By the time they get to me, a lot of my clients have experienced a number of rejections. Their confidence has taking a battering and they’re feeling inadequate and, often, hopeless.

As a former actress, I know all about rejection. You turn up to an audition, wait with a group of people who look scarily similar to you, have a matter of seconds to prove to a panel that you fit the brief better than all those other girls (a panel who, quite often, don’t even look up from their desk), sometimes get stopped a few seconds in to your audition piece, assume then that you should leave the room, and get the train home, making up your own reasons for why you didn’t get a recall; why you weren’t “good enough”. The idea you might receive any constructive feedback is, in this industry, a laughable one.

I, like a most actors, found this tough. I remember talking to an agent once who reckoned his clients had a hit rate of about one in twelve auditions. So, for every twelve auditions they went to, they dealt with rejection eleven times.

Over the years, I developed my own strategies for coping with these feelings. It wasn’t just disappointment – it went far beyond that. I had to keep putting myself out there, trying to sell myself,  whilst feeling – and sometimes even being told –  that I wasn’t good enough/young enough/thin enough/experienced enough etc. (“wear some f***ing lipstick next time, dahling, that might help”).

My experiences have been invaluable when it comes to helping my clients prepare for interviews. Here’s what I learnt:

  • You’re allowed to throw your toys.

It’s okay to be upset. You’re allowed to feel crappy about this. Do what you need to do – have a good cry, pull the duvet over your head, have a drunken rant to your friends.

Set a time limit for allowing yourself to wallow for a bit…but be strict with it. I used to allow myself, if I’d missed out on a big job,  one evening of tears and takeaway – the next morning, I forced myself to move on to step two:

  • Feelings are not FACTS

Now that you’ve got some distance from the rejection, it’s time to get objective. Just because you feel like a failure, that doesn’t mean you are a failure.  FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS. We are all guaranteed to face rejection at some point in our career: once you accept that, you take the power out of it. I KNEW I was good at my job, and I had to be strict with myself when it came to allowing other people to shake my faith in my ability. You must not depend on other people for approval. Countering a negative feeling (“I’m not as good as all those other people”) with a positive one (“I’m good at what I do, I just missed out this time”) is a habit you can train yourself in to.  Which brings me on to step three…

  • It’s not all about you

Stop allowing your mind monkeys to blame you. I’ve been on a lot of interview panels and have frequently been part of discussions about how “any one of these candidates could do this job”. A successful candidate is often chosen because of one tiny thing that has resonated with the interviewer…so that means all the other, perfectly good candidates are rejected! By shifting the focus on to the interview panel – why they have lent towards the successful candidate, rather than why they’ve lent away from you – you’ll find it easier to keep things in perspective. There’s only one job up for grabs here, and it’s a competitive game. Don’t assume you’re a failure because you didn’t win this time.

  • Get to work

Now you’ve had time to reflect on how things went, be honest with yourself. Write a “review” of how the interview went, but imagine you’re writing it about a friend, not yourself. You’ll find it easier to be objective and not nasty! Ask for feedback (remembering you might not get any/it may be vague) and remain professional – you might have missed out this time, but they may have more jobs up for grabs in the future. Then decide what areas about your performance you’d like to improve. Did you find a particular style of question difficult to answer? Were your answers as engaging and full as they could’ve been? Did your nerves make you come across as underconfident?  Do some work on yourself to make sure you’re feeling good and ready for your next opportunity when it comes your way…making sure it’s the right one…see step 5

  • Be selective

My first agent used to put me up for every job going, whether I was suited to it or not. I swear, if I had to go to one more bloody tap audition and shuffle my feet next to girls who thought they were Ginger Rogers… I. Don’t. Tap. Do you? Or would you feel really crappy being judged on your tap dancing, when you know there’s no way you’re right for the role and that you’re surrounded by people who are much more qualified than you and, surprise surprise, you get rejected?

It’s tempting to cast your net wide in the search for a job – especially if you’re getting desperate – but try to avoid applying for jobs you know you won’t get. It’ll just knock your confidence. Don’t head for the tap room – get yourself to the right room for you, where they’re looking for someone with your skills and where you know you’ve got a hope in hell of showing what you can do.

Dealing with rejection is hard, but there are habits you can get in to that will help you to keep it in perspective. Training yourself to take responsibility for your own emotions will enable you to trust your professional competencies and see your value; no one else is going to do this for you.

You win some, you lose some. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.

Get in touch to see how I can help you with your next interview.