How to Deal With Rejection While Job Hunting

3 minute read

Job hunting isn’t always easy, and for many of us it often comes with rejection. So how can you keep your motivation and morale up during the process? And is there anything that you can learn from rejection while job hunting? We look at some key strategies.  


If you’re consistently rejected at application stage

When 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’s needed for the job that you’re after?

A scattergun approach is rarely effective when it comes to searching for work. It’s much better to focus your time and effort on carefully crafting each individual application. 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. Ask a friend or relative 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 where 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. The recruiter might realise that you’re missing a skill that other candidates have. Or you might not have the level of experience 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. Are you using clichés, for example when talking about your weaknesses? Take the time to practice your answers to the common questions that you’re likely to be asked. It’s also crucial to do your research on the organisation you’re applying to. And if you’re doing all these things and still getting rejected, press your interviewer for constructive feedback. 


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 not to get the job when you were so close. Here, it’s more important than ever to learn from your feedback.

Most good recruiters will take the time to call 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. 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 a strong candidate. 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. This is especially true 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 a lack of reply. It could be that your interviewer is on leave, or that 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. Let them know that you’re still interested in the role and that you’re continuing your search. But don’t be too firm or give them deadlines for when 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.


Do your best to stay positive 

It’s never fun to experience rejection while job hunting. But take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved so far. You may find it 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.  

Put these tips into practice and browse jobs today.


This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.

Tomas René

Tomas is Senior Content Manager (maternity cover) at CharityJob.

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