How to deal with rejection when job hunting

It can be hard to hear that you’ve not secured a job. Here are five tips to help you bounce back from professional disappointment

By Lizzie Fletcher

Applying for jobs can be a frustrating experience. It can often feel as if everyone around you is landing their dream role while you’re failing even to secure an interview for one you’re not that bothered about.

We are constantly told not to fear rejection, that even some of the world’s most successful business people have dealt with hearing “no”.

    “At the end of the day when there’s only one position available, it can only go to one person,”...  

But while the story of Steve Jobs’s success is undoubtedly inspiring, it doesn’t exactly pick you up when you’ve been rejected from the fourth data entry assistant role of the week.

Here are five tips to help you live with the inevitable rejection that comes when looking for work.

1) Don’t take it personally

“At the end of the day when there’s only one position available, it can only go to one person,” says Peter Foy, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd. “That means every recruiter has to reject other talented applicants. It’s a simple matter of arithmetic.”

You may have all the relevant qualifications and a CV bulging with experience. But if someone else beats you to the role of your dreams, it doesn’t undermine your quality. It probably just means they were better suited to the role, or put in a slightly better interview performance on the day.

2) Ask for feedback

We’re all prone to feeling defensive, and it’s normal not to want to hear the reasons you weren’t right for a job.

But as Just Recruitment senior consultant Jody Collings points out: “You won’t know how you can improve until you know where you are falling short, or what went wrong at interview.”

When you receive a rejection, ask your contact at the company to pass over any feedback from the interview. You’re entitled to request this, and it can be really helpful in preparing for your next application.

For example, if the feedback observes that you didn’t seem knowledgeable about the company, or the role you were interviewing for, you’ll know what to do next time: research the employer and the role so you’re up to speed with what’s on offer.

3) Reflect on the interview

When you’ve been rejected from a job, it can be tempting to put the whole interview experience as far from your mind as possible. should set some time aside to look back on the application process and identify ways in which you could improve.  

But you should set some time aside to look back on the application process and identify ways in which you could improve.

It’s always difficult to be critical of yourself, but honesty is definitely the best policy. Don’t get too hung up on details or replay the interview over and over in your mind. But make an effort to determine what you would change if you could, and bear this in mind for future selection processes.

4) Reflect on the job

On occasion, the interview process (and subsequent aftermath) can make you realise that, actually, this wasn’t the job for you.

That can be a daunting realisation, but you should use the experience to help you identify what you really want to do. Have a look back over the jobs you’ve applied for and identify what it was about them that attracted you.

For example, you may know that you definitely want to work in project management, but decide that you’ve been looking in the wrong industry so far. Or maybe your interest in people means you should be going for a sales role rather than one in HR.

As Emma Kershaw, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd, explains: “Once you’ve identified what was wrong with the jobs you haven’t scored, you can identify roles for which you’re more suited. That should make the next application much more straightforward.”

5) Be resilient. Bounce straight back

The world isn’t going to end because you’ve been rejected for a job. And besides, the jobs market keeps ebbing and flowing even though you’ve had a personal setback.

A job rejection is a little like a break up: by all means take some time to feel sorry for yourself. Put some sad music on the stereo and open a tube or two of Pringles.

But sooner or later you need to put your energy into reflecting, learning and getting yourself back in the game. That’s the way to bounce back from rejection and land the job of your dreams.

To find your next opportunity, check out the Just Recruitment jobs pages.

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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