It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and while maintaining our levels of mental fitness are important all year round, in these challenging times it’s more helpful than ever to allocate a specific focus on our mental health. If you’re in the midst of a job search, knock-backs will almost certainly be a feature, especially as the Office for National Statistics claimant count has shown a rise of 856,000 to 2.1 million claiming unemployment benefit for April 2020, the biggest monthly rise since modern records began in 1971. We know that rejection can seriously bruise our egos, emotions and self-esteem, so the way you handle yourself during this time is important. Here are five strategies to help you cope with the hard knocks.
1. Use rejection as a springboard
Receiving a rejection can mean that confidence takes a real nosedive: few things feel worse. But it happens to almost every job searcher at least once. So, keep reminding yourself that job search rejection happens to everyone. It’s what you do next that counts. Use this as an opportunity to perfect your interviewing skills and analyse your approach. Rejection can be a springboard to success: the next role you apply for could present an even better opportunity.
2. Try a skills update
The trick is to keep your confidence high. If the job search isn’t breeding confidence then you need to find a way to increase and maintain your self-belief in other ways, for example by retraining in a new skill where there are more vacancies and increased chances of success. Update and polish your skills so that you can be certain that you have the skills companies are looking for. You could also investigate opportunities in new industries. Ask your recruitment consultant to go through your CV with you, to see if there are skills that can be updated. Focus on the positives: you can and will get the right role. It might take some time, but remember to maintain resilience and stay the course.
3. Remember it’s good to talk
Share the experience with your main supporters and champions in life: ask them what they would do in this situation. Approach the people in your life who can provide you with intelligent input; those whose opinions matter to you. They may tell you that it was not quite the right job or the right employer, which will allow you to put things in perspective. Stop listening to negative voices and try not to take it personally. Take advice from your recruitment consultant about which roles and industries are best suited to your skill set.
4. Take time to #bekind to yourself
Take a whole weekend off: play tennis with a friend, cook a nutritious meal, zoom your friends, go for a long walk in your local park, binge watch your top Netflix obsession. Don’t even think about the job search. Give your mind and your emotions a two-day break. While it’s not OK, or healthy, to give up, it is OK to take a break. This is a balancing act, where you need to #bekind to yourself. Be your own best friend and allow yourself time to ensure your mental and emotional state is in good shape to continue the job search, because strong physical and mental health, along with self-confidence, leads to success.
5. Keep going
Candidates often lose momentum with their search while waiting to hear if they got a particular job. It’s especially easy to fall into this trap if you think you’ve nailed the job interview. But it's never a good idea to stop looking until you’ve been offered – and accepted – a job. So, until you have something in writing, continue with your search. Finding other options, and receiving positive responses from interviewers, will soften the blow if you are rejected. You might also find a better offer, regardless of whether you land that particular job. It’s important to keep applying, networking, and working on your long-term career plan. If you do get a rejection, you won’t have to start from scratch with a brand-new search.