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Doubt, Rejection, and Stress: Make the Uncomfortable Comfortable... and Become a Resilient Candidate!

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Alexis Kuper

by Alexis Kuper

3rd-Year Student in Marketing

Here at the Telfer Career Centre, we talk a lot about how to become the best possible candidate, and how to perfect our resumé to get the job. However, sometimes you can do everything right and still not get hired. Although this is part of the game, it can still catch a lot of us off guard, especially the first time. Today, we’re going to discuss the imposter syndrome, dealing with rejection, building resilience, and my favorite tips for mindful job hunting.

Imposter Syndrome: Taming the Beast

Suffering from imposter syndrome is having the overwhelming feeling of being a fraud or doubting one’s abilities; it is the fear of being found out as a phony, the impression that you owe your success only to dumb luck. Although it is not formally considered as a mental illness, research shows that as many as 80% of adults have suffered from it in 2020. Job rejection can aggravate this feeling, making you believe that you didn’t really deserve your degree.

Here are a few things you can do to ease your anxiety:

1. Know that you are not alone. Corny, I know, but true nevertheless. Everyone feels like an imposter at some point: you are not the weak link. You’d be surprised by who’s also suffered from an imposter syndrome – even famous American poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has been quoted discussing her struggles with it.

2. Track and measure your success. Proper goal setting and tracking can do wonders for your productivity and confidence. Regular goal tracking will help you better define your key skills and weaknesses. So, instead of feeling like you’re bad at everything, take stock of your successes and show kindness to yourself by saying : “I may not have accomplished X yet, but I did accomplish Y and Z and that’s pretty cool.”

3. Say “Yes!” to new opportunities. When plagued with imposter syndrome, it’s easy to renounce new professional, educational, and extracurricular opportunities simply out of fear. By saying “yes” more often, you will: build networks, open doors, and increase your skill set. All these things will counteract your feelings of being a phony.

Building Resilience While Dealing With Rejection

Think about it: in the professional world, most people who dare to put themselves forward get rejected, not chosen. Knowing this does not make the experience more agreeable, but it put things in perspective. Fortunately, you can learn a lot from job rejection… and build your resilience in the process. First, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from recruiters: they might give you a generic response, but you can politely ask for more details. You put a lot of work into the process and deserve some sort of explanation.

True: Some employers simply won’t provide any feedback. When that happens, I see my rejection as dodging a bullet, as a refusal to provide feedback may signal a hostile work environment.

However, if you do receive feedback, take this opportunity to integrate these details to your personal development plan. It’s also possible – especially after a long string of rejections – that you need to refine your job search, tailor your resumé, or add certifications. Ask yourself if what you’re saying in interviews reflects what appears on your resumé, if you are including the right keywords and if you could take an additional course to stand out more.

Mindful Job Hunting

To finish off today, here are some of my top tips to remain mindful while job hunting (and living your everyday life):

  • Develop your “why”. By cultivating intention and purpose, you’re more likely to get interviews for relevant jobs. Think beyond “I need a job to make money,” and try to determine which industries interest you, what kind of impact you want to have, etc.
  • Stay present. Once you’ve received feedback, shift your thinking away from the past and focus on the present and the future. You may feel frustrated, but tweak your language: it’s not a matter of if you’ll get a job, but a matter of when.
  • Don’t overwork yourself. Job searching can become a full-time job if you let it. Pace yourself and set small, measurable goals to work towards instead of trying to bulk apply to 30 jobs at once.

If you are doubting yourself and are looking for ways to overcome past rejections and avoid future ones, look no further: make an appointment with the professionals at the Telfer Career Centre through Career Launch.