Rejection. Evaluation. Planning. Attack. by Alumni Anne-Lise Johnsen

Many may think that because I got my dream job at an early age I have never experienced rejection.

Well it’s quite the opposite really.

As Marketing Society’s Young Marketing Leader of 2016 I want to embrace their mantra of being brave. So in this personal post, I will share two rejections that had a large impact on me.

It was Summer 2009. I was completing my masters dissertation and I knew that I wanted to work in sports. After many applications to the sports industry and equal amount of no’s , combined with being repeatedly told I would never make it in the industry, I just wanted to get a foot in someone’s door. Therefore I applied for every graduate job out there. Even a well-known FMCG which is for those that know me well, quite far off my personal vision.

The FMCG brand liked my CV and invited me to an assessment day. I was terrified throughout and didn’t feel or act like myself. Not only did I feel incompetent; but while being surrounded by loud graduates I hid in my shell. When younger, I never responded well to loud people as I thought they were better than me. As they spoke more, I thought they were more competent and intelligent than me. And rather than speaking up, I hid. And surprise surprise, I didn’t get the job. And so it continued for many more after that.

My next big rejection was when I applied for the Marketing Academy in 2013. I didn’t even make it past the crucial first round. I was gutted. My confidence was shook. And some of my peers almost seemed happy with my failure which was the first time I experienced work jealousy. I didn’t know what to do or which next step to take. Who to confide in. I was focusing on everything I wasn’t doing rather than how my application and approach was.

So how did I get to where I am today? Well, over the years I have developed my own way of fighting back. A process that is natural to me;

Take a break

After a rejection, I always take a few days to feel sorry for myself – but even more importantly during this time I evaluate the situation. When I was rejected from the Marketing Academy, I sat down and reviewed my application from start to finish. In hindsight, they made the right decision. I wasn’t ready to go on the programme – but more importantly my application wasn’t ME. It’s was led by others’ thoughts, not mine.

Plan Plan Plan

I love lists. They organise my life and brain; and I feel stressed without them. So I make them even more after a ‘No’ comes into my inbox.

After all my graduate job rejections; I made a list of jobs I actually wanted and was passionate about. Rather than focusing on what the norm was. I started applying for them despite them not fitting the graduate job mold – and I got one, it was a temp role on lousy pay. But my foot was in the door and there it remained.

My version of networking

I am not very good at networking. I am rubbish at talking about myself – so when people tell me to network it feels like an out of body experience. So instead I focus on my inner circle and ask for their help to reach out to others; and that for me has been much more efficient.

Look at your strengths

Too many people focus on their weaknesses in times of rejection; therefore I always write a list about my strengths. To remind myself – and it is truly the first step of re-building my confidence. I also stopped looking at rejection as a failure – it’s a learning experience.

Make someone your mentor

This one I only learnt a few years ago. After the rejection from the Marketing Academy I didn’t have anyone to speak to – I truly believe that if you do you can fight back quicker. Everyone should have a mentor; just don’t steal mine! Thank you Jonathan!

Taking all of this into account… In May 2015 I was accepted into the Marketing Academy on my second attempt. The application was 100% me. And I actually cried when I got accepted.

So go to your manager or director and ask for a nomination to the Marketing Academy today. If they say no, try again. It changed my life – and it could change yours. If you let it. Your future is in your hands.

For information on Anne-Lise please visit her website at

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