How to Deal with Rejection During the Job Hunt

3 minute read

Job hunting isn’t always easy and for many of us it often comes with rejection. The past 18 months have been particularly tough on candidates with fewer jobs on the market and much economic uncertainty. The good news is that things have picked up considerably and there are now far more opportunities available to jobseekers.  

But how can you keep your motivation and morale up during the job hunt? And is there anything that you can learn from rejection? We look at some key strategies.  

If you’re consistently rejected at application stage

If you’re struggling to get an interview and have had several rejections at application stage, it’s worth analysing why it’s happening. Could it be that you’re going for roles that are a bit too senior for your level of experience? Perhaps you haven’t quite taken the time to carefully tailor your cover letter to each role? Are you lacking a particular skill that is needed for the job that you’re after? We’re always told that a ‘scattergun’ approach is rarely effective when it comes to searching for work, and it’s worth putting some real time and effort into the application process. Next time you apply, pay extra attention to the job spec, and make sure your cover letter addresses each of the required skills on it. Get a relative or friend to check it before sending.  

the art and science of writing a great cv

If you’re struggling to get past the first interview 

There will always be interviews in which either you or the recruiter will quickly conclude that the job isn’t the best fit for you. You might find out that the role is slightly different to what was described in the ad. At the same time, the recruiter might realise that you’re missing a skill that other candidates have, or you don’t have the level of experience that they’d hoped for. But if you find that you’ve been rejected multiple times at this first interview stage, it might be to do with your interview technique.  

Make sure that you’re not unwittingly saying things at interview which are putting recruiters off, such as using cliches when talking about your weaknesses. Take the time to practise your answers to the common questions that you’re likely to be asked and that do your research on the organisation you’re applying to. If you’re doing all these things and you’re still getting rejected, press your interviewer for constructive feedback and take it onboard. 


If you’re rejected at the final stage 

Well done for getting this far! It’s a real achievement to get through to the final interview stage.  It’s understandably frustrating that you didn’t get the job as you were so close. Here, it’s more important than ever to learn from your feedback. Most good recruiters will take the time to ring you and tell you why they’ve rejected you. Use this opportunity to ask deeper questions about how you could have improved your performance. And be sure to stay in touch with the recruiter. You might even consider adding them on LinkedIn to see whether they publish any other roles in the future. You’d be surprised at how often new job opportunities come about from initial rejections. Getting to the final stage shows that you’re certainly a strong candidate and it’s only a matter of time until you find a fantastic role that suits your skills.  

walking around during phone interview

If you haven’t heard back 

There are few things more annoying during a recruitment process than not hearing back from your prospective employer, especially if you’ve managed to get through to the final stages. It’s easy to quickly get disheartened and assume the worst. But there are many possible reasons for the lack of reply. It could be to do with your interviewer being on leave, or because they’re awaiting budget approval for the role internally.  

If it’s been over a week and you haven’t heard back, send your recruiter a friendly email to show them that you’re still interested in the role and that you’re continuing your search. Don’t be too firm or give them deadlines by why you need to hear back (unless you genuinely have another offer on the table). Your email is likely to prompt them into at least explaining what has caused the delay.  

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Do your best to stay positive 

Take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved. You might find that it’s helpful to make a list of your positive qualities and make sure that they feature in your next application. It’s all about breaking down the negative feedback loop and focusing on your accomplishments. It might take you a little longer than anticipated to find your dream job, but you will get there.  

Ewa Jozefkowicz

CharityJob's Content Manager Ewa Jozefkowicz has a passion for all things digital, particularly when it comes to UX and writing engaging copy. In her spare time she likes to travel and devour huge quantities of books.

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