Being Vulnerable Is Part of the Job Search

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on May 18, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"What, they rejected me?? How Dare they!"

If the above sentence is representative of your usual reaction whenever you receive a rejection letter from a prospective employer, we applaud your self-esteem. But most people aren't blessed with such a sense of self-importance. For most lawyers (indeed, people), looking for a job and waiting for the inevitable rejection can be a harrowing experience. But being vulnerable is all part of the process. Fortunately, just knowing that you're not alone can help a bit too.

Rejection: It's All Part of the Dance

It's like high school all over again. You remember all too well the pain of being rejected in that oh-so-friendly-manner by that girl whom you asked to the prom. Who knew it would have such a devastating effect on your psyche years later?

If you've ever wanted something very badly, it can be petrifyingly scary to take actual steps in pursuing it. In the job market, this involves polishing up resumes, customizing cover letters and hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Rejection is one of the most demoralizing experiences anyone can suffer through -- and it causes many attorneys to stay in positions they hate .

Vulnerability Is Your Friend, Weirdly Enough

Feelings of vulnerability are perfectly human -- but they can indicate that you need some practice falling off of the bike. Not everyone is going to like what they see when they scan your resume and you must be prepared for this fact. But if this keeps you from pursuing any outside opportunities at all, you're only hurting yourself. And then you fall into a shell from which it will be difficult to escape.

And something strange happens when finally one firm or recruiter actually responds positively to your materials: you start to build up confidence in your abilities to handle matters, even those for which you have little to no experience. After a few interviews, even the interviewers will get caught up in your enthusiasm. It may all be a show, and may even seem farcical, but it seems to work.

But it's important to remember that a lack of confidence can show through much more loudly than feigned confidence. To build up interviewing skills, it will necessarily mean that you'll have to get rejected more than a handful of times . And every one of those will feel like a punch in the gut.

Have heart: as trite as this sounds, you can't be rejected by all employers. And soon, this slow period will all seem like a distant memory. We wish you speedy success.

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