Even the most capable, charismatic and accomplished among us will face rejection in some form throughout our lives, it’s just par for the course. But when it comes to finding a job, rejection can feel that much more demoralising, especially if it happens repeatedly. In fact, research shows the average job seeker in the UK is rejected 24 times before being offered a role – so despite that feeling like a rather depressing and daunting prospect, hopefully it’s comforting to know that it’s simply part of the process.
We thought we’d share some of the best ways to deal with a job rejection so you can come back fighting for the next round.
- Take a deep breath and give yourself some time to reflect
We've put this one right at the top because it’s the very first and most important thing you need to do – every time. It sounds a bit vague and unhelpful, but it’s actually pretty crucial. The initial feelings you have when you’re rejected - disappointment, anger, sadness, outrage, whatever your gut response might be - can be overwhelming and debilitating. They can also make you think and do irrational things – someone we know got the phone call to say she hadn’t got the job she desperately wanted while she was in Tesco and was so angry at herself she threw a cucumber down the salad aisle. It might sound obvious, but we’d suggest you give yourself some time to calm down, reflect and consolidate your thoughts and feelings before you do anything. Get it all out of your system (scream, shout, sob, throw a cucumber – whatever you need to do) before you can do the rest of the list below.
- Ask for feedback
If you’re applying through a recruitment agency, your consultant will be asking for this on your behalf as standard, but it’s always a good idea to specifically request it. If you’ve attended an interview, you can expect the panel to be willing to offer some constructive criticism (even if it does tend to be limited) which you can use to your advantage at the next interview. Make the interviewer (or recruitment agency) aware how important feedback is to you, as this will show them how committed you are to self-development and that you welcome any feedback (positive or negative) as a way to improve. With one piece of solid feedback from every rejection, it makes each one a genuine and helpful learning experience.
- It’s not always about you
This one might sound like we’re just trying to soften the blow with the age-old ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ rhetoric – but genuinely, in some cases this might be true. Perhaps you nailed the interview and demonstrated perfectly how you would be the best person for the role, and left feeling really confident about your chances - but if you don’t fit the team or company culture, for whatever reason, then there was only ever going to be one outcome. Sometimes companies (or individual decision-makers) have a very set idea (rightly or wrongly) about who they want to fill a role, and unless you tick those boxes, your chances of success are limited. You could have been an interview version of Google, firing back speedy and perfect answers while solving a Rubik’s Cube standing on your head, but it still wouldn’t have been enough. So sometimes – it's really not about you. And that’s okay. If they didn’t think you were right for the company, it’s probably best (for you) that you weren’t offered the role. If you asked for feedback, and company fit or culture was the main comment – then this one isn’t on you.
- Refine your search
Use a job rejection as an opportunity to review whether you’re applying for the right roles. Scrutinise the job descriptions and person specifications – are they what you really want to be applying for? Are you being too broad (or unrealistic) in your applications? Whilst we know you can expect to receive several rejections before landing your next role, it’s always worth checking that the reason isn’t due to a mismatch between you and the types of roles or companies you’re targeting. We’d be happy to offer you some advice if you need support on this.
- Let it go
In the style of Queen Elsa and her immortal anthem of liberation – let it go. If you want to show true commitment, you can give yourself an on trend side plait, put on a glittering dress and build yourself a magic ice castle to show how much you just don’t care. At the very least, you can use every rejection to build your personal resilience. Developing a mindset of grit and perseverance is essential for long-term success in any field - so really, every rejection is an opportunity to grow both your self-understanding and your ability to bounce back and deal with disappointment. Doing it while singing along to Disney is just a bonus.
If you need help with your job search, or would like us to support you on any of the above, please get in touch on 01932 355000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to help you refine your search, review your interview technique, throw vegetables in Tesco or belt out a power ballad – just let us know what you need!