How to Reapply for a Job When You Have Been Rejected

Man stamping a job application, "application rejected."

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Should you reapply for a job if you were rejected the first time around and you see that the position is still posted or has been relisted? It depends, but in general, the worst that can happen is that you get rejected again. Best-case scenario, you may have a better chance of getting accepted the second time around.

When to Reapply After Being Rejected

Applicants often wonder if it is advisable to reapply for a job that they have already applied for in the past.

The short answer is that if you find the position to be very attractive, there is usually nothing to lose other than your time. Your chances of receiving serious consideration the second time around will be greater if considerable time has passed and/or if you have enhanced your credentials in some way. Typically, it doesn't make sense to reapply until at least four months have passed since your initial application.

If you made the interview stage previously and were a finalist or received positive feedback, then you may be a strong enough candidate to receive an offer this time since there might be a less competitive pool.

Another reason to consider reapplying if time has passed is that the staff responsible for screening resumes may have changed, and the new screener(s) may have a different take on the viability of your credentials. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes. The applicant pool may have changed since you first applied. The employer might have refined their profile for the perfect candidate. For a variety of reasons, you may have a better chance of getting selected this time.

It’s also possible that you don’t even know for sure that you were rejected, just that you weren’t selected. Many employers don't bother sending rejection letters. In that case, don’t assume that your application was actively rejected. It’s possible that your resume and cover letter failed to make it through the applicant tracking system. In that case, the problem isn’t with your candidature, but rather with your application materials – an easier fix than acquiring a new certification or adding years of experience.

Target Your Resume and Letters

Most large, and many smaller, employers use applicant tracking systems) (ATS) to screen applicants. These software programs manage the recruiting process automatically, receiving and sorting resumes and helping hiring managers and HR representatives search them.

The advantage from the employer’s perspective is clear: an ATS saves time that they would otherwise have to invest in having humans comb through piles of resumes. However, it can be a real problem for a job seeker if they don’t know how to write their resumes for both humans and robots. If you keep applying to jobs online and never hear anything from a real, live person, you might be getting caught in the ATS net. It can happen even if you’re fully qualified. It all comes down to using the right resume keywords.

Keywords describe the requirements for a particular job, including skills, certifications, educational qualifications, and other qualities that a hiring manager is targeting. Take the time to target your resume and your cover letter, including keywords that match the job posting, and you will have a better chance of getting your application considered for the job. Don’t be afraid to mention skills that seem obvious to you – for example, if the job listing specifies that the candidate should be familiar with Microsoft Office, you should include that, or risk getting filtered out of contention.

Also, be sure to highlight in your cover letter any additional experiences, awards, accomplishments, or training which you have amassed since your last application.

What to Write in Your Cover Letter

Typically, you would refer to your prior application in your cover letter if you have previously interviewed for the position. You can mention why you were convinced that the employer and the job were an excellent fit as a result of that exposure and that you would appreciate the employer's consideration for the position.

If you didn't receive a rejection letter or weren't interviewed and considerable time has passed, you don't need to reference your previous application in your letter.