Top Tips For Handling Job Rejection


“Recently I have been feeling so frustrated because I have sent so many applications and I have not received any feedback. What is worse is that I have attended so many interviews and got no feedback ,” states Jane Simiyu*  who adds that she would like to know how to handle this constant rejection and move forward.

Lets be honest, everyone who’s ever applied for a job has faced rejection in one way or another. In fact, those of you with a job have heard ‘no’ many more times than ‘yes’.

If you’re a recent graduate or still working on getting that degree and are about to embark upon your search for the perfect job, you don’t yet posses the resilience or thick skin required to help you move on and keep confident in your job search. Here’s some actionable advice that can keep you sane:

1) Know the odds

Most of the rejection comes before the interview process. Before you despair, know that it’s not untypical to have sent out over 100 CVs before getting a callback. Different reports show that each corporate job opening receives anywhere from 100 to 250 applications. These days large companies use software to filter out CVs in cloud based systems, and it presents around 25% of the bunch. Out of all of those, up to ten will be selected for an interview.

Don’t panic, though. You should know that job hunting is more of a numbers game than it would initially seem. If you didn’t get a callback yet, just remember: job hunting is a separate skill in and of itself, not everyone is good at it. It is in no way a reflection on you as a professional.

2) Don’t fall in love

This may sound weird but If you’ve gotten the chance to apply for a job at the company you were dreaming about, try not to get your hopes up. Same with the other jobs that you’ve found that seem like a perfect fit for you. Once you start imagining how you’ll fit in their office before you even go for the initial interview, you know you’re in trouble. Falling in love with a job you haven’t even been interviewed for is a sure way to be let down. Don’t get too excited even after you’ve gone through the interview process and are awaiting an offer. Keeping a cool head about this will do you well, especially when you get to the stage where you negotiate your salary.

3) Ask for feedback

If you went to the interview, but got rejected, instead of feeling discouraged, treat it as an opportunity to better yourself as a candidate. If you received a letter from the recruiter saying ‘thanks for your time…’, feel free to reply with questions about your candidacy. Start by thanking them for considering your candidacy. Then, ask for feedback. It’s important not to come off as whiny, entitled or combative, so phrase your question well. Generally, you won’t get a reply, since providing feedback puts the recruiter in an awkward position, ethically and legally. But sometimes you’ll get good advice that you can use.

Besides asking for feedback, Margaret Ndunge, a human resource officer at Recours Four Kenya, advises to send a ‘thanks for the rejection’ note:

“Thank them for the opportunity to learn more about them and the organization. Ask them to keep you in mind for the “next time” they have a job opening and to stay in touch. […] If the person who accepted the offer ends up going instead to another employer or they don’t work out, the next person on the “almost-but-not-quite” list may get an offer. You may be at the top of that list if you sent a good follow-up to the rejection letter.”

4) You don’t get the job, the job gets you.

It’s easy to get discouraged after sending out dozens of applications and receiving silence in return time and time again. Instead of thinking about job hunting in terms of how attractive you are to a potential employee, think of it in terms of how attractive a potential employer is to you. You are the one with something they want, not the other way around. You’re the person with the  expertise they need, and the job hunt is your process of looking whom to sell your time and knowledge to. Flip the script, and every ‘rejection’ you get is just an indicator that your time is best spent somewhere else.

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