We’ve all been there right? Rejection sucks. But it’s all part and parcel of being a freelancer so as harsh as this sounds, you’re just going to have to deal with it.
Since I went freelance, I’ve pitched for a number of contracts where it didn’t work out and the client decided to go with someone else. Did I take it personally? No – and this comes from someone who normally wears their heart on their sleeve. Outside work, I take a lot to heart, but business-wise, I’m pretty good at separating personal feelings from potential work. Once I get a contract, I’m all-in, I’m totally invested. I want to do the best for my client and ensure that they are happy and satisfied with the work I produce – that is massively important to me. But potential work; work that I haven’t actually got yet; I generally roll with the punches.
Not taking things personally aside, my Top Tip would be DO NOT PROJECT. When you put in a proposal for work, never think of it as in the bag and start projecting what that would mean – in relations to your business, financially, whatever, just don’t do it. Instead when you submit a proposal think ‘it’ll be nice if that comes off’ and then put it to the back of your mind until you hear back. It’ll save a lot of over-thinking and disappointment down the line.
Here are my other tips for dealing with work rejection. First up, deal with your feelings:
- Accept it. Accept that in this case, whilst you may feel you are the best person for the job, someone else doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not good at your job, it just means you weren’t right for this job and that is totally fine.
- However you feel about it, you’re allowed to feel. But try to keep those feelings in perspective. Don’t start spiralling and overthinking things. Remember that you are good at what you do and an unsuccessful proposal doesn’t change that.
- Focus on the wins. When I was only a few months into freelancing I pitched for a big contract that in my mind, I had no real hope of getting. Instead I got to interview stage, and whilst I ultimately didn’t get the job, I felt really good about the rejection. Why? First of all, I got to interview stage when I didn’t even expect a response. Secondly, following feedback I learnt that I’d been up against two long-established companies who could bring extra resources to the table. And finally, I made a new connection which has since led to another contract.
Once you’ve processed how you feel, it’s time to move on to the all-important formalities.
- Say thank you. It doesn’t matter how far you got in the process. Whether you simply submitted a proposal and didn’t make it through to the next round or whether you got as far as interview and presentation, thank the client for the opportunity.
- Ask for feedback. You won’t always get it but if you do, accept it for what it is. Personally, I’ve found the feedback experience very positive. It can give you insights into things you may need to improve, it may have been about fit or perhaps you lost out to someone with more experience than you. All feedback is useful.
- Ask to stay in touch and ask them to bear you in mind should they need any future work. Then connect on LinkedIn.
And that’s it. You will get rejected at some point I’m afraid, but there are always more contracts in the sea.
How do you deal with work rejection? Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you.
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