The Double-Whammy of Rejection and Isolation

May 10, 2010 at 12:01 am 15 comments

A reader of Recruiter Musings recently added the following comment: “Probably the three hardest elements of a job search are organizing your time, battling feelings of isolation and keeping up your enthusiasm as your efforts are constantly rejected or ignored.” I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment! I’ve already addressed the issue of organizing your time in great detail in a prior blog posting. [Read “Time Management: Recipe for a Well-Balanced Job Search” for more details on that topic.] Battling feelings of isolation and keeping up your enthusiasm in the face of rejection are topics that are very much connected to each other … and I thought they deserved a more thorough treatment here.

Being rejected or ignored is a regular part of the job-seeking routine. It’s the nature of the beast. Sales people may be used to facing rejection on a daily basis … but most others are not. Emotionally, that can take a huge toll on a person’s attitude, which is a big problem when maintaining a positive attitude is so critical to a job-seeker’s chances of success. [Read “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”] Professional sales people do not fear rejection, nor do they take it personally. They simply plow forward, knowing that the more times they hear “no,” the closer they are to a “yes.” However, I realize that job-seekers are not all professional sales people, and rejection is much harder for some to handle than others.

In addition, job-seeking can often be a very lonely experience. It’s often said that looking for a job is itself a full-time job. That job is much like being self-employed and/or working from home, which is a situation that invites feelings of isolation. Job-seekers spend a great deal of time alone – in front of their computers, researching companies, searching for job leads, trying to figure out who to contact for networking, etc. That isolation combined with the repeated pattern of rejection can be a real “Double-Whammy” … and a very tough combination for many job-seekers to overcome.

While there is no magic pill that will turn a negative attitude into a positive one, or permanently cure loneliness … there are many things a person can do to help break out of the isolation and negative patterns of job-seeking routines. Most of these ideas have the same, simple and obvious purpose – they are designed to get you up and out of the house, and interacting with other live people. Putting meaningful, job-search related appointments on your calendar, getting dressed up and out of the house, and meeting with other people does wonders for the psyche!

Following are just a few concrete suggestions. Parts of these were copied from my own prior blog articles here on Recruiter Musings, so regular readers may recognize these ideas. Still, when put into a different context, I feel they are ideas that are worth repeating and expanding upon here:

  • Reach Out to People and Set Up Meetings:
    The internet is a wonderful tool for job-seekers. It can also be a huge distraction and waster of time. Make sure you are not spending your days in front of a screen without having actual meaningful conversations with people that are part of your job-search plan. Answering online job postings is probably the least effective way to find a job. Limit the amount of time you spend doing that to under 10%. Sending emails to targeted people is often a good first step in the right direction … but in the end, direct live communication with actual people is the ONLY way business gets done, decisions get made, and people get hired. Overcome your fear, stop worrying about rejection, step outside of your comfort zone and PICK UP THE PHONE! Then, whenever possible, set up face-to-face meetings with people who are either target contacts, or people who might lead you to those targets. Meet with them informally at first – for coffee, breakfast, lunch, etc. The more meetings you have, the more likely it is that you’ll advance yourself up the networking ladder and uncover new opportunities that you would not have heard about otherwise. [For strategies on how to reach out to potential new contacts and set up meetings with them, read “Targeted Networking: How to Effectively Reach Out.”]
  • Join New Networking Groups
    There are some really great local Networking Groups (sometimes called “Job Clubs”) in almost every community. They’re easy to find with a simple Google search. Many job-seekers attend regular meetings of those groups, and derive a lot of help, guidance, and advice … and also meet many other job-seekers who can often be very helpful and supportive. If you’ve already been doing this for a while, you many find that attending those same meetings month after month can get repetitive – and you keep seeing the same people over and over. If so, try seeking out a new local group or two and drop in on their meetings. You just may find a fresh perspective, hear a new idea, or meet new people that you can add to your network. Break out of your rut! [As a starting point, check out his state-by-state list of job-seeker support groups: “Directory of Networking and Job Search Support Groups by State.”]
  • Take Classes and Acquire New Skills
    Being out of work provides you, for better or worse, with an abundance of extra time on your hands. Consider expanding your knowledge and skills during your time off by taking a class or two. Public libraries and local community centers have many such classes that are often totally free, or very inexpensive. Government subsidies are also available to help pay for many other programs and courses – often of a technical nature – designed to “re-train” people by expanding their skill sets and make them more marketable. Besides acquiring new skills, taking classes gives you a sense of purpose … and also affords you opportunities to meet more new people!
  • Do Volunteer Work
    Many job-seekers turn to volunteer work as a way of staying busy and feeling useful while unemployed. Besides the obvious personal benefits that come from the act of giving of yourself, sharing your time, helping others and upping your “karma” score, volunteering can often get your “foot in the door” with a company that might potentially hire you in the future. Showing people what you can do, how well you can do it, and demonstrating your exceptional work ethic – even if it’s not in a paid position – can bring you to the attention of professionals who notice such things, and reward them when opportunities open up. And again, it surrounds you with new people that you can interact and network with. You simply never know who you’ll meet – and who those people may know – until you put yourself out there!

Hopefully, you’ll see a theme emerging here. It’s all about people contact – both on the phone, and (more importantly) in person. The more people you meet and network with, the less likely it is that you’ll feel isolated and alone, and the more your attitude will improve. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: Networking is the best way to spend your time as a job-seeker. [Read “How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching” for more details on the mechanics of networking your way to a job.] The more meetings you set up, and the more live conversations you have, the closer you’ll be to hearing that illusive “yes,” which is your ultimate goal!

Entry filed under: Advice for Job Seekers. Tags: , , , .

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nancy Patterson  |  May 10, 2010 at 11:13 am

    This is the most important information job seekers need to understand. Sadly, many of them do not!

    Very well written.


  • 2. Daniel Barber  |  May 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Michael makes a valid point in that it’s tough to maintain a positive attitude in a negative situation. Here is a rather simple tip, a process really, that might be useful.

    When you feel down, ask yourself to describe your mood level. Honestly describe it completely and fully, and continue to ask and answer that question repeatedly until you feel a little better at which point end off. Keep in mind that a mood is just a mood, it is not you. A negative or down mood tends to fix a person in an unwanted position or attitude, and it is from this attitude that we try to get things done.

    One more thing: a mood that becomes fixed and won’t “lift,” is being held in place by unwanted emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, etc. It is these emotions that act as glue to hold the mood in place. By asking the question above, you have to begin to separate yourself from the mood by “pushing” it away from you so that you can describe it. The more distance you can get between you and the mood / emotion(s), will eventually cause it to dissipate to some degree.

    Good luck.

  • 3. Cindy Spitz  |  May 10, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Great article, Michael. As a home-based company owner, I know too well how important it is to get out. One thing I would add to your article is to not spend too much time networking within your own professional organizations. While I’ve occasionally received referrals from colleagues, the most leads come from attending meetings of associations in other industries. I’ve found that pushing the comfort zone reaps rewards. Thanks again for a good article.


  • 4. Susan Biebelhausen  |  May 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more Michael! I am in sales and related fields, and it is more comfortable for me to meet with strangers and network than it is for some folks. Unfortunately, I think oftentimes, people believe if a meeting does not involve a potential job or job lead, it’s not worth their time. That’s not how networking works. It’s all about “who knows you” and the only way to increase that knowledge with others is to make those connections.

    It’s like learning about a great new restaurant and you want everyone to try it because you enjoyed it so much. You pass on that recommendation to everyone you know because you want others to enjoy it as well. When you meet an impressive person in business or otherwise, you will tend to speak about them more than you would others.

    Here’s to increasing our meaningful networks!


  • 5. Beth Tarbell  |  May 10, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    I am in this very predicament, and this article is right on the money! My leads have dried up and I’m now in the process of networking to generate more leads. Your tips for targeting key people will be very helpful to me.

    Thank you!

  • 6. Dennis Sullivan  |  May 10, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Your article is right on the money. I have been unemployed for six weeks now and one of the first things I did was join a networking group. We meet every Thursday morning for 3 1/2 hours sharing leads, helping each other with the job search, etc. It is truly beneficial for the psyche. One other thing I would like to mention is a supportive spouse. It really does make a difference and I’m grateful everyday for mine. Thank you again for the article.

  • 7. Debby Norman  |  May 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I’m already following your recommendations, with the exception of more schooling (did that). The best antidote I’ve found to the unemployment blues is a job club that meets once a week. Everyone is looking for work, so I don’t feel that twinge of embarrassment when I introduce myself and have to answer the question “What do you do?”

  • 8. Melanie  |  May 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Michael —

    I enjoyed reading the article and couldn’t agree more with the recommendations. I chose to take classes at the Community College which not only has enhanced my skills, but gives me a restored sense of pride and confidence. It’s also another way to network with people that are utilizing these new found skills, and it helps to know that others are facing the same challenges as you being that many are there for the same reasons.

    I now also try to attend many of the functions that I’m invited to as a way of gaining more up to date information and knowledge. Networking is certainly something that’s a learned art and I have never been very comfortable putting myself out there; but it is becoming easier and opens the door to more serendipitous opportunities. By the way, just read a great article in Psychology Today on Serendipity, which I would definitely recommend to lift one’s spirits and morale, and has similar recommendations.

    Best regards,

  • 9. Paulajo Iacovetta  |  May 10, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Your comment regarding the persona of a professional sales person is correct. Your comment about handling rejection isn’t quite right though. A sales professional can handle the rejection of loss of a sale or a lead, have the door slammed in their face and the dreaded “hang up”. When it comes to the job-seeking process we are as vulnerable as the next guy. A professional sales person knows what to do to get to the next step of a sale. When it comes to job-seeking, after the application process there is no next step. The phone messages only states the company is not taking phone calls. In other words “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

    But on the flip side to this process, a good professional sales person knows how to get through to the “gate keeper”; they know how plan their work and how to work their plan.

    The bottom line to this response to your comment is: Professional Salespeople still have feelings, we just know how to apply the Skin-Thickener better.

    • 10. Michael Spiro  |  May 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Of course salespeople have feelings – I never meant to imply otherwise. However, my point was that since they face rejection every day as part of the sales process – and are trained to cope with it and persevere in spite of it – I feel they are better equipped to handle the emotional fallout than a non-salesperson. Overcoming objections and getting past gatekeepers are identical scenarios for both salespeople and job-seekers. Also, both salespeople and job-seekers sometimes encounter situations where there simply is no “next step” and they just have to move on to the next prospect. Both have to learn to deal with such rejections as best as they can emotionally.

  • 11. Lou Mazzucchelli  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Nice piece. Rejection and isolation are tough enough. Then add in no income, and mortgage, food, health insurance and college costs for a sole provider and you’ve got the recipe for real fun…

  • 12. Steve Antony Williams  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Good article,except it’s a “triple whammy” in my opinion, the third factor being “lack of money” !

  • 13. Priya  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Hi, i completely agree with what you have said. I am in the midst of the same emotional crisis. i am dissatisfied with my job and have also been denied promotion becuase i became a mother and the company feels that my output would go down because of my personal priorities . I feel so low these days. neither i am able to concentrate on my job nor able to attend to familiy responsibilities. I try to motivate myself but my spirit goes down every other day. Its such a big challenge to keep up the morale in troubling times.

  • 14. Chuck Balcher  |  May 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Michael, This was a very thorough and thought provoking article regarding everything one can hope to encounter leading up to the all important job interview. Thanks

  • 15. Chuck Balcher  |  May 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Michael, You got it. stay involved. Let one path lead to the next. You never know which avenue is the one that gets you the result you hope for.


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Michael Spiro

About the Author:

Michael Spiro has been a 3rd-Party Recruiter and Account Executive for over 20 years. He is currently the Director of Recruiting / NE Ohio Region for Jefferson Wells, a dedicated business unit of ManpowerGroup. Other recent positions include President of Midas Recruiting, a boutique head-hunting firm, Director of Talent at Patina Solutions, and Executive Recruiting positions with two of the largest search firms in North America. Before his career in the staffing industry, Michael was a manager in a large non-profit social-services organization. And in a former life, Michael was active in the entertainment industry, with extensive road-warrior experience as a touring performer (singer-songwriter / guitarist / comedian) and as a recording artist, producer and booking agent.  [More...]

Index (by Topic):

Résumés & Cover Letters:
 The "T" Cover Letter - The
         Only Type Worth Sending

 The Brutal Truth on How
         Résumés Get Eliminated

 Explaining Short Job Stints
         and Employment Gaps

 The Résumé Test &
         Checklist: Does Yours

 Beating the Résumé-
         Elimination Game: Where
         Do Recruiters' Eyes Go?

 The Truth About Lying on

 "Why Did You Leave Your
         Last Job?"

 How to Network: A
         Step-by-Step Guide for
         Job Searching

 Looking for Networking in
         All the Wrong Places

 Targeted Networking: How
         to Effectively Reach Out

 The Art of Giving: the Key to
         Effective Networking

 Face-to-Face Interviews:
         Secrets, Tricks and Tips

 Phone Interviews: Secrets,
         Tricks and Tips

 Skype Interview Tips ...
         Welcome to the Future!

 Nuggets: A Secret
         Interviewing Technique

 Answering the Dreaded
         Salary Question

 20 Surefire Ways to Blow
         an Interview

 "So, Do You Have Any
         Questions?" Nailing the
         Interview Closer

 Cool InfoGraphic: "What
         You Wish You'd Known
         Before Your Job

Age Discrimination:
 Age Discrimination: Secret
         Conversations Revealed

 Age Discrimination:
         Exposing Inconvenient

 Are You "Overqualified?"
         Handling the Age Issue

 Baby Boomers to the
         Rescue! An Idea Whose
         Time Has Come ...

 Overcoming Job-Search
         Obstacles and
         Redefining Your Career
         After 50

 Advice for Recent Grads
         and Career-Changers

Switching Jobs:
 The Proper Way to
         Quit a Job

 Counteroffers: Just Say No!

General Job-Seeking Info:
 The Real Truth About
         Working with Recruiters

 Contract/Consulting Jobs
         Explained ... Available in
         3 Different Flavors

►  What Recruiters Say
         vs. What Job-Seekers

►  The Dirty Truth About
         Misleading Unemployment

►  Let the Jobs Find You:
         Making Yourself More

 "Help ... I Need a Job!" A
         9-Step Guide for Newly
         Minted Job-Seekers

 Avoiding the "Black Hole
         of HR"

 Is Your Elevator Pitch
         Taking You UP
         or DOWN?

 Time Management: Recipe          for a Well-Balanced Job          Search
 Getting Un-Stuck from your

 The Double-Whammy of
         Rejection and Isolation

 "Unemployed Need Not
         Apply" - Working Around
         This Scary Message

 Using Social Media to
         Enhance Job-Searching

 Warning: That Rant You
         Posted Just Went Viral!

 The Golden Rule for
         Business: Never Burn

 The Power of a Positive

 Why Job Hunting is a
         Consultative Sales

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things
         for Job Seekers

 Top 10 Most Annoying
         Things for Job Seekers

 New Year's Resolutions for
         Unemployed Job-

Job-Seeking Humor:
 Comic Relief: Volume 1
 Comic Relief: Volume 2
 Comic Relief: Volume 3
 Comic Relief: Volume 4
 Comic Relief: Volume 5
 Comic Relief: Volume 6
 "In Transition" and Other
         Awkward Euphemisms

 Candidates Gone Wild:
         Recruiter Horror Stories

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