Dealing with Rejection

The main requirement for successful job hunting is to believe in yourself and your abilities. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll always get an interview or a job offer, but self-belief represents an approach to life that is important for your own wellbeing and future prospects. By maintaining self-belief through the ups and downs of job hunting, the knockbacks won’t knock you down.

Post-interview knockbacks

It can be harder to accept rejection when it follows an interview. If you’re not offered the job or a second interview try to obtain feedback on your performance (note that some companies have a policy of not providing feedback).

Some important dos and don’ts when calling for feedback

  • Do stay positive.
  • Don’t express discontent at not being successful.
  • Don’t take feedback personally or respond defensively.
  • Do finish the conversation on a positive note. (You may want to apply to this company again.)

It’s important to review your performance after every interview (even if you think you went well). Jot down notes about any questions you had trouble with or answers that worked for you. If you’re not offered the job you can look back on your notes and draw lessons for next time.

Turning it around –improving your chances of success

There are numerous resources available to help you to identify appropriate job opportunities and improve your chances of success. Use the internet, your university careers service and personal networks for background research. Visit your university careers service for assistance with interview preparation, presentation of applications and skills assessment.

However, if the rejections are coming in thick and fast, it’s important to assess your approach to identify potential areas for improvement.

You’re not getting interviews

If you’re not getting any interviews, consider the type of jobs you are applying for, the way you apply, how you present yourself and your skills and qualities.

Ask yourself the following questions each time you are not selected for interview:

  • Do I have the qualifications or academic average required?
  • Is the position suitable for a recent graduate?
  • Do I tailor every application to clearly show I meet and understand the individual job requirements?
  • Is my résumé and application well-presented, professional and free of spelling and grammatical errors?
  • Does my cover letter add to my application? Is the tone appropriate?
  • Do I demonstrate an understanding of the organisation and/or industry?
  • Do I address the selection criteria, with reference to relevant experience, skills and knowledge?
  • Have I highlighted all my skills and job-related qualities?
  • Do I match my terminology and language to the job advertisement to ensure my application is identified by keyword software that some employers use?

Keep persevering!

If you think you’re doing all the right things, it might simply be a case of persevering. Few people land their dream job after one attempt. However, if you are unsure about your application style, consult an expert for feedback. This could include a university or private careers consultant or a recruiter.

If you are being invited to interviews, take that as confirmation that your written application is hitting the mark!

If you are not selected for an interview or a position, it’s not a personal put-down. Be positive, move forward and take the opportunity to learn so that you can be more confident next time.

(Adapted from an article by Pauline Brown, Careers Consultant, University of Melbourne, from the 2008 edition of GCA’s employer directory Graduate Opportunities.)