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How to Deal With Rejection When Job Hunting

Just because someone tells you you're not the only job seeker who didn't get an offer, it doesn't make it easier to swallow the rejection. Of course, you're not the only one -- if you were, the decimal point in the unemployment numbers would be far to the left. Dealing with rejection isn't just about ignoring the job offers you didn't get. It's also about turning a negative into a positive and learning from your interview experience.

RELATED: 7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Your Job Search

Rejection Can Happy at Any Stage

There could be a reasonable explanation if you're sure you're qualified for a job and get an immediate rejection. Your application may have been incomplete, or the employer may have had a limited number of applications it would consider. In either case, make a follow-up call to the human resources department to learn why your application was rejected. You might find out you forgot to sign your application or that you missed the cutoff date. For future applications, remind yourself to pay attention to detail, proofread your application and read job postings carefully so that you don't miss another deadline.

Read the Nonverbals

During an interview, you often can sense if you've given the wrong answer or if it appears the interviewer just isn't thrilled with your responses. When this happens, avoid emotionally shutting down or throwing in the towel -- continue to answer the interviewer's questions and maintain your enthusiasm about the job. You might be right about those nonverbal cues, but based on your interview style and demeanor, the interviewer might keep you in mind for future openings. "Look at the interviews as practice -- dress rehearsal, if you will -- for good things to come," says Margaret Fisher, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Fisher Solutions Group. "The more you do it, the better you become." At the end of the interview, tell the recruiter how much you appreciate her time and the opportunity to be considered for the job. Then send a follow-up thank-you note within 24 hours. In that note, don't try to second-guess the interviewer by suggesting that rejection is forthcoming because you don't really know at this point. Fisher says some hiring managers have been known to reconsider an applicant they were going to reject based on a well-written thank-you letter.

Multiple Eggs, Multiple Baskets

The saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," couldn't be more appropriate than for a job search, but it does mean you have to prepare for multiple rejections. Fisher says to deal with this proactively by exploring all your options. "Avoid creating such a narrow search that you're disappointed when you don't get an interview or a job offer from one position on which you had your heart set," Fisher says. "And deal with rejection on the front end of your job search by accepting the fact that rejection is a reality in every job search."

Playing the Numbers

Even when the unemployment rates were pretty low, the ratio of interviews to applications was roughly one to four according to Fisher. Although changes to the economy shifted the numbers a bit, 2013 research by Jacquelyn Smith, a staff writer for "Forbes," showed about 25 of an approximate 120 or so applicants got called in for an interview. Translation: Don't take a rejection personally. "At the end of the day, it's all about the numbers and employers aren't rejecting you for any other reason than for the other 75 percent or so whose qualifications meet their needs," says Fisher.

RELATED: Why You Still Haven't Gotten a Job

Get Professional (or Friendly) Help

If you've been on a job search for far too long without even a hint of employer interest, look at your approach and seek help. Just asking a friend to review your resume and cover letter lends another set of eyes to see how you're coming across to prospective employers. Also, another perspective may see errors you may have overlooked. Many recruiters and hiring managers immediately reject applicants who don't take the time to proofread their application materials. Even better, see if you have contacts in the HR field or a recruiter who can review your resume and make suggestions for improvement, based on her professional expertise and hiring experiences. If you're willing to invest more money in your job search, a career coach can advise you on your resume, cover letter and interviewing techniques. For example, an executive job search coach can help you understand the nuances of today's workplace, writes Chuck McConnell, a managing partner at Stewart, Cooper & Coon, a Phoenix-based coaching firm.

Photo via AdamGregor/iStock/Getty Images

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