’Thank you for your application. Unfortunately…’
They're the words all job seekers dread, and if they're wearily familiar, you're not alone. The job market is engorged and job rejection is commonplace.
Upsetting, demoralising and just downright frustrating, being discarded from the applicant pack is tough to take. But from the ashes of one prospective career path, others can sprout ‒ if you know how to best to deal with the regrettable news.
Read on for our top tips on how to best absorb the job-rejection blow and push on with the hunt for your dream position.
It's very easy to take a job knock back personally, but being bitter and harbouring a grudge against the employer will do you no favours. So accept the situation, hit the reply button and thank them for the opportunity.
Why be gracious to those who've closed the door on you? Firstly, that door may not have been slammed and barred shut ‒ if you've come a close second to a candidate who then turns the offer down, your calm head and kind words in the face of rejection might just land you the job as the first reserve.
Secondly, small-world scenarios touch even the broadest industries, and you might find yourself sitting opposite the same people in another interview further down the line. Your prior dignity will have you held in high esteem.
Ask for feedback
Employers have no real obligation to offer unsuccessful candidates feedback on their performance, but that shouldn't prevent you from politely asking. This is an especially wise move if you felt your application was strong and can't identify what might've swung the decision.
If you're going for similar roles in the future, any constructive criticism could be invaluable.
Jot down your own thoughts
Whether you get feedback or not, now is a good time to make your own notes on the selection process. Everything can be a learning experience, and you'll be able to use these notes to prepare for your next interviews.
What do I feel went well? Were there any obvious shortcomings in my performance? What about my response to that common interview question ‒ does it need to be honed? And so on.
Getting these out of your head and onto paper in a timely fashion will aid their accuracy, making them all the more useful when applying in the future.
Enquire about temporary roles
So you didn't land a particular position, that doesn't mean there's no future at all with the company.
Industries of all varieties take on temporary staff. 'Temps', 'locums', 'freelancers' ‒ the label differs, but they have one thing in common: people the organisation can trust to fulfil a given role, often at short notice.
Don't feel it's impertinent to enquire about such roles if you've missed out on a permanent position, particularly if you impressed in the selection process. Perform well here and build your network within the company and you could find yourself in a contracted post sooner than expected.
Upskill for the future
There's no place for defeatism in the job-search game ‒ but at times you've got to be realistic.
Was the interview an utter ordeal? Or maybe your weak application didn't even get you that far in the first place? These are the sort of hard-headed questions you have to ask yourself, particularly if you've come up short for a number of similar positions.
If your application memories feel more like nightmares, it's time to acknowledge the need for a spot of upskilling. Free and low-cost online courses, such as ones found on edX and Coursera, are ideal for this.
Volunteer work is also a good option if you require more experience in a particular area ‒ and can have the added benefit of widening your professional network!
Take another look at your CV
Competitive as the job market is, the difference between offering Applicant A an interview over Applicant B can be as simple as who's got the better CV.
Maybe employment gaps were poorly accounted for, or some solid experience wasn't allowed to sing. Perhaps your experience was even better than the other hopeful, but poor presentation and formatting resulted in it all falling flat.
CVs aren't easy to get right on your own, so it's worth looking into professional CV-writing services that know how to do the job. A professional's knowledge of what makes a strong, impactful CV may be all you need to finally get into the interview room so you can shine.
The job hunt: It's a tough old game, and one you can't win every time. But don't let your chin drop in the face of rejection. Instead, focus on the positives, learn the lessons and take appropriate action. Before you know, it'll be a different set of words lighting up your screen…
'Congratulations, we are happy to offer you … '
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