• Dealing With Job-Hunting Rejection

    Dealing With Job-Hunting Rejection

    The road to employment is paved with successes and failures. Here’s how to stay optimistic and be proactive when faced with job-hunting rejection.

    Here comes at least one time in most people’s lives when they are officially seeking employment. Whether you’ve just finished studying, have completed an internship or are looking for a change of scenery or a new career path altogether, job-hunting is something that, unless you have a guaranteed spot in the family business, we all have to go through. While some people are lucky the first time around (tell us your secrets), most of us will face rejection. Maybe once, maybe a few times. And it’s never pleasant.

    Rejection of any kind can make us feel like we aren’t good enough. When it comes to jobs, however, there are so many things going on behind the scenes that could impact the decision of a potential employer, many of which are not within your control.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t make hearing the phrase, ‘Sorry to inform you, but your application has been unsuccessful,’ any easier. Not only can it set you back career-wise, but it can negatively effect your self-esteem too. Here’s how not to let that happen, and what you can do to move onward and upward.


    So you submitted an application, went for an interview (which you thought went very well, if you do say so yourself), but ended up not nabbing the post. Anyone would be disappointed in this scenario, but how you deal with it is what’s important.

    Don’t say anything negative about the company, whether it’s to employees or management, or in an angry social media post. This could impair your chances of finding a job not just at that company, but in the industry at large. And burning bridges is never a smart idea.

    Do have a vent in a private setting with a trusted friend or family member. This can be a helpful way to process your feelings and get out any pent-up frustration without it coming back to haunt you.


    Disappointment, anger and frustration are just a few of the feelings you could experience after not getting a position you applied for. You may experience a range of emotions, and it’s crucial that you process them and channel them in healthy ways so that you can move forward freely.

    Do not take it personally. ‘If you don’t get a “yes”, mentally reframe it in a positive way,’ suggests Dr Jeffrey Kudisch, University of Maryland professor and co-founder of Personnel Assessment Systems, Inc, a human resource consulting firm specialising in management and executive assessment.

    ‘Instead of feeling hopeless or embarrassed, consider the possibility that you didn’t hear back because the company decided not to fill the position. Or maybe that position wouldn’t have been the right one for you. Don’t assume you blew the interview; there are probably a variety of reasons you didn’t get the job, so try to keep a positive mental perspective.’ Do get comfortable with hearing the word ‘no’. ‘The average jobseeker is rejected by 24 decision makers before they get the “yes”, according to research from career coach and author Orville Pierson,’ claims Dr Kudisch. ‘Staying resilient throughout the job-search process means getting comfortable with rejections.’


    While it may be painful to admit, the reason you didn’t bag the position may just be your fault. Sad, but true. This means you may need to do some self-reflection and introspection to see what could have gone wrong.

    Don’t beat yourself up about it, as this will only play into the feelings of rejection you may be experiencing. It may be a blessing in disguise; if the company felt you weren’t a good fit, you could very likely not have enjoyed working there anyway.

    Do comb through your CV and make sure that your skills match the position you are applying for. ‘Spend time vetting your skills with specific positions, and tailor your CV and cover letters for each application,’ suggests Dr Kudisch. ‘You have to do your homework.’ If you are struggling, ask a friend or a trusted colleague to go over your CV and give you pointers on how you could improve it. Remember: It should be concise and to the point, but still reflect who you are as a person and potential employee.


    Social media has become a huge part of our lives over the past few years, and this goes for how we find jobs too. Rather than seeing them as just a way to share cute cat pictures with your friends (which they are), use them as platforms to promote yourself and connect with others.

    Don’t think that spending time online is a waste, and that you should be pounding the pavement. In fact, if you avoid Candy Crush and spend your time job-hunting, making connections and letting people know that you are on the job market, you could find yourself being called for an interview.

    Do create and update profiles on social media platforms specifically geared towards jobseekers, such as LinkedIn. They allow you to add people you have worked with who can vouch for your skill set, and show you which of the companies you’d like to work for have job openings.

    Job-hunting is one of life’s many challenges, and it won’t always be smooth sailing. ‘As you encounter setbacks, remember that it’s what you do when you face adversity that defines you,’ says Dr Kudisch. ‘Prevent rejection from derailing your job-search efforts by not taking it personally, keeping a smile on your face, and staying mentally tough.’ As Oprah Winfrey once said: ‘There is no such thing as failure  – failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.’ Adopt this attitude, exercise patience, show resilience, and success will eventually come. Go get ’em!

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