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5 minute read

How to Overcome the Devastating Impact of a Job Application Rejection

If you’ve sent out countless applications and follow-ups but are still not receiving positive responses, don’t let that dampen your fire.

Sad Office Worker with head on table

It is never easy to receive rejection after rejection from companies that you have applied to. Instead of wallowing in your emotions, leverage them as a motivator to keep learning new things about yourself. Use the downtime as an opportunity for some introspection, to assess your value and the kind of problems you can help to solve for the companies you intend to apply to. You can even take this time to sharpen your communication skills to get your point across in the best way possible.

Persistence is key in finding a job

In some cases, it might not be the right time for the company to hire someone, or there might be a lack of resources to take in new staff. Companies that have an attractive brand may also receive thousands of applications for just one role. Hiring managers will be swamped with hundreds of job application emails and yours might be left with no response.

Let your persistence be the driving force in your job search. Upon getting a rejection, remain persistent and strive to understand what fuelled the rejection, and figure out the best solution to work through that obstacle. Be patient and use all resources at your disposal in your job search, and your efforts will pay off in the end.

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Don’t take things personally and learn from your experiences

It is crucial to remind yourself not to take the rejection personally. At the end of the day, it is just business. Once you figure out the best way to detach yourself emotionally from the job rejection, it gets easier for you to overcome feelings of devaluation. A rejection does not always imply that you were not qualified for that particular position. If you were really interested in the role, take it a step further and ask your job interviewer why you were rejected, so you know what you have to work on.

Don’t be afraid to fight for what you want. Potential employers can spot persistence from a mile away. The ability to remain steadfast when faced with adversity is a sign of a great employee. Don’t hesitate to send an email response, or even a text message, to ask why you were rejected and if there are other more appropriate jobs within the company that you can apply to instead. You can also get the interviewer’s advice on what you did well during the interview and their opinion on areas you could improve in.

Keep calm and carry on

Even in the face of rejection, you’ll need to remain graceful and respectful. You do not want to burn any bridges, especially since there is a chance that you may cross paths with the company in the future. It is an important social etiquette to abide by and would be beneficial in other parts of your personal life as well.

As companies could be swamped with job applications, you should be more mindful about giving them more time to respond to you, as well as respect their time and wait a little bit longer to follow up with them. Even if the process ends up in an application rejection, you should be responding graciously and at the very least, let the employer know that you will be keen to work with them in the future if an opportunity ever arises.  

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Identify your skills gap

Rather than focussing on the job rejection, recognise that you’re doing well given such extraordinary circumstances. Use the hiring manager’s feedback to analyse your skill gaps and understand why you were not fit for the role. There are many assessment tools available online, such as PymetricsWebMentor Skills, and KnowledgeSmart, to understand your skillset from a third-person perspective. They use behavioural and critical skills assessments to identify jobseekers’ unique capabilities and weaknesses.

You can also use this time to re-evaluate your priorities, such as the types of careers, organisational culture and management styles that allow you to realise your true potential in a working environment.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to reset your career goals:

  • What job roles sounded interesting when I was younger but never pursued?
  • Who are the employers that I’ve always wanted to work for?
  • Do I perform better at work when I have more autonomy or does having a structured process work better?
  • What in-demand skills are in trend with my career?

Upskill and reskill to increase your hiring attractiveness

Once you are aware of what you need to work on, you can consider signing up for professional training courses or reskilling programmes. You can also consider engaging a career coach to help you figure out which of your skills are transferable and target your applications to organisations that could use those skills.

As the saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”. If you want different results, you must be willing to try different approaches. When you take these extra steps in your job search, you are showing prospective employers that you are willing to invest in yourself, rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

If you are currently employed, consider taking on a project to help bulk up your resume. If finding a job is proving to be difficult, take some time off to upskill and reskill yourself or be open to a contract role for on-the-job training.

Being willing to try new things and investing in yourself gives you a better chance of securing a job. Remember that no matter how qualified you are, nobody gets a job on their first try. It’s all about perseverance, adapting to the prevailing job market, and most importantly, keeping your chin up!

This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.

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