Turned down? How to handle job rejection

Written by: Cameron Collins
Published On: 22 Aug 2017

Few things hit the confidence harder than being rejected after getting an interview. You polished your CV to perfection, you sent the application, you got that call, and no matter which way you cut it; you handled the interview with finesse the likes of which have never before. Finally, you get the email and you see that word… “unfortunately.” You realise it’s a rejection letter and it hits you like a punch to the gut. It’s crushing, especially when it seemed like your dream job, like there would never be another one like it.

job rejection

For most jobseekers this happens far too often, it’s a reality that’s not overly encouraging. However, it’s important to take the rejection for what it is and not blow it out of proportion. It’s not a sign of irredeemable, unequivocal failure, no matter how much it may feel like it. It’s just another part of the job searching process, one that – if handled calmly and objectively – can be taken as an invaluable learning experience. So, here are a few tips on how on how keep a calm mind, focus your strengths, and use that rejection as a tool to find the job of your dreams.

Look on the bright side

Try not to take the rejection personally. Generally speaking, it’s pretty unlikely you didn’t get the job solely due to your personality, style, qualifications, or performance, so don’t pile all of the blame onto yourself. You can do everything perfectly and still not get the job for a multitude of reasons: Someone else may have just had qualifications more specifically suited to the role, or the company could have recruited an internal candidate, and let’s not forget the possibility of a classic ‘candidate who’s friends with the recruiter’.

Remember that this is something that happens to everyone, especially in today’s competitive market. Surely every person who gets rejected can’t have made some terrible mistake that ruined their chances? The reality is that interviewers are always being forced to turn down fantastic candidates, even when they’re a great fit for the role.

It’s easy to dwell on the disappointment, especially if it seems like you did everything right. However, dwelling upon the rejection really isn’t the most productive endeavour. You’ll likely find your job searching experience to be a lot more uplifting (and more importantly, rewarding) if you instead focus on what you know you did right, rather than what you think you may have done wrong. That fact that you were invited to an interview in the first place is testament that you’ve done something extraordinarily right, remember; an employer read through your CV and cover letter and decided that you were someone they wanted to work for them. That’s what you need to focus on.

Learn from it 

The most important thing you can possibly do in this situation is to learn from it. One of the best (and most strangely overlooked) ways of doing so is simply asking the interviewer for feedback. If you did something desperately wrong during the interview, you’ll need to know so you don’t make the same mistake again. Asking for feedback is also a great way to find what you excelled at; if your CV was undeniably one the best they’d ever seen, for instance. It’s a great way to find out where you stand and is completely integral to refining your job searching skills. Just send the interviewer an email asking for their opinion on what you did well and what you need to improve. And don’t forget to thank them, not just for their feedback but for their time in general. It’s an awful lot of work to set up an interview and remember; you may just still work for them one day.

Get yourself back in the game

If one thing was made perfectly clear by your rejection, it’s that your work’s not done. Yes, you have to put yourself back on the market. There are; however, a few things you should consider doing first: One is narrowing your job search. This gives you time and ample opportunity to alter and refine your CV in order to cater to the jobs you apply for. A little more scrutiny towards job posting will also lead you towards only applying for jobs you really like the look of, making that next interview invite all that more exiting.

It should also be acknowledged that job searching is a stressful process; so (if you can), consider taking a short break to revitalise yourself. Spend a few days doing something you enjoy while you wait for that feedback, clear your mind and you’ll find yourself a lot more capable when you get back in the game.

Branch out

Job searching can be especially difficult if you work in a specialised field. For instance, how many companies could realistically be hiring Cryptographic engineers in your area? Facing rejection for an interview regarding a specialised job only serves to make the rejection feel infinitely worse. However, there are ways to tackle this:

It really all comes down to branching out and making sure you find that perfect opportunity when it pops up. If you have friends in the industry try asking them if they know of any vacancies that may interest you, or if they’d be willing to ask around on your behalf. If not, why not consider signing up with agency? Agencies are a fantastic way to find interview opportunities that you may not have known about.  Job boards also fill this role and thus are worth your time checking them out, both online and in print. You can find that next job opportunity at the click of a button.

When you find a job that looks good for you, go for it! If you’ve used your prior rejection as learning experience, refined your job searching skills, and got yourself back in the right state of mind; there’s nothing to stop you from landing yourself an interview even better than the one you missed.