Early career

Handling job rejection: useful tips how to stay positive

April 9, 2021
4 min read

Photo by João Ferrão

Whether you are a student at the beginning of your career or an experienced professional looking for a career change, experiencing rejection is an inevitable part of the job hunting process.

Getting turned down for a job is not an enjoyable experience. Especially when considering the hours you have put into the preparation. Nonetheless, with the right mindset, you can better handle the rejection by treating it like an experience. This will help you build on your skills and learn from past mistakes.

I am an undergraduate student currently applying for graduate jobs, and believe me when I say that I have had my fair share of rejection emails. However, I have noticed a few things that I started implementing into my job hunting process which dramatically changed my perspective.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

1. Treat rejection as part of the process

In an ideal world, you would send an application, have an interview and sign an employment contract. Simple, right? Sadly, in the current job market it is virtually impossible to get a job like that. Getting a rejection from a job application is all part of the process. It does not mean you are not good enough to do the job. It means that for this particular position in this particular company, other candidates were better.

I know this does not sound particularly uplifting, but it is an important consideration to bear in mind. Try to see the bigger picture: if you got rejected, it means there are things to work on. Have you considered your interview skills? Wojo offers coaching in this area, and you can get a call from our experienced coaches to help you prepare! Once you perfect those areas, you are more likely to land a job.

Photo by Campaign Creators

2. Ask for feedback and reflect

The key thing to do is to think about what happened and learn from it. This is where you have to ask for feedback. It is possibly the most valuable thing you can do when faced with a rejection. It helps you outline your weaknesses and identify where things went wrong. It also encourages you to see where your strengths lie, which you can stress on in your future applications.

At the start of university, I applied for many first year summer internships but did not manage to secure a place. I was devastated, especially when I was seeing my coursemates getting their offers. I asked the recruiters for feedback; I heard that even though I striked as ambitious, hardworking and enthusiastic, my application was rejected because it was too generic. From there, I always remembered to tailor my application to every single job I applied for. Sure, maybe an 18-year-old was not supposed to know this. But from then, there has not been a single job application that I got rejected without an interview.

Try and think of your preparation and each stage of the recruitment process and identify what happened. Ask yourself what went well and what did not — and be honest! For example, were there any questions you felt unprepared for? Did you feel like you were not specific enough during the interview?

There is always room for improvement; with the right plan and time spent in reflection, you can move your self-development forward and get a job!
Photo by Luis Villasmil

3. Do not compare

Most importantly — stop comparing yourself to others. It is your life, your journey and your career. I know it is easier said than done, and LinkedIn is not helping; seeing your connections getting promoted or landing the job you wanted can be discouraging. But, we all must overcome our own obstacles and hurdles along the way.

Be patient, be resilient and learn from your mistakes. Your time will come. You will be your own success story.

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