouncing back from professional rejection. Hopefully, I have the full credentials to tackle this on:

1. Mourn. It’s okay. It’s all right not to answer phone calls from friends who try to emphasize what you’re going through but pretty much think you’re crazy. It is also okay to focus on how many ferrero rochers you can down in one hour. Of course, it does not do wonders for photos at a friend’s wedding a few weeks later (this is coming from personal experience).

2. Figure out what went wrong. After an acceptable time period of mourning, try to understand what happened. Did your job interview not go as well as you expected? Was your essay to grad school a riddle? Were you too pushy and did it drive the person you networked with away? The best way to handle this is to talk to someone, an unbiased third party (preferably not your mother) who ideally works at the place you wanted to work, or attends the school you applied to, or just has more experience. At this point, I must advise you to brace yourself. You should be prepared to be criticized, laughed at or sometimes to get the answer “I don’t know what went wrong. What color was your outfit?” If anything, this is probably the MOST important step you need to take, and most rejectees never do. The most successful applicants I’ve ever met at jobs or at schools were previously rejected. Why? They were smart enough to go back and understand what went wrong, and then take the steps to rectify the problem. The individuals presiding at the decision table recognized this and were impressed, leading to an eventual admission or acceptance.

3. Contact the rejecter—only if you can or you’re allowed to. Personally, I always think it’s better to first talk to a third party, gauge what went wrong and then reach back out to the rejecter, if you are allowed to (keywords: allowed to) . Then analyze the feedback. Were your grades not strong enough in quantitative classes? Was it that you weren’t experienced enough? If it is allowed, send a letter, first thanking them for the interview process, and then approach them acknowledging your rejection, expressing your disappointment, and asking them to let you know of other opportunities.  Always be always graceful.  If you handle rejection with dignity, it only reflects well on you and enables you to take the higher road. It may also interest people in you in the future.

4. Try again. Take some time to reflect and try to improve upon the feedback that was given to you by implementing it. Then make another solid effort. Try to make your second attempt when you feel that you are fully ready to give it your best shot. It may be a year or two or maybe even three later. Try it when you are best able to.

5. Remember that when one door closes, another one opens. Unfortunately, there are times when a rejection is just that—a door completely closed. But remember that when one door closes, another one will open. Look again for opportunities in the places that you haven’t really looked at before. Explore more companies. Explore more schools. Someone will recognize your determination.

6. Believe in yourself. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basket ball team. Lucille Ball was told by her acting teachers that she wasn’t cut out to be an actress. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected 12 times. Imagine how many ferrero rochers that involved! See where they are today. It was likely their determination that got them further than any of their initial successes. I’m sure that the high school coach or those publishing companies are kicking themselves today. And if people like J.K. Rowling and Michael Jordan bounced back, you can too.

Good luck! Leave SAPNA Magazine any tips on how to handle rejection in the comments section.

—SHARMEEN NOOR

9 thoughts on “You Have Reached the Rejection Hotline…

  1. great insights!

    its better to move on, than waist time on someone that doesnt see the value in you!

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