5 tips to handling job search rejection

5 tips to handling job search rejection

The current job market is highly competitive. Employers are spoiled for choice when it comes to sourcing candidates and placing them into roles. Social media profiling, network enquiries, time pressures and sometimes, even laziness, finds them being more and more specific about the ‘fit’ of candidate to company.

Where once a candidate with highly transferable skills could readily move sideways into a role utilising complementary skills, or a candidate with relevant experience could grow and develop into and within a new position, recruiters and corporate hiring managers can now literally pick people out of companies doing the exact same role and put them into another company to do the exact same thing.

It saves on development costs and reduces risk (apparently), and allows hiring managers to move quickly to appoint candidates and move onto the next vacancy. Tick, tick, file closed… next! It’s a challenging environment for candidates and recruiters/hiring managers alike.

If you’re in the market searching for your next opportunity, you’re probably doing all the right things.

My go-to list includes:

– Talking to recruiters who specialise in your area
– Applying for roles that interest you
– Engaging your networks on LinkedIn and Twitter
– Reaching out to hiring managers who post jobs on LinkedIn that you’re interested in
– Setting up coffee meetings with people within organisations for whom you’d like to work
– Searching job boards

However, you’re not going to land every role you apply for, nor secure interviews for many. Inevitably you’ll have to manage rejection that can come in many forms, including:

– Automatically from an ATS (applicant tracking system)
– From a hiring manager or recruiter via email or telephone
– From your potential manager, post interview
– The silence that comes from no response, acknowledgement, or feedback at all to an application you’ve made

How you respond to and manage rejection can have a significant impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. Most people who have been in the market will attest to the fact that it can be a difficult place to be, professionally and emotionally. Whether you’re already employed and keen to make a move out of your current role or have left a role to concentrate on your search, everyone wants to make a connection, score an interview, and land their next opportunity.

So here are my top tips for managing job search rejection:
  1. Just because someone fails to see your value, doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable.
  2. Be aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour as you receive each rejection. For example: you have a discussion with a recruiter who won’t interview you for the role you’ve applied for because the client has a very strict brief as to the industries from which they want their candidates. Instead of feeling angry at the recruiter, less valued, worried about securing employment and potentially responding with a “well it’s their loss” conversation or email, try to hear what you say to yourself (self talk), as this will influence your feelings and behaviour. You can see that the client’s brief and recruiter’s position start the process. But it’s your thinking that produces how you ultimately feel. Therefore a better response may be: you have the conversation with the recruiter, you think it’s unfair they won’t put you forward for the role, but accept their reasoning. You feel disappointed, but kept in perspective as you know there are other opportunities out there and it’s only a matter of time before you land your next great role.
  3. If you’re interested in receiving specific feedback, request it. Use this as motivation for your next application or interview. Be prepared that you may receive none… if so, take action as per point 2.
  4. Don’t speak disparagingly of an employer, recruiter or hiring manager because things didn’t go your way. You may need them one day.
  5. Keep going. Your ability to sustain the momentum will help you land that job. Be engaged, make connections and don’t throw in the towel.

Remember, no one enjoys a job search rejection. You might not think so now, but sometimes you may have even unknowingly dodged a bullet. And remember at the end of the day, it will only ‘suck’ as much as you let it!

More reading: 

The day social media killed your job chances
Cultural fit: How to match your skills and personality to a job
Why does job hunting strike fear into the heart of even the bravest hunters?
If you want a great next role, get ill first!
Hire someone who wants your job
3 steps to make your cover letter stand out and land you a job
How to stay positive during your job search
Before starting a new job, maker sure it’s the same one you applied for


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