As I hit the “Submit” button, I felt a thrill of excitement. I was really proud of this job application, and I felt sure I’d be called in for an interview. Yet as weeks passed, I gave up on hearing back and found my enthusiasm replaced with crushing uncertainty. For me, hearing nothing from an employer can be just as hard as an outright rejection, and this can keep me stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts that prevent me from forging ahead.
So many people applying for jobs are dealing with companies “ghosting” them, and this generates considerable self-doubt. When you put a lot into an application and get no response, it can leave you drained and rejected, even if it’s likely nothing personal. It’s no secret that the current job market is very competitive. According to these statistics from Glassdoor, each corporate job posting receives 250 applications. That’s a lot for a hiring manager to process. Often, no response has less to do with your application and more to do with timing and chance.
This situation can make it tempting to give in to negative thinking. Dwelling on negative thoughts is not only emotionally taxing, but it can prevent us from continuing to confidently search for a job we will truly enjoy. It is possible to take back control from these thoughts by reframing them. Once we start asking questions that empower us to take action, we can start thinking outside the box and arming ourselves with information—about the hiring process, job market, and ourselves.
During my own experience of not hearing from employers, I found that my mind was swarming with unhelpful thoughts like “Am I good enough?” I was tired of feeling this way, and I worried that if I didn’t change my outlook, I would end up jobless or stuck at a job that that really didn’t suit me out of desperation (something I had done in the past). After talking to a coach, I realized that there may be other actions I could take besides what I had tried. Instead of letting my thoughts keep me stuck in my rut, I decided to try something new and turn these thoughts into calls to action:
“How did people I know find their jobs? What actions did they take?”
“What concrete things can I improve in my applications?”
“What are my blind spots? What don’t I know yet (about the industry, company, application process) that I could learn?”
“Is there another way of getting my foot in the door?”
“Maybe those jobs really weren’t a good fit for me; what do I really want?”
When I saw that I could learn from my dead-end job application experiences, I felt more hopeful to change my situation. I realized that there were little things I could do right now—talk to friends for advice, learn more about the industries and companies that interested me, reexamine my long-term goals—that would give me productive energy and inspiration. Even reading articles like the one cited above left me feeling empowered, simply because I now had more information about what I was up against.
How we view and respond to “failure” can be the difference between allowing it to stop us in our tracks and using it to propel us forward. Viewing rejection as a personal shortcoming that we cannot recover from only hurts us. Taking a growth mindset, viewing setbacks as learning experiences that we can grow from, is the key to empowering ourselves to rise and meet these challenges head-on.
So far, the most useful things I have learned about the job hunt are that you shouldn’t take anything personally, and you should continually arm yourself with information. When negative thoughts creep in, acknowledge them. Validate them. And then see if you can reframe these thoughts into questions of what actions you can take next. It all starts with shifting your mindset.