By: Ijeoma Nkwonta

I had many options in my head on how to frame up the title of this article but I left it this way because the phrase “Handling Rejection” reminded me of the noble profession which I serve in - HR (Human Resources).

When I started my HR career, a senior colleague and big brother - Adedeji Ogunnubi gave me four (4) key career advice, one of which was on handling rejections.

He works in the Oil and Gas sector which is many talents’ dream industry. Due to the nature of the work and the industry he works in, he said he had to learn how to support people in accepting or handling rejection. That is, helping them manage their emotions and expectations when they are not chosen as the best candidate for a job opportunity, or not granted requests they strongly desired – without making them feel less worthy or less of a human than they are.

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How can a Professional effectively manage been rejected? I will answer this question with my personal experience.

I recently applied for Union Bank’s #UnionRiseChallenge and my application was not recognised as one of the Top 10 Winners for the Week 4 of the challenge. When I heard the news, I was heartbroken for thirty (30) minutes. I was really hurt; thoughts like "You are not enough" started building up (which is very normal when you face a rejection on something you really wanted).

Well, here's what I did to manage myself and the situation. Hopefully, you can glean something from my story to support yourself, in times of rejection.

I asked myself a pertinent question “Why was I likely rejected?” I called a friend who is a Grant Writing Specialist asking for his professional opinion on why my application was likely not selected, even as I believed I had a fantastic, charitable and resilient story which in turn garnered amazing views and reviews on Instagram.

He gave me two (2) valuable feedback that I hope to implement next time:

  • Putting metrics to my impact. He stated that funders love numbers, the more the number of people your project will benefit, the greater your chances of securing sponsorship.
  • Sometimes, not securing sponsorship does not mean your story is not good enough; It could be that it's not in line with the what the funder wants to sponsor. He advised I always study past winners of any application/competition I want to enter for insights/trends on what the funders are interested in. This will help in aligning my application/my project with the funders' interest.

I added one more recommendation to myself: “Ensure to maximize such valuable feedback, for future applications”.

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I appreciated my friend and moved on with my daily life like nothing major happened.
Sometimes when we are rejected, we wallow in the pain and self-pity, instead of accessing some pertinent retrospective questions and taking some needed actions such as:

  •  Why was I rejected?
  • What can I do to ensure in future I am not rejected or I am more prepared for that opportunity? (Putting ones career in perspective)
  • Can I just move on and focus my energy on another project?

I appreciate everyone who voted for me, and dropped kind words of support. As at Friday 3rd July, 2020, on #UnionRiseChallenge hashtag on instagram, my entry had the most “likes” (716) and everyone who supported me made it possible, and for that I am grateful.

In any of life’s "competitions", even if you don’t win or aren’t selected for opportunities you really wanted, you MUST find ways to bounce back speedily and keep moving. That way, you open yourself up to boundless opportunities which the world has to offer you.

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About the Author

About the Author Ijeoma is a Certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), with multicultural career trajectory covering countries such as Nigeria, US, UK, and India. 

You can reach her on LinkedIn here.

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