What you need to know when dealing with job rejection

You’ve seen your dream job; spent hours working on your resume and cover letter to get them perfect; submitted them in with your job application; and waited for the call. Alternatively, you’ve received a job interview; spent hours reading up about the organization and practicing interview questions; interviewed, and felt it went well. Unfortunately, you’re not the preferred candidate in both situations. Rejection in general is difficult to handle even at the best of times. However, told you’re not the one can be painful with so much investment into the perfect resume, cover letter, and interview preparation. Now you have to search and apply for the next job with no certainty of an interview or offer. Being able to handle job rejection is part and parcel of successfully finding a job. Taking on board the following steps will help put the hiring process and job rejection in context. Just remember, every “no” means you are one step closer to a “yes.” The following is what you need to know when dealing with job rejection.

Be Realistic

Did you know that 2-3% of candidates that apply for a job get asked to interview? (How Many Interviews For One JobWhy Only 2% of Job Seekers Get Interviewed). Out of 100 applicants, only take 2 – 3 will interview. Those are pretty slim odds, aren’t they? In a competitive job market, everybody is in the same position as you. However, most of the rejected 97% won’t even match the job description. You must be applying for jobs where you match the job description to give yourself the best opportunity to be in 2 – 3% who interview. However, no matter how experienced or great you are at your job. Sometimes, you just can’t beat a candidate who meets all the employer’s requirements and ticks every box. I have always submitted candidates to employers who meet the job description during my recruitment experience. On occasion, the employer has preferred a candidate from a different recruitment agency. The employer was not rejecting my candidate and didn’t think they couldn’t do the job. Instead, the employer went with someone who they felt was a slightly better fit. Remember, employers all have their own biases (conscious and subconscious). Another employer may have interviewed or hired my candidate. Alternatively, maybe the employer made the right decision in hiring the other candidate. For example, my candidate might not have enjoyed the culture or could have struggled to work with someone resulting in a personality clash. Consequently, they would have been miserable in the role. Sometimes, you need to realize that the employer got the decision right. No matter how perfect you felt, you would have been at it. Accepting the reality of the hiring process is crucial in helping you with any future job rejections. Every job you apply to won’t result in an interview or offer. In fact, it would be weird if it happens, so make sure you are realistic with your outlook.

Get Feedback

Getting concrete feedback from the employer or recruiter is one of the best ways to help you move on from job rejection. It will give you insight into what you did well and where you can improve in the hiring process. You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into the process, and it would be a wasted opportunity not to take advantage of it. Feedback will help you polish up your resume or interview skills for the next opportunity. If the feedback feels generic and doesn’t offer you any great insight, don’t be afraid to ask for more specific details. Take all feedback professionally and thank them for their honesty. There is no point asking for feedback and then getting defensive if they mention something you disagree with. Asking for feedback shows you are willing to learn and grow. You’re going out of your way to follow up and are prepared to take it head-on. This makes an impression for the right reasons. Additionally, just because they’ve said no now doesn’t mean it will be forever. If they are an organization you want to work for in the future, they may keep you in mind for something else. However, be aware that some companies may have a “no feedback” policy to avoid legal implications. Regardless, it’s still worth asking, even if you don’t get a response. You can at least move on knowing you gave your best.

Grow From It

Getting feedback regarding a job rejection is a great start, but it’s what you do with it that counts. Each setback is a chance to learn about yourself and prove to yourself how you respond to rejection. Feeling disappointed is only natural, but it comes down to how quickly you rebound and take the steps required to address the feedback. For example, perhaps you lack a particular skill, qualification, or certificate. You may need to invest in additional training or a course to upskill yourself. Alternatively, it may be something more straightforward in the way you came across in the interview. In that case, you can always video yourself and watch back to work on your body language and how you answer questions. Learning from the feedback and taking action is all you can do to fill the gaps and prepare as best as you can for the next opportunity. Overcoming these obstacles could be the difference between you getting the job or not next time.

Being able to cope with the ups and downs of the job-hunting process is the key to your success. Work on developing a resilient mindset to not miss out on opportunities because you’re not in a positive state. Take a constructive approach when faced with a setback and focus on the opportunity to learn. You can’t succeed without failure, and you’ll struggle to progress if you continually play it safe. Focus on the positive and look to find a solution, which is the key to becoming more resilient. It might even help for you to read up on 3 career lessons from 2020 to help you in 2021


It’s essential to live in reality and understand that an interview or job offer will not occur every single time. Everyone is in the same situation as you. Sometimes you can’t beat another candidate who ticks all the boxes for the job. Getting concrete feedback will help put the rejection in perspective. It will set you apart from others who won’t follow up and learn how they could have done better. However, it’s what you do with the feedback that counts. Focusing on improving and developing your mindset to become more resilient should be ongoing. It will allow you to focus on ensuring you don’t stall and miss out on opportunities. While we all want to have jobs and careers we love, remember to spend time with friends, family and take the time to exercise. Learning to accept rejection is part of the process on your way to finding your dream job and career.  

Let Me Know Your Thoughts Below:

How do you handle job rejection? What do you do to move on? Let me know in the comments below.

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