Five Ways to “Rejection-Proof” Your Career


If you are looking for work now, or ever will in the future, then remember this: No matter what your role or industry, congratulations, you are now in sales! The process of looking for work, whether it is a new job, the next promotion, or a new contract assignment, is based on selling your skills and strengths.

The path to a successful sale is littered with rejection. At every decision point along the path, from application to offer letter, from new prospect introduction to signed contract, you risk the possibility of rejection. Will you make it through the first cut? Will you have an opportunity to present your skills and ability to solve the problem directly to the hiring manager? Does your boss understand what a great job you will do once you get that long-desired promotion? Will your unique abilities to solve the pain of your new prospect help you win that new contract?

While you can’t control the outcome of each step along the way, you can increase your competitive edge and take steps to reduce the chance of rejection. What’s more, you can take important steps to fortify yourself against the negative impacts of rejection, and ensure your ability to stay the course and bounce back.

    • Conquer your fears. What stands in the way of your success? Does the thought of networking or using social media like LinkedIn in your career strategy or job search stop you dead in your tracks? Go beyond your comfort zone and adapt to a new technology or learn a new and relevant skill. You will be pleasantly surprised by the boost in your confidence and will position yourself more competitively in the job market.
    • Get comfortable with marketing yourself. Develop the habit of documenting your successes. Save performance reviews, client “thank you” letters, and industry awards. These are credible proof points that can help you define career accomplishments and demonstrate your unique value proposition.
    • Give yourself more options. Instead of limiting yourself to job postings, go proactive and fill your opportunity pipeline just like the best salespeople do. Build connections to the people and companies you admire. That way, when it is time to hire, your name is top of mind. If job openings don’t exist now, define the solutions you can offer, and create the next job opportunity
    • Learn to ask for help. Self-marketing involves a entire range of skills that may seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Get input from respected peers and mentors on new career directions and networking techniques. Consider engaging a career coach to accelerate your knowledge in the areas of highest challenge.
    • Increase your resiliency and adaptability. What can you do to bounce back more quickly if all your best efforts don’t result in a job offer or that prized promotion? How can you more readily adapt to change? What can you do to reinvent yourself in this era of the career free-agent?


That last question may well point to the most important ingredient in rejection-proofing your career. Resiliency means that you don’t take it personally when the hiring process doesn’t move as quickly as promised, or you are overlooked for the promotion. The most resilient people acknowledge disappointment and bounce back quickly with new knowledge, skills, and strategies.

The bottom line on rejection-proofing your career is gaining self-mastery and taking a proactive approach to managing your career. By looking at the demand curve ahead and seizing the opportunities that are inherent in times of volatility, you can lead the way to innovation and find yourself happily in demand.