One of the most important skills you can learn while hunting for a new job has nothing to do with how the interview goes or how well your resume is formatted. The single most important skill to work towards is how you deal with rejection. Anyone who has been looking for a job for any length of time will tell you that rejection is a big part of the game. You can choose to let it discourage you, or you can choose to take it for what it really is: an incredible learning opportunity.

Rejection is Going to Happen

The first thing that you need to learn about rejection is that it is rarely, if ever, personal. When we’re rejected, we have a tendency to take it as something of a direct assault on who we are, either as people or as employees. This isn’t the case. Sometimes the job just wasn’t the right fit for the type of employee you are. Other times, you lacked certain core experiences that the position required.

In both cases, it has nothing to do with who you are as a person and, as a result, isn’t something you should dwell on. In fact, the reason why you were rejected probably didn’t even have anything to do with you as an employee and likely had a lot to do with external factors you aren’t even aware of. Get comfortable with that and you’ll be able to use it to improve your chances in the future.

What Rejection is Really Telling You

Consider the example of a job that just wasn’t a good fit for you as an employee. Maybe your personality didn’t mesh with the existing corporate culture. Maybe you’re more comfortable working alone and the position required a huge amount of collaboration.

Perhaps the lesson is that you need to learn how to narrow your focus and identify certain positions that you ARE an appropriate fit for. Maybe you’re being told that collaboration is something you should focus on getting better at in the future.

Now, think about the example of a position you didn’t get because you lacked experience. This is an obvious one: the interviewer has just given you objectionable advice that you can use to open up a whole new world of job opportunities. If you’re lucky enough to be told exactly why you weren’t selected for a position and it’s something that you can improve in yourself (be it by taking a class or getting more hands-on experience), you now have a very real goal set for yourself in order to improve as an applicant. We should all be so lucky to get that type of advice. The fact that it came in the form of getting turned down for a job is beside the point.

Rejection can be tough, but it should never be debilitating. By recognizing rejection as a learning opportunity, you remove much of the negative aspects of its power. What you’re left with is a road map that you can use to make yourself more attractive to potential employers, giving yourself a much better chance at landing that position you’ve always wanted in the future.