It's an unavoidable truth: you're unlikely to secure every job you desire. Rejection is a standard part of the job hunt, but how you manage it ultimately shapes your future success.
Rejection can occur at various stages in your job search:

  • During the application process: Whether you receive a formal rejection letter or email, or you hear nothing at all, this phase is where job seekers often encounter rejection. Fortunately, you haven't invested significant time, money, or effort in a specific job opportunity at this point.
  • Post-interview rejection: If you go through  job interviews and are not chosen, it's common to feel a sense of rejection.
Given that the average job search can take up to five months, encountering rejection is par for the course. Here are some tips to help you navigate job search rejection effectively.

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.

Don’t Set Yourself Up For Rejection

​Your mindset and attitude play a big part in your job search success. Counting yourself out before you even apply for a position is common, especially if you’ve experienced rejection previously. If you find yourself saying things like, “They only hire from within. I don’t know why I’m even bothering to apply,” or “They’re asking for a degree and 10 years of experience, and I only have five years,” you’re setting yourself up for rejection.
Actually, you’re trying to protect yourself from having to experience rejection. You may not end up applying at all if you talk yourself out of it. Looking at a job posting and thinking to yourself “I’m overqualified” or “I’m underqualified” is an example of this type of anticipatory rejection. If you don’t apply, they’ll never reject you, right? But you might also miss out on a great opportunity — or even the opportunity to get to practice your job interview skills.

Prepare For Your Next Interview

​One of the best things you can do to overcome the sting of rejection is to keep moving forward in your job search. Don’t dwell on the job or jobs you don’t get — instead, see every “no” as getting you closer to your next “yes.” This isn’t always easy, but spending time “doing” instead of “thinking” is not only going to help get your closer to your job search goal, but it will help you develop a more positive attitude. After all, dwelling on the rejection isn’t going to change anything. Getting interviews for other opportunities can.
Although it seems counterintuitive, one of the best ways to overcome rejection is to apply for more positions. While it seems like you’re inviting even more rejection to come your way, the job search is a numbers game in many respects. Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that — on average — half of job candidates will receive at least one interview request after submitting at least 10 applications. So, while you are increasing the potential of rejection in the short term, you are increasing the chances of getting a job interview — and possible job offer — in the long term.
To increase your chances of being hired, apply to 10-15 positions per week while also following up on previous applications. Remind yourself that most job applicants receive more rejections than job offers. Rejection is part of the job search, but your ability to overcome it is critical to your eventual success in the job search.
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About the Author

Mandy Fard is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW, CMRW) and Recruiter with decades of experience in assisting job seekers, working directly with employers in multiple industries, and writing proven-effective resumes.
Feel free to connect with Mandy Fard on LinkedIn:

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