How to Handle Job Search Rejection

Tips and Advice for Dealing with Rejection When You're Job Hunting

Candidate being interviewed
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Getting told that you have been turned down for a job is never a pleasant experience, even if you weren't sure that you wanted the job. It can be especially difficult when it happens over and over again. However, there are steps you can take to handle the rejection.

Coping with not getting a job offer can be broken down into three parts: getting over the rejection, analysis of your candidacy, and moving forward with your job search.

Dealing With Rejection

The first step in getting over rejection by a potential employer entails sharing the frustration, disappointment, and anger that accompanies any loss. Talk to a friend or family member and share your feelings in a confidential setting. Today, we call it "venting," and venting can be a very useful tool.

Despite any urges you might have, don't say anything negative to the employer because you may want to apply to the organization again in the future. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly why a candidate was rejected and it could be you were too qualified. If that's the case, the employer may come back at a later date with a better job offer.

Recognize that most searches are quite competitive, and many talented candidates are often rejected due to a tight job market. It is quite likely that the employer is not actually rejecting you, but rather saw another candidate as a (maybe even slightly) better fit. Because hiring decisions are typically subjective, it is entirely possible that another recruiter might have chosen you.

Also, keep in mind that maybe the hiring manager was right, and this job wasn't the best fit for you and you wouldn't have worked out. In that case, the company did you a favor by not hiring you.

What Could You Have Done Differently?

Take the time to reflect on your approach to the hiring process to see if there is anything you could improve upon in the future. Take a step backward and review your resume, cover letter, what transpired during the interview, and your follow-up activity. Given what you learned about the job requirements and people involved, ask yourself if you could have done something differently in order to present yourself in a better light and one that made you seem like a better fit for the job.

Though not typical, sometimes an employer will share feedback about your candidacy. If that's not the case, and you developed a rapport with anyone at the organization, try approaching them with a request for constructive criticism.

Keep Your Job Search Moving Forward

Candidates often lose momentum with their search while waiting to hear if they landed a job, especially if they think they nailed the job interview. Don't fall into that trap. It's never a good idea to stop looking until you have been offered, and accepted a job offer.

Until you have something in writing, continue with your search. Finding other options, and receiving positive responses from interviewers, will soften the blow if you are rejected. Staying in the job market, including networking meetings, will also boost your confidence while looking for a job.