120. When job hunting hurts: What to do about it and how to avoid setbacks.

career advancement job hunting redundancy & job loss wellbeing Feb 07, 2022
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 120

I have seen many exceptional professionals give up on their job search for months or even years because of what they perceived was a rejection, be it a lackluster reception of their interest in being promoted or a job they applied for and didn't get. I spoke recently to someone who took two years to recover from a rejection from a job she applied for and believed it was a dream job for her. She was indeed a great fit for the role and went all the way to the final interview stage. But at best, her chance was 50%, assuming another excellent candidate was competing for the position.

Taking too long to try again takes a toll on your career. That's what I address in this episode and offer ways to overcome the negative feelings so you can move on with your career. 

There is no reason to feel bad about missing out on a job opportunity.

So many professionals feel embarrassed when they feel that it's taking too long to find a job. They believe there is something wrong with them. They also hate talking about their job search. It takes real vulnerability to share that things are not going your way. I also see professionals who give up on job hunting and blame everything on others, especially recruiters and employers. Yes, I agree that the recruitment process is not easy, imperfect, and structurally biased to benefit the employer. But once the job candidate realizes it is a game to play, the process becomes more straightforward and less stressful with rules you can learn.

Negative self-talk is bad for your brain.

This is a really serious issue. Probably worse than you think, and this is why: negative self-talk is bad for your brain. Studies show exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity each day negatively affects your hippocampus - the part of the brain that makes decisions. Do you know what this means? It means negative self-talk is making you dumber.

What happens when you are not resilient: 

When rejection leads to negative self-talk, it can lead you to

  • take too long to apply for jobs again,
  • feel that you are not qualified enough or educated enough to apply for the roles you want, and 
  • get trapped into thinking you need to go back to study, usually an MBA or other master program. This leads to career stagnation, significant expenses, and not necessarily a better job after graduation.

Be kind to yourself.

People typically don't set out to hurt your feelings or destroy your dreams. But they have other agendas! Their decision was not about you. As much as it hurts not to be chosen for a job you wanted, their decision was about their needs and a great choice of candidates to choose from, including you. 

Maybe you - the employers and recruiters - have had to make tough choices in the past? Have you had to choose between one person and another? It's not easy, would you agree?

When someone chooses the other candidate for the job, it doesn't mean they did not like you or you were not a good fit. Many factors contribute to an important decision like choosing a new employee. So, protect yourself from negative thoughts and move on! Put yourself in someone else's shoes. What advice would you give your best friend? Remember to be your best friend!

Strategies to overcome it:

  • Don't accept first rejection as a reason to stagnate or procrastinate
  • Reflect and try again
  • Fellow career coach J.T. O'Donnell believes that revisiting and refreshing your job routine is a great strategy. He wrote: "Face up to the fact that something is wrong with your strategy. You need new experiences. You need to create new habits. You need to access new resources. You need to surround yourself with new people. New, new, new. Change up what you are doing and who you are doing it with."
  • Recalibrate and have the courage to try again. When looking for work, you must appear excited energized. Listen to my previous episode about giving yourself a good break and separation from your job search. 
  • Give yourself options. Instead of having only one option, take time to develop a range that you can live with. Sometimes clients think I will tell them to focus on one job application or one course for their careers, when in fact, I am all about minimizing risk and playing a long game. Playing a long game means you can take sidesteps, experiment take time out. 
  • I don't waste time perfecting something before starting your job search. Start, review the data from your applications, then optimize your job search and career plans for success. 

Episode timestamps:

  • [00:57] The reason behind this episode.
  • [01:57] Check out the Free recorded webinar.
  • [03:03] Embarrassment around job hunting.
  • [03:56] The serious issue of negative self-talk.
  • [05:50] Is Further education needed in job hunting?
  • [06:14] Be kind to yourself.
  • [07:48] Treat yourself like you'd treat your best friend.
  • [09:15] Training the resiliency muscle.
  • [10:52] Learning from your unsuccessful job hunt.
  • [11:39] J.T O'Donnell's advice
  • [12:49] Take a break and come back swinging.
  • [13:49] Don't waste time perfecting something before you search.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

[email protected]


I cannot recommend it highly enough.

To my friends and colleagues who are currently job hunting, this podcast is for you. Renata Bernarde and her stellar line up of guests very generously share their perspective, advice, behind-the-scene secrets, tips, and anecdotes. "It's called The Job Hunting Podcast (it is what it says on the tin!) Guests include Anita Ziemer, Michelle Redfern, Mohit Bhargava. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Run. Don't Walk." - LinkedIn post shared by Amber Knight.

We listened, and we both got jobs!

"I am writing to let you know that I got a job. I found The Job Hunting Podcast because a friend of mine recommended it, and he also was successful in his job search. Your podcast tips and chats with guests helped me prepare for my job interview. My new position is a gateway to the organization and will allow me to grow as a professional. Thank you for the incredible work you do! We listened to your episodes and assimilated all the learnings." - Listener from New Zealand.

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