It’s inevitable. You probably aren’t going to get every job you want. Rejection is common in the job search. It’s how you handle it that will determine your eventual success.
Rejection is possible at multiple times during the job search:
- In the application process. Whether you get a formal rejection letter or email — or don’t receive any response at all — this is the most common stage of the job search to experience rejection. Fortunately, however, you likely haven’t invested much time, money, or effort in a specific job opportunity at this point.
- After a job interview. If you interview for a job opportunity and are not selected, feelings of being rejected are common.
With the average job search taking up to five months, experiencing rejection along the way is not uncommon. Here are some tips to help you overcome rejection in the job search.
Don’t Take Rejection Personally
For every publicly advertised job opening, research from Forbes magazine estimates there are 118 applicants. Of those applying, fewer than one-fourth of the candidates will be invited to interview for the position. Even if you’re selected to interview, you’re likely facing other well-qualified candidates. Maybe someone had more experience than you did. Perhaps there was a favored internal candidate, and the application and interview process were a formality. None of that has to do with you or your skills, education, or experience.
The sooner you realize that you’re not going to be a fit for every role, the sooner you can move on from rejection and move forward with your job search.
Learn From the Experience
Conduct a review (sometimes called a “post-mortem”) on your job interview.
- Was there anything you could have done better to prepare? Were there any questions you were asked that you weren’t prepared to answer?
- How well did your qualifications match up with the job opportunity? If you interviewed, there was a fit. But how close of a fit was it?
- Did the interview raise any opportunities for you to improve? Are there specific skills, courses, certifications, or other training that you can complete to be better prepared for your next role?
If you’re not offered the job, it’s fine to reach out to the interviewer and ask for feedback about why they selected another candidate. You might not get a response — but if you do, it can be very helpful to receive reassurance that you were a strong candidate, but there was another candidate who was just a better fit for that specific role. Maybe the company decided it needed a different skill set for the position after they started interviewing candidates. Or maybe you were missing a critical skill — but now you know what that is.
Also, take a moment to reflect on your previous successes. How have you been successful in getting previous job opportunities? If you got your most recent job because one of your networking contacts put in a good word for you, think about how you can incorporate that into your current job search. If you were placed by a recruiter in your most recent role, but this time around, you’re applying for positions directly, consider whether you should reach out to a few recruiters to explore opportunities. Also, consider that applicants who are referred to the position by a current employee receive an interview approximately half the time, with 20% of employee referrals resulting in a job offer. In short, do more of what worked for you before.