How to handle job rejections like a pro


By Elaine Mead 

In today’s competitive market, applying for jobs usually goes hand-in-hand with rejection. This is the case for people at all skill and experience levels. 

It can be tricky not to let this demotivate you, especially when you’re not sure where you might be going wrong. The following tips may help you to use this an opportunity to learn and improve.  

Ask for feedback 

Wherever possible, always try to secure feedback from any applications or interviews. It could shine a light on any errors you might be making. Errors that, until they’re pointed out, you might not know about.  

Sometimes last thing you want to hear is what you’ve done wrong, especially in the midst of coping with rejection. Keep in mind how helpful feedback can be — it’s a learning opportunity for you to make sure you get it right next time.  

Most employers will be happy to provide feedback, especially following an interview. A simple, polite email or telephone request is often all it takes. 

Review your process 

If you’ve applied for job after job after job and you’re just not hearing anything at all, good or bad, then it may be time to carry out a review of your techniques and application process. 

Taking positive action can help you feel proactive about what you’re doing, rather than just sitting around not hearing anything at all.  

1. Review your CV  

If you’re sending out your CV, and no one’s biting, why are you still using it? Check your CV carefully or ask a professional to do this for you. 

2. Use the right websites  

if you’re only using the same few websites over and over again and not hearing back, maybe it’s time to move on. Research agencies and websites that are tailored to your job goals. 

3. Cut out the middleman  

if you’re using generic recruitment sites, see if you can find out who the employer is and go to them directly. 

4. Review your pitch  

Find someone else who can cast a professional eye over how you’re selling self. A mentor is perfect for this sort of thing. 

5. Keep track of your applications 

A job diary is a great way to keep track of everything you’ve applied for, note down login details for different sites, and keep a record of when you should hear back from any applications. 

If an advert says all applicants will hear back by a certain date, set yourself a reminder to follow up. If you’ve sent out 10 CVs speculatively to potential employers, you can note when you’ve sent them and when you’ll be carrying out follow up calls or emails. 

Try not to take it personally 

A job rejection isn’t a rejection of you as a person or your character (unless you really messed up the interview in some outrageous way, but let’s assume you didn’t!). 

Rejections are a common occurrence in today’s job market, and the majority of employers simply don’t have the time to respond to every single application individually. It’s important not to get disheartened or frustrated — seek feedback and do your best to move on. Keep your focus on your main goal: finding your new role! 

Elaine Mead is a Careers and Work-Integrated Learning Educator based in Tasmania. 

Further reading