What If You Don’t Get The Job? 3 Ways to Handle Rejection

Sometimes, things don’t work out. Despite the best efforts and intentions of everyone involved in your recruiting process, you won’t get the role. It can be easy to fall into a foul mood and write the entire experience off as a dead end – but here are some ways you can learn from your rejection and improve your future chances.

  1. Don’t take it personally. It’s difficult, of course, rejection in any form in any part of life is unpleasant – but sometimes candidates react too emotionally to a rejection. Remember that hiring managers aren’t ever making a judgement on you as a person or even as a professional – they’re just deciding someone else is a better fit for their specific job within their specific team within their specific company. Sometimes I’ll see candidates get one or two rejections and get very disheartened about their entire job search – but the right role for you is out there.
  2. Get feedback. Time to take practical steps – always, always, always ask for feedback. Even if you’ve been discounted at CV stage, ask why. And don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper if you get a generic response – if you’re told “other candidates had more experience” then ask what type of experience you’re lacking, and if you feel that you actually do have that experience but you’ve failed to highlight it, don’t be afraid to push back and explain this. On the other hand, if they do raise something that’s genuinely missing from your current skill set, you now have an area you can work on.
  3. Don’t burn any bridges. During all of your post-rejection interactions with an organisation, keep it friendly and polite to give yourself the best chance at any future openings there. It’s not uncommon for a manager to call us months or even years after seeing a candidate of ours to say “Are you still in contact with [x], I know they weren’t right for that last role but we liked them a lot and I think we now have something that would be perfect for them”.

Rejection is another normal part of your career journey. The important thing is to take lessons learned from any job you don’t get and apply them to your next application. Every failure is an opportunity to learn, refine your approach and improve. Whether it’s a skill you need to learn, a qualification you need to attain or even just a note on your conduct in interviews, there’s always something you can take away that will make all the difference the next time around.

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