Stop Rejecting Yourself During the Job Hunt
Everyone experiences rejection—and it’s not a great feeling, especially when you’ve written hundreds of applications and attended dozens of interviews only to be told that you haven’t gotten the job. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the job hunt (although no one likes to say this) and you have to hear ‘no’ a few times before getting that magical ‘yes’.
When it does get to this stage, it’s perfectly normal to feel deflated. And while you should give yourself some time to feel disappointed before jumping back into your job search, it’s important to try and get back to the positive attitude that you had when you first started looking for new roles.
So, instead of considering job rejection as the end of a road, start looking at the opportunities that can arise from it. Here are a few ways to productively tackle being turned down during any stage of your charity job search…
When you’re turned down immediately after submitting an application
You’ve read the job description and it sounds like the perfect fit for you. So you furiously get started with a cover letter and CV to be proud of but you get an email or letter explaining that your application has been unsuccessful.
It can be difficult to present everything that you have to offer on paper and occasionally organisations do miss out on great candidates because they overlook a CV. If you feel quite passionately about a role, try and get in touch with the HR Manager and ask for feedback. Reach out to them on LinkedIn or send a follow-up email. That way, you’ll have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes you may have made, or even better, be reconsidered.
When you’re turned down after an interview
It can be more difficult to hear that an organisation has chosen another candidate when they’ve met you in person. Considering the time and effort that you had channelled into preparing for the interview and tweaking your CV, it’s normal to feel a little disheartened. But you have to remember that this is one role—not every role you’ve applied for.
Turn this into an opportunity to meet new people and start developing a network. See if one interview can lead you to another area of an organisation by asking around to see if there’s another team hiring that could benefit from your skills, knowledge and experience. After all, you’ve made it this far!
If you do get in touch with an employer after an unsuccessful interview remember:
- Ask for feedback – the more you know the better and it will help you with future interviews
- Be gracious – you won’t be recommended to another team if they feel like you’re carrying a chip on your shoulder
- Show your value – now that they have a better understanding of what you have to offer, ask if you can be of service to any other departments
Despite what people think, recruiters don’t find persistency annoying (when done in the right way). Following up shows that you care and genuinely want to work for the organisation that you’ve applied for—which is incredibly meaningful in the charity sector.
When your interview was 2–3 weeks ago and you haven’t heard anything
Being left waiting for a reply is enough to drive you crazy. But whatever you do, don’t let your job search come to a complete halt. The reality is there are plenty of things that could be causing a delay: is your interviewer on holiday, do they need the approval of other senior staff, do they have to re-assess their budget and internal capacity? The list could go on.
As easy as it is to just assume the worst—now isn’t the time to talk yourself down. If it’s been more than 10–14 days since your interview, take a moment to send a friendly email to the person you’ve been in contact with.
Make sure that your message makes it explicitly clear:
- That you’re still very interested in the role
- You’re continuing your search and are waiting to hear back from other organisations
- You’re more than happy to provide any additional information that might help their decision
This isn’t the time to make demands by asking for a timeline and a status. It’s a chance for you to stand out from the other candidates by showing a genuine optimism for the role and organisation and communicate that (as you’re still searching) you may receive another offer.
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When you’ve emailed them and had no response
OK, so you’ve sent the perfect thank you note after the interview and haven’t heard back from them yet. Again, don’t assume the organisation or charity aren’t interested in you. Create a plan and handle this proactively.
Wait for a few days and message them again—make sure that you include your original email in the thread to refresh their memory and ask if there’s time to quickly chat about this.
Still not getting a reply? Now’s the time to give them a call. Remember that your interviewer is human too and it could just boil down to them being incredibly busy. But make sure you call first thing in the morning—you have a much better chance of catching them at their desk.
Regardless of the outcome, you have what it takes to find the role that you’re looking for. You also deserve to have an incredibly fulfilling career! So don’t let negative self-talk bring you down during the tougher stages of your job search.
‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘never’. So keep going. While it is tough, it will be worthwhile when you do land your dream job. Do you have any tips for handling job rejection? Share them with us by commenting below!
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.