Updated: Sep 30, 2022
How Top Sr. Product Leaders turn rejections into wins - a recap from our Product Accelerator workshop
The imposter syndrome we experience from rejections halts and destroys our careers, sometimes slowly and sometimes ruthlessly. Self-doubt also feeds on more self-doubt, ultimately crippling us with fear of even trying. Rejections can feel very personal because we feel like we are being judged as a person.
Some good old conventional wisdom suggests that when faced with rejections, we should try to do the following:
Give time to process feeling
Treat rejection like a learning experience or re-direction
Get closure and ask why
The unfortunate truth for most of us is that they rarely help us feel better.
Some thoughts that come up in our minds when facing rejections:
"I am not good at this. Maybe I don't know what I'm doing. I just suck at this and don't deserve it."
Tiffany Kwan, a Senior Product Manager at Rainfocus and one of our amazing mentors at PMDojo Product Accelerator, felt like this at numerous points in her career. Even though she has been extremely successful having co-founded a company, none of that mattered when she experienced rejections finding her next product role. This is especially relevant for those looking to transition into a product role. A heart-warming session that connected everyone.
Tiffany shares the following tips to turn rejections into wins based on her own research, talking to many people and reframing them in her current situation. Read on as we share the key themes from our Product Accelerator workshop below:
Tip#1 Desensitize rejection
Tiffany suggests lowering the stakes to help desensitize rejections. She draws inspiration from the proverb “You have to knock on 100 doors and be fully aware that 99 will say no”. It helps to have backups or options. How this plays out is when candidates might be extremely selective in applying and perhaps only have one interview lined up every month. This is where that single interview can feel very high stake and it then becomes the only thing people have. It hurts a lot when you hear a "No" from your only option. Her suggestion is to spread your risk and apply for more roles that come your way and what she found useful for her was to start getting used to hearing a "No" more often. As counter-intuitive as this might sound, this really helped her.
Tip#2 Shift your perspective
Tiffany shared that she had to change her perspective of what her goal might be. A lot of times, candidates can feel like they are pouring everything they have in the hope that companies might accept them. It is important to realize that you have a lot of value that you bring to the role or the company and this is the big reason why they called you for an interview. This is where Tiffany shared that what helped her was to reflect on her values and previous experiences to then advocate for what she was bringing to the table. You should aim for standards and broaden your goals. It is about recognizing your abilities and what you want, as well as remaining open to other opportunities.
Tip#3 Keep fantasies to a minimum
Imagining "what if" situations makes rejection even more difficult. While it is good to dream, Tiffany highlighted that counting your chickens before they hatch was a disappointing experience for her. Dreaming is human and we all do it. Tiffany's tip is to set aside some time to think about these and to stop your mind from wandering endlessly. You need to reduce your stake before this fantasy consumes you.
Tip#4 Do some fear setting
Tiffany suggests that you should consider the worst-case scenario and how you would bounce back from it. In the end, you will be surprised to discover that there are far worse things than hearing a no.
We would like to hear how you bounced back from rejections. Share them below.
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P.S. 🚨 Want to gain industry experience to accelerate your career in a product role? We're closing applications for our next cohort soon. Apply as a Product Manager, UX Designer, UX Researcher or Software Developer to our upcoming cohort - https://www.pmdojo.me/apply