"Trying is the first step to failure." – Homer Simpson

Job hunting is a perpetual ego-kicking machine.

It doesn’t matter how many gold stars you received in school. Or, how many times your picture went up on the Employee of the Month wall. Unless you’re extremely lucky you’re bound to suffer through the sting of rejection at some point in your job search. Even the most talented, qualified, and experienced job seekers are told “no” sometimes.

Hopefully you have a strong sense of self, a healthy dose of self-confidence, and supportive people in your life. Rejection can still suck even if you’re armed with an arsenal of all three. It can shake us to the very core and cause us to question why we are even putting ourselves out there in the first place. We tell ourselves, “What’s the point? I might as well stay at my lousy job. At least it pays the bills.”

But, rejection does not have to be a job hunting death sentence. How does one pull themselves up by their proverbial boot straps?

I’m a big fan of lists. So, Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Admit that it sucks. You don’t have to rent a billboard. You don’t even have to tell your friends and family you received a rejection letter. In this day and age you don’t always receive that. You have every right to keep your lips sealed. What you need to do is reconcile any raw emotions you have with yourself. Moxie and gumption are great things, but it’s okay to say, “I’m angry/sad/frustrated/etc. I didn’t get that job. I think it would’ve been perfect for me.” Beating yourself up for being bummed is only going to make you feel worse.

2. Have a short memory. You feel bad. You realize you feel bad. Guess what? The sun will still come up tomorrow unless you’re Mayan and December 2012 is fast approaching. After drowning your sorrows in a vice of your choice throw that rejection letter in the trash. Open up the classified ads. That fantastic job isn’t going to wait for you to get back on your horse.

3. “Don’t drive angry” – Bill Murray, Groundhog Day. This may seem contradictory to point two, but make sure you are in the right frame of mind before you saddle up your horse again. Moping around for days isn’t going to help you, but neither is sending out applications when you feel dejected. I once sent off an application without proofreading at all because I was still reeling from a rejection letter I had received earlier in the day. At the time I didn’t see the point of putting my best foot forward since it didn’t seem to matter anyway. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And, doggonit, people like you. Remember that before clicking the submit button on your next application.

4. Take a closer look at your resume and cover letter. Rejection can be a push towards creativity. Whether you wrangle family, friend, foe, or you take a hard look yourself, make sure what you’re sending out is truly a great reflection of what you have to offer. I know rehashing through resumes and cover letters can be painstaking and mind-numbing, but it is completely necessary. Sometimes you have crafted a really good cover letter but a tweak to a word here or cutting out filler there can turn it from good to great. Sometimes you hit a patch of bad luck and a resume dipped in gold won’t do the trick. Just make sure you have laid all your cards on the table, including a well-polished cover letter and resume.

Always remember one positive thought each day: “Life only demands from you the strength you possess.”- Dag Hammarskjold

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