Handling rejection

Looking for work almost inevitably means facing rejection, especially in this economy. No matter how good you are, you’re not going to get every job you apply for. In the old days, it could be depressing to watch the rejection letters pile up. These days, you’re lucky if you even get a letter. How can you keep from becoming discouraged?

KSTP’s John Gross says the answer is to focus on your goals, not your problems. He’s been in the TV news business for more than 40 years as a sports photographer and feature reporter and has  national Emmys to show for it. But he also knows a little bit about failure.

Speaking at the NPPA Northern Short Course last weekend, Gross recalled the experience of being fired from a Detroit station at age 46 and having an agent refuse to even look at his tape because, she said, he was too old to be hired. So he sent out his own tapes–78 of them–before being offered a job in Ft. Wayne as a news photographer for $8 an hour. He took it, he says, because he wanted so badly to do what he loves. “If you look at your problems, they get bigger,” Gross says. Keep your eye on the goal, he advises, because “you get what you look for.”

Keeping a positive attitude isn’t easy, of course, but you can pick up a few tips on how to do it from people who face rejection daily–sales people. Jennifer Krinsky, a recruiter for Porter Group, tells the Washington Post, “Rejection is the price you pay for success.” How does she handle it? By not taking it personally and not dwelling on it. Yes, there are times when it really hurts. On those occasions, Krinsky says, she allows herself a “two-minute pity party” and then moves on. Sounds like good advice.

6 Responses

  1. handling rejection and constructive critisims will make someone alot stronger in the longrun.

  2. Another good post. It just proves that no matter how many times you’ve been turned down for job openings, it still only takes one job offer to get your career moving in the right direction.

  3. I agree with our friend, John Gross, one of the most positive-thinking people I know. Remaining positive worked well for me during the four months I was laid off from my job in Cleveland. I thought I had been picked up by ABC News and was waiting for the hiring manager to call me with an official offer, but the phone was silent. When I called the senior recruiter making the hiring recommendation, she was surprised I hadn’t been contacted by the hiring manager. Two hours later she called back to let me know an internal candidate had been taken.

    The dejection was softened by the fact that I had been placed on ABC’s “hot list”, but just days later ABC announced 200 layoffs and that included my HR recruiter. My hope to get in to the network was now gone.

    I applied like crazy to a number of openings in higher ed, local and network news outlets, and even to newspapers seeking to develop their video presence. Four months of this to the tune of crickets chirping. Nobody was interested, or at least that’s what I thought until I got a phone call from a cable news company in Florida. They wanted to talk to me. They flew me down and the next day offered me the job, which I took with humility and gratitude. (Thank you!)

    The things that kept me on the right track of thinking without sinking to the depths of depression:

    * My wonderful network of friends. They kept in touch with me via Facebook, Twitter, text messages, phone calls and an occasional free meal. They kept giving me leads and offered some freelance work when it was available. Social networking helped me to stay in touch with what has been transpiring with my profession. It also made me feel good to know I was not alone and abandoned.

    * My faith. I felt confidence that my burden would be lifted when the time was right. Spiritual guidance is an underused vehicle for getting things righted.

    * My children. I made certain to spend every moment of time I could with them. My last six years as a newsroom manager took a lot of time away from them. I’ve been enjoying the gift of time from the layoff.

    * Volunteer opportunities. I spent a lot of time with my Boy Scout troop (I’m an Assistant Scoutmaster) and church. Giving back to my community made me feel my time without work was not wasted.

    * Learning new tricks. I took this time to sign up for learning opportunities, honing my skills and diversifying my knowledge base. I signed up for free programs like “News University” through Poynter and spent a lot of time researching and charting my next career course.

  4. Thanks, Kim, for sharing your experiences. It’s tough being “on the beach,” even for a few months. Your story shows that what you do while job hunting is just as important as how you think. Staying engaged with others–friends, professional contacts, family, outside activities–can help keep you positive. Using newly available time to learn new skills can keep you sharp and make you more valuable to your next employer.

    The people who just hired Kim no doubt realize they’re getting an employee who brings more to the table than he would have before being laid off. I’m not sure Kim would put it this way but others, including John Gross, have told me recently that being fired is the best thing that ever happened to them. It’s never fun and it can sap your self-esteem. But it can also open up new avenues you never thought you’d explore.

  5. Agreed. That’s why it’s important to be flexible, and learn to be open to new opportunities, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at the time.

  6. […] Journalism — kfatica @ 1:45 PM Back on March 24 I had been reading Deborah Potter’s “Advancing the Story” blog on handling rejection and it inspired me to leave a comment. Having been unemployed for four months after a layoff has […]

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