[Adapted from an original post answering this question on Quora]
I’ve been on the receiving end of many the rejection letter and even more non-responses than I can count so I know exactly what you are referring to. It’s not an easy task as looking for a job is an emotional roller coaster: one day you are up because you think you have found the perfect job for you and the next day you are down because you were not offered a different role.
So, here is how I deal with it:
Understand You: Review job titles and their responsibilities to see if they match your expectations. Do some in-person interviews with people you know and respect (or just respect but not just know) in those jobs so you can get their insight on the job, what’s required, whether your prepared for such a role and whether it’s right for you at this stage of your career.
Understand Your Marketability: Research and understand the market where you are looking for a job. Make sure your expectations in terms of role and compensation are in-line with reality and not just your wishes.
Be Focused: (but give yourself some options) Having done the critical assessment of the role that you’d like, understand how well prepared you are for that role and if you believe you can convince people you can do it. Set your goal on that role but always keep some options open for other similar roles that help you build some of the additional skills that would be helpful in that perfect role. That way if the market is saying to you – I’m not sure you are ready, then you have other options open that you are ready for.
This is tricky and a lot of work but can ensure that after a very focused effort, you don’t end up without any options. BTW, you shouldn’t consider going for a “lower” role a concession but rather an opportunity to convince that employer that actually this role is too limiting and they should look for a bigger role for you. At very least you have learned a lot more about that company. (Side note: I have had situations previously where I’m been applying for a specific role but asked for and got offered a more senior position).
Don’t burn out: A job search is a full-time job unless your lucky enough to be directly recruited for the perfect role (which happens but don’t rely on it) – so give yourself a break from the day-to-day job search activity. I’d recommend a side project completely separate from the job you want or are in – like a gardening project or a repair task or reading Lord of the Rings. Something that mentally takes you away from your normal works tasks. If you are in your head all day (programming, writing, …), do something to get out of your head (chopping wood, fix your bicycle, …) and vice-versa.
Give yourself an out: There is a reason the recruiter did not call you back – you can probably guess it despite how much you don’t want to – acknowledge it and move on. That role was not right for you anyways and not in a plenty of fish in the sea way (although that’s true too) but that role didn’t match your personality, you would not have clicked with the manager, … there is a reason why that role is not right for you and it’s probably valid. So, cut yourself some slack, acknowledge that you are not perfect and keep looking.
And don’t take it personally – recruiters are not paid to call you back so don’t expect it. If you didn’t get a job: it’s not you, it’s them – it’s their loss (I’m back again to the dating analogy;-).
Go mingle: A job search is a lonely, exhausting task that many people feel they need to shut themselves off from the world until it’s complete. Please don’t do that – it’s important that you get some perspective from your friends, colleagues and family. So go mingle, you’ll find that everyone has a story to share about their job search and you just might meet the person to help or offer you your next job.
Stay organized: Last but not least, don’t step on your own toes. A lot of being successful in the job search is simply knowing what you have done, what not to do, what you are doing now, and what’s next. So, find a tool that helps you stay organize and in control of the process (as otherwise it can be over-whelming).
As I hope you can see, I have been through the job search process more than once and have now built a service to help you stay organized: Jobspeaker – please try it out and let us know if it helps you.