THE BLOG
07/24/2013 10:08 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2013

Job Search Rejection

Maybe it's not you.

Were you rejected? Take a closer look at what happened.

Did you have a face to face conversation with someone? Was it someone who needs what you have to offer? Someone who has the power to get you the job?

Did you talk about why you'd be the perfect fit? Not just what you have done, but what the hiring person needs. Did you leave that discussion feeling like both of you were seeing that your talent spoke to exactly what was needed? Did all that happen and then someone told you "No?"

Or did you send a resume and cover letter, have an interview with a gatekeeper, and then check "networking" off your to-do list by sending a Linked In invite to a stranger?

Was it you that was rejected? Or was it your resume?

Glossing over any kind of rejection never helps. Any rejection is bad. And positive thinking can get old.

But a factual answer to the question, "Did someone reject me OR did someone reject my resume?" can be useful to the job seeker going forward.

The brutality of constant rejection can easily drive the applicant into a tailspin of self doubt. A self doubt that is kind of a first cousin to the idea of "blaming the victim." The job seeker endlessly combing over what she could have done to make a better resume or check more boxes on the networking to-do list. Or try some expert's tip on getting past gate keepers. Or somehow work harder.

But as all of us know, the best resume doesn't get the job. In these troubling times, "getting a job" and "doing a job" have become two very different activities. Getting a job is like a trip down Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole. Only the rabbit hole is stuffed with all the old resumes that no one really reads.

Standardized, mass production hiring is tremendously efficient, easy to measure and cheap. It's the kudzu of the corporate cubicle farms.

In contrast, the talent drain of the laid off lawyer, director of marketing, and bank vice president standing in the job search line and all being told "no" is a very difficult picture to paint on the canvas of a balance sheet.

Hard to measure what it costs when the perfect fit for a job isn't hired because she did not include the right key words on a resume never seen by human eyes.

So handling and learning from rejection in today's irrational system of job search is no longer about expert advice -- its about posing the questions that will lead each individual to come up with their own plan to handle and learn from rejection.

In Finding Work When there Are No Jobs, there are dozens and dozens of questions clustered around each of THE FIVE, our five guiding principles for finding work. THE FIVE also prompt questions for each job seeker to use as they take a breath and pause from the barrage of rejections and come up with their own answer to the question, "What's Next?"

Remember -- there are NO right or wrong answers here.

These are questions you ask yourself. Some will be useful and prompt your own personal way forward. Some will make you scratch your head and go "Huh?"

Use the ones that work for you!

Using THE FIVE To Move Forward From Rejection

I. Tell Your Story
Did my resume and cover letter tell my story? Or was it just data?
Have I shared ways that I've made a difference?
Did I express how others see me?
Where do I want honesty to figure in my story?
Was my story balanced?

II. Adding Music
Did I speak to being a "fit" for the job?
Was there a harmony between employer needs and my talents?

III. Communitizing
Do I share some sort of community with my target place to work?
Am I active in building this community?
Am I limiting myself to simply "knowing someone?"
How current and strong is my community connection?

IV. Solving a Mystery
Have I shown the needs I can fill for this employer?
Does my story balance what I have done with what I can do?

V. Practicing Stewardship
Have I shown I understand why the job is important?
Can I speak to something larger than myself?

Finally, don't let the questions draw you into second guessing yourself.

The goal is to break the constant chain of rejection.

Not with expert opinions or better resumes or key words or beating yourself up with self-improvement cliches.. The goal is to break the constant chain of rejection by using the questions as tools.

Tools that will help you build your own path to finding work.