Most people think rejection from employers is the most emotionally painful part of job hunting. It’s not. After graduation, I was unemployed for several months in the midst of an economic downturn. During that tough time, I learned many painful lessons. Rejections from companies was hugely disappointing, however there was something even more painful, which I felt on a daily basis.

Job rejection | Ian Jenkins

When I graduated from college, I looked to the future with a twinkle in my eye. My optimism was shattered when Microsoft announced it’s first profit warning in a decade.This started the fast decline in the tech sector in what we now call the ‘ bubble’. Although it happened many years ago, the financial crisis of 2007-2009 and the oil industries trouble in 2015 all share the same characteristics – lay-offs, slashed hiring budgets, and extraordinarily difficult job-hunting conditions.

Free buffets aren’t for everyone

job rejection | Ian JenkinsOne of the advantages of being a graduate is that companies come to the university with job openings. Given my Masters degree in Strategy many of my peers were aiming for consulting gigs. Despite their delicious buffets at recruiting events, the consulting life wasn’t for me.

After the ‘dead-ends’ at the job fairs, I focused my search on the popular online job bulletins. I found very few jobs in the tech sector, which is where I had stubbornly decided to focus my job hunt. (Remember this sector was firing people by the thousands. One might say I was naive.) As the number of rejections piled up, two things happened.

First, my search went wider. I started to apply for jobs that had less to do with my skills and interests and more to do with simply getting a paycheck. My bank account was thinning faster than my hairline. I was getting desperate.“Just get a job and then keep looking for a job”, is what I told myself.

Second, I became a recluse. I searched for jobs online, day and night. I wrote and rewrote every resume umpteen times. My cover letters had more effort behind them than my thesis. Every word was carefully written and checked again. I was stretching each task to fill the available time. Sound familiar?

Rejection: Dark times get darker

Since I was an American living in Norway, my poor Norwegian language skills significantly limited my job opportunities. I had also decided to work in the most depressed industry at the time. I was aiming for the near impossible. (Did I mention I was naive?)

Job rejection | Ian JenkinsAs Fall rolled in, the daylight hours got noticeably shorter in Oslo. With only a few hours of grayness in the afternoons, it was hard to get excited about anything. By this time I had faced 52 rejections. As if to punish myself further, I limited my exposure to light to the glow from my computer screen.

Emotionally I was nearing an all time low. I had been rejected every time I extended my hand and had isolated myself to “focus more on the job hunt”. What I was really doing, is avoiding the most painful part of job-hunting – especially when you’re an unemployed job-hunter.

If you’ve been in a similar situation, you know what it is. It’s that moment when close friends and family ask, “How’s the job searching going?” That question hurt more than anything else.

What little confidence I had left was being chipped away each day that simple question. Admitting defeat and failure to those close to me was painful.

I knew they meant well, but they were emotionally closer to me than any company or organization I had applied to. Having to answer that question everyday from caring friends and family was truly the most difficult part of my job hunt.

Desperate times, desperate measures

Job rejection | Ian JenkinsRejection #63 changed everything for me. When I couldn’t even land an interview to be a paperboy in the neighborhood, I knew the problem wasn’t me. It was my job-hunting approach that needed an ‘extreme makeover’.

I got so desperate, that I listened to the career advice of a college professor. Now that’s desperate! He introduced me to an unconventional job-hunting approach, one that changed my life. Within a week, my 100% rejection rate changed to a 100% acceptance rate. I was getting each and every meeting I requested with a hiring manager. I filled my calendar with meetings for the coming weeks and found my dream job without any competition.

I went on to re-use this amazing job-hunting approach during three major job shifts in my career. As a result of my success, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to share my experiences for with other job-hunters for the past 13 years. It’s provided tremendous satisfaction helping job-hunters from around the world create their own career breakthroughs using the same simple strategies I used. It’s my way of ‘paying it forward.

Thank you for reading.

– Ian Jenkins

Searching for your next job opportunity can be filled with excitement, disappointment and frustration. As the emotional roller coaster wears on, how do you stay motivated when there is no end in sight in your job hunt? Here are some favorite motivators that can keep you going, when the going gets tough.

Get out!

Although it’s tempting to stay inside and focused on finding a job, your productivity drops after 90 minutes. Take a break and get out! A favorite respite from the trenches of job hunting is to step outside and exercise. A power walk in the neighborhood, a jog along the harbor-side, or a bike ride through a nearby forest can be a dynamite re-energizer.

The ironic part about exercising is that the best time to do it is when you have the least amount of energy. You may find that your best job hunting ideas and decisions come when you’ve created distance from your desk.

Watch the Tube

Sometimes you need a short burst of motivation to get your resume finished, polish a cover letter or make a call to a hiring manager which you’ve been putting off. YouTube has a great assortment of motivational boosters. The catch is not to get sucked in watching endless Fail Compilations because they were ‘Recommended For You’.

There are two channel types to check out. The first are videos of ordinary people who surprise you with an extraordinary talent. Shows like the ‘X Factor’, can remind us all that there is the extraordinary in all of us.

Job Hunt Tip
Job Hunt Tip: Watch inspirational clips on Youtube

The other channel to consider is pure, unfiltered motivation. Type in ‘motivational video’ on YouTube and you’ll be greeted with awesome compilations combining famous speeches, legendary movie clips, and music to pump you up and get you energized again. Play this in the background while you finalize the details of an important email, letter or resume and you’ll feel like you’ve already landed the job.

Hang-out, don’t hang-up

There are two categories of job searchers, those who have a job and want something better and those who are unemployed and looking for a job. When you’re the latter, it can be hard to meet with friends because they frequently ask, “How’s the job search going?”

Job Hunt Tip
Job Hunt Tip: Keep in touch with friends

If you’ve been unemployed for several months, you may find yourself dodging friends so you can avoid that question. Although they ask because they care, answering surfaces a feeling of defeat. It’s natural to start declining the invites more than accepted them.

However friends can be the very people, who introduce you to the next opportunity, reshape your perspective and provide the reassurance that you’re not alone.

Have a Plan B

Richard Bolles, author of the best selling job-hunting bible, What Color Is Your Parachute, advises his followers to always have a Plan B. A strategy of hope isn’t a good job-hunting strategy and can often lead to a dead-end. He offered this valuable advice on a recent blog post.

“People who are not good at job-hunting tend to fixate on just one way of doing things.”

Bolles recommends staying motivated by following the approach of good job-hunters who create alternatives using this advice.

  • Instead of just focusing on job-titles, they can name their individual skills.
  • Instead of just field-titles, they can describe their favorite interests.
  • Instead of just large organizations, they target small organizations also.
  • Instead of just going after vacancies, they go after any place that interests them.

The proactive job hunt

Most job hunters spend weeks searching for jobs, applying online and hoping for an interview. What if you flipped the job hunt and started with interviews? Only if you liked the job and the company, you would subsequently apply for a role. This is the approach I teach my students to use.

Discovering how to consistently land meetings with hiring managers is the secret to creating breakthroughs in a career change. The feeling that comes with filling your calendar with interviews will boost your confidence and increases your chances of find a job by 21 times.

Thank you for reading.

– Ian Jenkins