You didn’t get picked. You got a pink slip. Rejection hurts & kills your confidence. How do you get your mojo back?

Hey!  I’m Rachel, Creator of Geopivot.  This is one of our featured Advice Bytes. I got over some serious suck-fests.  You can too.

I’ve cried myself to sleep many times over lost GIS job prospects.  I worked so damn hard on making my resume amazing and crafting a perfect cover letter.  I daydreamed about my first day at my new desk.

I checked my phone every two seconds for weeks.  I paced anxiously around the house.  But they never called.  I understand how soul-crushing it is when you find your dream job, but don’t get picked.

The reality is you can’t mope around forever.  Being in a bad mood makes it even harder to attract other opportunities.  I’m going to share two sucky things that happened to me, how I moved on and how you can too.






Oh my God, I wanted this job bad!  It was my destiny…I just knew it.  Everything in my career was leading up to this perfect position.  I actually made it to the fourth interview, but then I didn’t get it.  I was devastated.  To make it worse, three of my close friends all got picked to work on really similar projects. I just watched from the sidelines and cried.

This wasn’t the only time I didn’t get picked. I applied to more than 50 positions before I got my first job.  I was starting to lose hope and fell into a deep depression.  How could it be that I have an awesome degree and no one will hire me???


I was totally shocked the first time it happened.  One day my boss walked up to me and asked me to slowly back away from my desk and don’t touch anything.  Then the head of IT came and changed my password.  I was like, WTF!!  What is going on?

He said it was standard HR procedure to handle layoffs like this.  [Amazingly, it’s true.  Read about it here].  He said don’t take it personally…it’s meant to prevent people from stealing company secrets, sabotaging projects and making a scene.  I couldn’t believe it!  Why was I being treated like a criminal when I had done nothing wrong?

Seven years later, it happened again.  This time I got escorted out by a security guard.  [Is this kind of humiliation really necessary HR people?]  Both times I got laid off because my departments ran out of funding.  Both times were devastating.  One second you are a trusted team member and then BAMN!  You are banished from the place you spend all of your time.




How did I move on after facing these and other major setbacks?  First I did the obvious things. I wallowed in my misery.  I spent a lot of time crying, being angry and trying to blame other people.

Eventually, I decided it was time to move on to something more productive.  I wasn’t going to let this stupid stuff stop me! But how could I get my confidence back?

The first priority is to rebalance your mind by adding a huge does of positive vibes.  This will help you take back your power.

Try to embrace the phrase, “I Am a Badass.”  (BTW, this is one of my favorite books.  You’ll love it).

To get in the right mood, listen to this song on repeat while you dance around the house.  Try it…it’s fun.

Dancing like a maniac is one of the fastest ways to start smiling.  I didn’t make this up.  Check out this evidence.

Here are a few activities that helped me when I needed to refuel my mojo:


PAST: I thought about what I was proud of in my past.  I found some photos to represent each one (left photo below).  I remembered how my dream client (National Geographic) had called me to do a project together.  That was AWESOME!  I started to smile.  I remembered how hard I worked to earn my degrees and what it felt like to walk across the stage at graduation.  That was AWESOME TOO!  I came up with 12 things that made me happy.

PRESENT: I wrote myself some love letters (there’s an excerpt in the middle below). I know it sounds cheesy, but it really works. Try it. In one letter, I reflected on things I really admire about myself…the traits that make me feel the most like me.  Being a teacher and a mentor is part of my identity and thinking about it makes me happy.

FUTURE: I started thinking about the future and what I wanted to create next.  I went through piles of magazines and tore out photos that made me happy.  I put them all together in a collage (right photo below) and put it in a prominent place in my house.  Every time I looked at it, it motivated me to get moving on new dreams.

How do you know when someone needs a nudge, a hug or a stage to walk out on? It’s an incredible gift – the ability to teach others to step into their power. Do you remember how you felt watching your class squirm when it came time to show off their skills?  The room went silent, the small talk came to a dead halt.  Remember how your heart ached for them to see what you see in them? Remember when the two young woman were afraid to stand up in front of the class and share their work. When you made the space for them, encouraged them, basically forced them to get up there…they were the best out of the whole group.


Alight, now that you are in a better frame of mind, you can start mapping out your next moves.  Do some soul searching and figure out which parts of the situation you can take responsibility for. I realized that I had a lot to learn if I wanted to move up to the next level in my career. Notice that I didn’t think of making a lateral move.  I realized I didn’t have money, but I did have time. I was going to use it to qualify for a higher position.


I focused on four main things.  First, I knew I needed to learn more about the positions I wanted to move into and build their required skills.  Next, I redid my resume & portfolio to be more appealing to the people I wanted to hired me.

Then I figured out how I could contribute something useful to my industry.  And finally, I hustled. By that I mean I hit the pavement and started networking with everyone helpful I could find.  You can apply these same techniques to get what you want.

I already had four degrees and had spent over $100,000 on my education when I went back to school.  I knew it was worth it to invest another $10,000 to get the credentials I needed to succeed.  So I took out a loan and enrolled in 10 classes from some of the top universities offering professional development classes.  Some were online; others I had to drive three hours each way, twice a week, to attend.  Lesson here – do whatever it takes to invest in your future.

Next, I took a hard look at the way I was presenting myself to potential employers.  If I wanted to be perceived in a particular way, I had to change my personal brand.  I redid my website and rewrote my resume.  If you need help with this, try our class How to Make a GIS Portfolio and read this How to Create a Cool GIS Resume.

You already know how to do some cool stuff.  So go do it.  Help other people and your life will get easier, trust me.  I spent a lot of time creating resources to help other people get ahead.  I made a career planning tool and wrote about it in ArcNews.  Then I made Geopivot.

Most newbies severely underestimate the importance of this.  If you want to do cool stuff, you have to hang out with people who can open doors for you.  Learn how to do this in our online class.  I attended tons of GIS events, met some amazing mentors and observed them closely.  They taught me “street skills” I couldn’t learn in school.  I hired a personal coach.  They helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, create goals and stay on track.  If you don’t have one, call me.


Own Your Journey Baby!

So what happened after I applied all of these techniques? I started kicking ass! After my first layoff, I found a much cooler job and got a $20,000 raise. Many years later, I had the courage to leave a job I loved to move into a higher position and got a $30,000 raise. The second time I lost my job, I found a new one and got another $20,000 raise. When my beloved teaching position ended, I started my own school. Now I get to keep teaching and you get to learn all the secrets for success. AWESOME!

I know you can kick ass too.  Go fight for what you want and have fun doing it!  Don’t forget to keep dancing despite sucky setbacks [watch Michael while you do it].  I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines.  Let me know what happens.