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12 Ways to Go from Job Search Runner Up to Job Search Winner

There's no doubt that job seekers face more competition than ever these days. Throwing your resume into the pile can feel like throwing a penny into a fountain. With the sheer number of experienced, qualified candidates who are also competing for jobs, just making it to the interview phase can seem like an accomplishment.

Always the bridesmaid?
But what if you are one of those job seekers who consistently make it through several interview rounds, only to receive in the end a rejection letter wishing you well in your job search? Being a perpetual finalist can be incredibly frustrating. Instead of letting it take the wind out of your sails, learn to turn the negatives of rejection into positives.

The following 12 steps will show you how.

1. Don't take it personally.
Being rejected doesn't mean you aren't a terrific candidate, or that someone is judging your ability to do the job at hand. It just means there was a candidate who, for any number of reasons, is perceived as a better fit. Remember that many people never even make it past the resume stage. The fact that you made it to the end shows that you are doing something right.

2. Recognize rejection as an opportunity.
Instead of feeling as if the rejection has set you back, think of it as propelling you forward. Honestly, in most cases when a job doesn't pan out, it's for the best. Consider yourself free to seek out opportunities that are even better.

3. Take a better look at the market you are targeting.
If you are consistently getting rejected from the same type and level of job, you might be slightly under or overqualified. Take a second look to ensure the jobs you are applying for are a good match.

4. Elicit feedback.
Learn from your rejections. It's perfectly acceptable to ask the hiring manager why you weren't chosen for the job.

5. Use feedback.
Make changes based on the feedback you get. For example, if you are consistently beaten out by candidates with a certain certification or degree, work toward enhancing your education.

6. Review the first impression you make.
It takes about 90 seconds for someone to make a judgment about you. Think about how you dress for an interview, your body language, and your general demeanor. Could anything be improved?

7. Consider questions you had difficulty with.
Were there any questions during your interview that you stumbled over? Keep a log of all of these questions, as well as their answers. Knowing the answers to tough questions in advance will ensure you get through these questions at the next interview.

8. Edit your elevator speech.
And if you don't have one, develop one! Remember that when you are at an interview, you are selling yourself. Your elevator speech should sum up your skills and experience in about three to five minutes. Is there anything you can add to make yourself stand out even more?

9. Take a closer look at your interview skills.
If you are making it through the resume review stage and into the interview stage time and time again but aren't landing the job, your interview skills may be to blame. Engage the services of a career counselor, or try doing some mock interviews with someone who is knowledgeable enough to critique your performance.

10. Review your commitment to your industry/position/field.
If you're not enthusiastic about what you're doing, those who interview you are sure to pick up on it. If you're having a tough time feeling the love, you may be interviewing for the wrong jobs. Rethink the jobs you are applying for. Spend some time thinking about what you want to do before you resume your search.

11. Take a break.
If job rejection is becoming overwhelming and you find that it's taking an emotional toll on you, there's nothing wrong with taking a bit of a breather. It's hard to stay in the game if you're not at your best -- especially a game this competitive. Take a small amount of time off so you can come back renewed and refreshed.

12. Accept rejection as part of the job-seeking process.
Don't let it get you down. Pick your head up, learn from your rejections, and forge ahead. Remember that excellence is not a skill. It's an attitude.

Best of luck on your job search!