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Moving on from job rejection

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

23 July 2020

Rejection after investing so much energy into an application for work/study/promotion hurts. A lot. This blog explores strategies for staying resilient in the face of rejection, so that you keep moving forward to achieve your career goals.

Reframe your thinking

Let’s start with the bad news: being informed your application was unsuccessful is going to happen to you at least once – probably many times – during your career.  An important step in processing this news is recognising that the employer’s decision is not a personal insult to you. They chose the candidate they felt was the best match for the role/team/strategic priorities at that particular time. It’s a business decision, not one based on malice. Focus on the fact that your application was so good they had to invite you for interview. This interview was practice for the dream job you WILL secure in the future.

Rejection = learning opportunity

If you fully expected to get the job, it’s important to understand why you didn’t. Requesting feedback is crucial, so don’t be shy about asking for it. Then really listen to their comments with an open mind and consider adjustments to your application or interview strategies that will increase your chances of securing a similar role next time. Remember, rejection isn’t feedback – so get feedback.

Neon wall sign reading 'People fail forward to success'

Why does it hurt so much?

Don’t take rejection as a sign you should abandon your career goals; instead take time to reflect on why this job was so important to you. Understanding why this role meant so much can help you to revise your career goals so that you have an even stronger purpose and direction in your job search. Research the role further and ask your network contacts for advice about how to break into it. Now that you know what you’re really looking for, you’re better equipped to go out and find it.

Remind yourself how employable you are

It is hard to stay motivated and confident when rejections arrive. So, take time to remind yourself of how skilled you are, and how much you have achieved in your career story so far. One way to do that is to spend time revising your CV. Analyse the job information for the role you loved, to identify new keywords to add to your job search alerts. Then update your CV and LinkedIn to project these skills/values more clearly to potential employers. CV writing is not a chore to avoid, it’s actually a great confidence-boosting exercise to help you remember how employable you are.

Rejection = Positive Action

So, let’s end with the good news: although it hurts, job rejection can be a positive event in our career journey as it can be a catalyst for positive action that spurs you on to achieve your career goals. So next time this happens to you, I hope you will follow these steps and grow stronger and more confident as a result. Career resilience is about moving forward past the setbacks, not letting them define us. And remember, you don’t have to deal with these challenges alone; as a student at ARU your Employability and Careers Team is here to listen and talk it all through.

By Khrieu Healy, Employability & Careers Adviser


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.