Resilience: the Antidote to Rejection

14 November 2018Confidence, Job Search Skills • Susan Rietano Davey



It’s Girl Scout cookie “close-out” season and I’m all in. Outside polling stations around the country last week, boxes of last year’s cookies were selling like hotcakes. And they taste as good as they did back in January! I know this because, yesterday, I polished off the remainder of a nearly full box of Samoas in Kelley’s pantry. Gross, I know, but is the Samoa not cookie perfection? Shortbread, caramel, toasted coconut, dark chocolate. I am weak in its presence.

The scouts are marketing geniuses. Whatever doesn’t’ sell in spring, they pull back out during the dark days between Halloween (which primes our sweet tooths) and the holidays (where sweets are abundant), when the days are darker and our clothes are baggier.

For years, I looked forward to the arrival of adorable clipboard-carrying girls dressed in their green uniforms, badges aplenty, towing their red wagons of ‘samples’ and cheerily asking for my order. I didn’t disappoint; over the years I even noticed an asterisk next to my address on the order form suggesting that my generous orders were well documented.

Not every homeowner was generous or even friendly. My neighborhood girl scout, now 21, reports that she had doors closed in her face, angry admonishments for disturbing the peace, and even raging dogs released in protest of her visits.

“It was all good training,” she says now with the wisdom of a young adult. “Rejection stings, but we deal with it and get stronger from it.” How true.

Unfortunately, not all of today’s scouts are learning this lesson. I haven’t had a clipboard-carrying cookie seller at my door in years. It’s not uncommon for parents to sell their scouts’ lot at the office, or on FaceBook, these days. The result is a tragic lost opportunity for these girls to learn resilience.

As someone who started her career in hi-tech sales and has launched two businesses plus a non-profit, among other endeavors, I’ve been rejected plenty. It stings, but the sting fades and we move on. Rejection doesn’t ever get easy, but it becomes navigable and manageable with experience.

That’s why when I give parenting talks, I advise parents to let their children fail a quiz, get cut from the team or relegated to an understudy role in the play, without sweeping in to fix things for them. Children need to learn to dust themselves off and pick themselves up before they head off into the big, bad world. They must become resilient.

Of course this is not a parenting blog, but the message of resilience is important for you – the woman journeying back to work – to hear, too. You have been raising children, managing a household, running events, etc. and, aside from being dismissed as “annoying” by your kids, you probably haven’t faced real rejection in the 15 years since you were passed over for that promotion you wanted.

So, for you career re-launchers who will undoubtedly face some rejection as you put yourselves “out there”, I offer my Top 5 Tips for Building Resilience on Your Journey Back To Work:

   1  Expect to be rejected – to be told ‘no’ or ‘not now’. Don’t let it be a surprise. If you experience no rejection in the process of re-entering the workforce, you’re probably aiming too low.

   2  Practice resilience in low-stakes scenarios. Interview for a job you don’t really want; deliver your pitch to a familiar audience and invite them to critique it; network with friendly faces first before reaching out to strangers.

   3  Read old performance reviews, thank you notes, and cards. Fill your head with all the good things people say about you and let  their voices balance (or drown) out any negative voices you hear.

   4  Keep your résumé updated always, and look at it frequently. You have done excellent work; you have marketable skills and expertise; there’s a business out there that is DYING to hire someone like you. Tell yourself this and believe it.

   5  Know that landing a job is a numbers game. Every NO you get means you are that much closer to getting a YES.

Last of all, approach building resilience the same way you approach building muscle and stamina for your sport or favorite workout: gradually, systematically, and with the reward of an occasional treat for good effort. May I suggest some Girl Scout cookies?

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