If you have spent ages working on an application, it can be really demoralising to get a brief email saying you have been unsuccessful (or, even worse, not to get any response at all). And if you have got past the first stage, to an interview or assessment centre, and then get rejected, you might feel your hopes have been raised for nothing – especially if it keeps happening. So how can you turn the disappointment into positive action? Here are a few ideas.
- Try to find out if there was a specific reason for your rejection
You can contact the employer to find out if there was a particular reason for your rejection – but do this politely and professionally, and don’t hassle them! If you get some constructive feedback (e.g. “You didn’t have as much relevant experience as other candidates”) then at least you know what you need to do to improve. Bear in mind that employers are not obliged to give you feedback, and you are less likely to get any feedback if you are rejected in the early stages of application, because the employer won’t have time to give feedback to large numbers of unsuccessful applicants. Remember – if you do contact an employer for feedback, also thank them for having considered you, and perhaps say how disappointed you were not to get the job; making a good impression is always a positive thing, and you don’t know when they might be looking to fill another vacancy.
- Reflect on the experience
Whether or not you can get feedback, spend some time reflecting honestly on your performance. You might find this easier to do with someone else – you could book a careers appointment to discuss it with a careers adviser. Look over your application or CV again, alongside the job description – is there anything you could have done to improve it? If you went for an interview or assessment centre, spend some time thinking about your responses and whether you could have made them stronger. Make sure you learn from the experience, ready for next time.
- Take positive action
If you know the reason for your rejection, or if you have an idea that you might need to improve your performance in a particular area, then plan to take positive action to avoid the same mistakes next time. Depending on the stage at which you were rejected, this could include:
- Getting help with your CV, covering letter, or application forms.
- Finding out about how to prepare for psychometric tests, assessment centres, presentations etc., and perhaps arranging to do some practice.
- Getting advice about interview technique and booking a mock interview to get feedback.
- Arranging to get additional experience or training to fill any gaps on your CV.
- Make sure you are applying for the right jobs
Often people find they are being rejected because they are applying for jobs which don’t match their skills, experience and strengths. This can particularly be true if you are sending the same CV off for every application, without really considering what the job is and whether the company is somewhere you want to work. It is a good idea to stop and take stock, think about what you are looking for in a job and an employer, and then target opportunities that are a good match. You are likely to be able to make a much stronger and more persuasive application this way, and by spending a bit of time targeting your application to the specific vacancy, you should have a greater chance of success.
- Try not to lose heart
If you are getting a lot of rejections, it can be hard to stay positive, but try to remember that each one can be a learning experience, so make sure you address any development issues. Don’t forget, the vast majority of people will get rejected from jobs throughout their career. Try to view it as a way to build on your resilience and determination.
If you need any advice about job applications, have a look at the information and resources on the Careers website, and make an appointment to come in and see an adviser. We are open all through summer and will be available to help out as long as you need us, even after you have left the university.
By Emily Peach, Careers Adviser