How to deal with rejection when job-hunting

This month, Australia's most successful car manufacturer shed over 300 employees; ironically, Australia's strong economy was cited as the chief reason. It is a sad reality that, while the nation's unemployment levels are comparatively low, more and more Australians have simply given up the search for work, providing an unseen army of jobless and hopeless. In short, the seemingly endless series of rejections has worn them down.

For the job-seeker, this holds an important lesson: low unemployment rates do not necessarily make job-hunting easy. It is never easy. If it seems like an endless cycle of failure, then you need to read on. Being unemployed inevitably saps morale and self-belief. Your sense of autonomy and purpose can fade away. Here are some simple steps to help cope with this difficult experience.

First, and most obviously, you need to accept the reality of the lack of income and budget carefully. Pay attention to your spending and accept that now is not the time for luxuries. It may even be a blessing in disguise as you begin to truly appreciate how to economise. Eating healthily is often quite inexpensive – and an improved diet is almost always a source of improved mental health.

In relation to your self-esteem, it is vital that you not take rejection personally. For every job advertised, there are inevitably multiple candidates. Reflect on the interview and consider ways in which you could improve, but don't linger on negatives. Seek feedback where appropriate in order to learn from the experience and ask politely of the employer why you weren't offered the post. Remember, getting a job is equivalent to a single 'yes' amidst a series of 'no's'.

While it is important to pursue a career, consider short-term employment. This may be stocking shelves at a supermarket, but for those with appropriate skills, working as a 'temp' is often a practical solution. Indeed, some find 'temping' so attractive they do it permanently. Either way, short-term employment allows the cash to keep flowing in, provides you with time to explore your options and, perhaps, undertake courses that can complement your skill set. Look for 'stepping stone' jobs that might help you get the position you ultimately want. Voluntary work, too, is an excellent way of developing your CV.

Make the most of your free time. For perhaps the only time in your life you now have the time to explore the things you want to do. Make a list of all the things you would really like to do – employment-related or not, and follow through. Job-hunting is important, but it's not a 24-hour exercise. Indeed, it is vital to your prospects that you pursue the things that keep you active and enthusiastic. These things will show through in any interview. Don't let your life shrink down to the computer and the mobile - exercise, socialise, enjoy the outdoors. Finally get around to maintaining a garden. Remain active – it is a crucial element to retaining a positive outlook.

Ultimately, what is important is that you maintain the right outlook. Rejection is an event, not a person; accept that job-hunting necessarily involves a lack of success at times. That right job is out there – it just requires persistence and a positive outlook to find it.

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