Is Fear of Rejection a Motivator or Hindrance in Your Job Search?
By Dumont Gerken Owen, Ph.D.
NABBW’s Women and Work Expert

The job search has been described as a series of “no’s” followed by a “yes”.  In other words, rejection is an inevitable part of every job search.  It’s your response to rejection that will influence the momentum and success of your job search.

I am reminded of an incident that happened to my mother many years ago.

While she was out riding, her horse took the bit in his mouth and headed “lickety-split” back to the barn. This particular barn had divided doors that opened on the top and bottom similar to Dutch doors on a house.  Unfortunately for my mom, the top door was closed.

Of course the horse made it through just fine.  It was my mother who was “scraped” off his back…Ouch!

Did Mom stop riding?  Heck no! (She’s my mom after all.)  She jumped right back on that horse and rode out of that barn (after opening both doors).  By facing her fears, learning from and surmounting them, she was able to enjoy many more years of riding.

Finding a job is like riding a horse.  If you give into rejection, it can stop you in your tracks. However, if you face your fears directly, the chances of continued fear are greatly reduced. Rejection does not have to derail your job search, but you have to face your fears and overcome them in order to keep your momentum going.

Here are a few suggestions to consider when fear of rejection slows your job search to a crawl or stops it in it’s tracks.

Evaluate your fears.
Are you basing your fears on reality?  It’s easy to generalize one negative experience to your whole job search. This will only keep you stuck in self-doubt.  Are you over-reacting to a solitary experience or reacting to a series of rejections?  A solitary experience could mean anything at all, and it may have nothing to do with your qualifications or job search skills.  Factors that are out of your control may be in operation.  If, however, you experience many rejections your fears may have a basis in reality.

Look for any negative patterns.
Identify and learn from your mistakes.  Remember, everyone makes mistakes:  The trick is to evaluate them, learn from them from them and move on.  Don’t let the barn door defeat you. If it’s a single occurrence, recognize it as such.  If you have a series of job search rejections and disappointments it may be time to evaluate your fears, approach them as challenge and find a way to overcome them.

One day at a time.
All you have is today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unknown. Ruminating over past rejections or obsessing over the future will only deepen your fears and make them more difficult to overcome.  Learn from the past and create goals for the future, but focus on what you can do today.

Take opinions for what they are.
Some say that 50% of people you meet will disapprove of you know matter what.  With this in mind it is unproductive to base your self-esteem on other’s opinions. You are the expert on you. The opinions of others are just that…opinions.  Consider the advice of others as clues to discovering your own special attributes.  Remember that other’s opinions are just that…they can help or hinder your job search depending on their accuracy and their relevance to your goals.

In the end, only you can identify your fears, reframe them, and see them as learning experiences that can fortify your self-esteem can prepare you for future challenges.  Shut the door on negatives and open yourself to new experiences.  You’re in for the ride of your life; don’t let your fears stop you when you “hit the door”.  Redefine your fears as challenges and enjoy the ride.

Dumont puts the Zoom in Boomer Careers!

A Certified Career Management Coach, her mission is to inspire experienced professionals to realize their unique passions and qualifications, and provide them with strength, resources, and strategies to achieve their job search or career transition.

She has a background in recruiting and directing university career centers spanning over 20 years. As with many of her clients, however, she came to a point where the career she had worked so hard to build wasn\’t working for her anymore. It was one of those “aha” moments! Dumont realized that her true passion was using my expertise to help others. That\’s why she started coaching… to assist others in living their true passion!

Learn more about Dumont on her website, Career Windows Online, or contact her directly via email or phone: (216) 321-1268.  Dumont lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Dumont puts the Zoom in Boomer Careers! Her mission is to inspire experienced professionals to realize their unique passions and qualifications, and provide them with strength, resources, and strategies to achieve their job search or career transition.