This article was originally published by Zonotho on 22 July 2020 and later republished on Careers24 on 18 August 2022.
“But I did so well in the interview. I would’ve been great at the job.” This is what many of us feel after being rejected for a job application. Perhaps you felt it was unfair and that you deserve the post. After all, you’ve worked so hard.
These days: I am on the other side. Instead of being a graduate getting rejected (literally) 100 times, I am the HR person rejecting 100 candidates. Before then, I was the person who cried the first time I got rejected, OK maybe the second time too… and maybe sometimes after that. I understand what it feels like to put your best foot forward and then be told that they found someone else. So how do you overcome rejection?
Acknowledge the Context but Seek Feedback
First, acknowledge the context you’re in. The job market is very difficult to enter. It’s hard for everyone, but especially for graduates, and more so during COVID-19. And take it from someone on the inside, there are hundreds of other people like you. It doesn’t help to obsess about why you got rejected. There could be many reasons and it may be as simple as too many applicants applying for the job.
Trying to figure out what went wrong will drive you insane! Instead of guessing, request for feedback with a polite email or call. You could tell them that as part of your development, you’d like to understand what exactly they were looking for and how you can improve. It shows that you’re eager to learn, and who knows, if you’ve made a good impression, they’ll remember you for future positions.
Have More Applications in the Pipeline
It’s only human to pin all your hopes on the job you’re applying for. You already imagine telling your boss “I quit!” and typing up your farewell speech. While it’s healthy to plan in advance, if you don’t get the job, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak.
So, even if your current application process is going well, continue to apply for other jobs. Having other applications in the pipeline softens the blow of being rejected if the first application falls through. Applying for more jobs also gives you a better feel of what’s out there. And, you’ll come across companies or jobs you didn’t know existed. It broadens your search and also provides more opportunities.
Deal with Dignity
Rejection is hard, but how you deal with it is very important. Imagine calling a candidate to reject them and then being yelled at: “Any company would be lucky to have me. I’m way more qualified than you anyway.” (This is not a joke. It actually happens to my colleagues). I’m not sure what the logic was there (or if any logic was used) but take it from someone in HR: hurling insults at a recruiter is generally not an effective job search strategy.
You also get those candidates who claim that they weren’t really interested in the job. If you weren’t interested, why did you apply? It’s like being rejected by a girl you asked out and then saying, “she wasn’t that pretty anyway”. She was that pretty. You’re just being a sore loser.
You don’t want to jeopardise your future prospects through the way you act when you get rejected. The world is interconnected, and you could easily bump into these people again in the future. I’m constantly surprised at how I keep running into people from school, varsity, or previous jobs. So even if you don’t get the job, deal with rejection in a dignified way.
Rejection is a difficult pill to swallow, but it shouldn’t be taken personally, especially for matters outside of your control. So instead of wondering “Why didn’t I get the job?” focus on the factors you can control. Make sure that you’re presenting yourself well and asking for feedback where you can. This will help you bounce back stronger for future job applications.