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Joe Szynkowski: Losing gracefully isn’t easy
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Joe Szynkowski: Losing gracefully isn’t easy

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Next Sunday’s Super Bowl will end the National Football League’s season with one ultimate winner and 31 losers. The average job announcement in America culminates in one winner and 200-plus losers.

Just like a professional football team in the big game, you work hard to reach the final job interview with a target company. That’s why it’s difficult to keep an even keel when you receive the dreaded “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” email.

Rejection is inevitable in the job search process. When it happens, it’s easy to climb under the covers, grab a giant bowl of ice cream and feel sorry for ourselves (which is exactly what I did when my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Cleveland Browns).

And while that approach is fine for a day — don’t judge me — the next great job opportunity will go to the candidate who is the most aggressive and dedicated to winning the role.

Temper your expectations

According to Glassdoor, one out of 250 applicants will get a job. That means for every job that is posted, 249 people minimum are going to be rejected. With so many Americans laid off and looking for work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of applicants per position has greatly increased.

Use this fact to your advantage when applying for jobs. Understanding that finding a new role is simply a numbers game can keep you from tying your identity to your resume or job search process.

This doesn’t mean to flippantly send your resume in for every job opening on the market. Be intentional with your search and only apply for roles that fit your experience and skillset. Write custom cover letters and follow up after interviews with handwritten letters of thanks.

In the end, it’s the little things that will separate you from your competition.

Rebound from rejection

When you do receive a “thanks, but no thanks” letter from a company, there are some easy ways to quickly recover.

Think positively: Easier said than done, but do not lose confidence in your abilities. Move on to the next job announcement while remaining positive and focused on your task at hand.

Ask for feedback: Many companies send out automated messages to rejected candidates. If you interviewed with the company and built a relationship with the hiring manager, don’t be afraid to ask him or her for specific reasons you weren’t selected for the job.

Talk about it: Share your rejection with your friends or family members. Leaning on your connections is much healthier for your mental health than keeping it all pent up inside.

Famous rejection stories

One of the most effective ways to deal with rejection is to realize you’re not alone. Consider these rejection stories of some of the world’s most successful business icons.

Steve Jobs: In 1985, Jobs was fired from the company he founded when Apple’s board of directors removed him. After starting another business and purchasing the then-small animation studio Pixar, he returned to Apple and set it on the course to become one of the most valuable publicly traded companies the world has ever seen.

J.K. Rowling: The author’s original Harry Potter book was famously turned down 12 times before Bloomsbury agreed to publish it. Today, more than 500 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold worldwide and more than 180 million copies have sold in the U.S. alone.

Elon Musk: One of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs and business leaders was fired from his job as PayPal’s CEO. Not allowing this to stop him, he went on to co-found Tesla, SpaceX and other successful companies.

There are countless other stories of now-famous business leaders using rejection to fuel later success in their business lives.

So, as you continue to progress in your job search, remember that rejection is not permanent. What counts is how you react and rebound from these significant moments in your professional life.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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