The job search has been described as a series of “no’s” followed by a “yes”.  In other words, rejection is an inevitable part of every job search.  It’s your response to rejection that will influence the momentum and success of your job search.

I am reminded of an incident that happened to my mother many years ago.   While she was out riding, her horse took the bit in his mouth and headed “lickety-split” back to the barn.  This particular barn had divided doors that opened on the top and bottom similar to Dutch doors on a house.  Unfortunately for my mom, the top door was closed.  Of course the horse made it through just fine.  It was my mother who was “scraped” off his back…Ouch!  Did Mom stop riding?  Heck no!   She opened both doors, jumped right back on that horse and rode out of that barn.   By facing her fears, learning from and surmounting them, she was able to enjoy many more years of riding.

Finding a job is like riding a horse.  If you give in to rejection, it can stop you in your tracks.  However, if you face your fears directly, the chances of continued fear are greatly reduced.  Rejection does not have to derail your job search, but you have to face your fears and overcome them in order to keep your momentum going.  Here are a few suggestions to consider when fear of rejection slows your job search to a crawl or stops it in it’s tracks.

Evaluate your fears.  Are you basing your fears on reality?   It’s easy to generalize one negative experience to your whole job search.  This will only keep you stuck in self-doubt.   Are you over-reacting to a solitary experience or reacting to a series of rejections?   A solitary experience could mean anything at all, and it may have nothing to do with your qualifications or job search skills.  Factors that are totally out of your control may be in operation.  If, however, you experience many rejections your fears may have a basis in reality.

Identify any negative patterns and learn from them.  Remember, everyone makes mistakes:  The trick is to evaluate them, learn from them from them and move on.   Don’t let the barn door defeat you.  If it’s a single occurrence, recognize it as such.   If you have a series of job search rejections and disappointments it may be time to evaluate your fears, approach them as challenge and find a way to overcome them.

One Day at a Time.  All you have is today.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unknown.  Ruminating over past rejections or obsessing over the future will only deepen your fears and make them more difficult to overcome.  Learn from the past and create goals for the future, but focus on what you can do today.

Take Opinions for what they are.  Some say that 50% of people you meet will disapprove of you know matter what.  With this in mind, it is unproductive to base your self-esteem on others’ opinions.  You are the expert on you.  The opinions of others are just that…opinions.  Consider the advice of others as clues to discovering your own special attributes.   Remember that other’s opinions are just that…they can help or hinder your job search depending on their accuracy and their relevance to your goals.  In the end, only you can identify your fears, reframe them, and see them as learning experiences that can fortify your self-esteem and prepare you for future challenges.  Shut the door on negatives and open yourself to new experiences.  You’re in for the ride of your life; don’t let your fears stop you when you “hit the door”.   Redefine your fears as challenges and enjoy the ride.

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Copyright 2010 – Dumont Gerken Owen, Ph.D.  All Rights Reserved.

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