Handling Rejection from Employers
It’s never fun to get a rejection letter, but it’s a common part of job hunting. At some point, a potential employer is guaranteed to say no to you.
Here’s a brief guide to what these “NO's” can look like and, crucially, how to avoid becoming discouraged by them.
In this author's experience, there are three key rejection types you will encounter during the job search process. Each form of rejection looks a little bit different, but the best way to react is always the same: pat yourself on the back, learn what you can and keep trying.
WHY AM I HEARING NOTHING? This style of rejection is as frustrating as it is common. After going through all the effort to put your resume together, write a cover letter for the position and answer questions the employer asks, you just never hear a yes or a no from them.
It’s easy to think that in this scenario, the employer must want to be deliberately rude, but the reality tends to be different. Just like how applicants use limited time and energy to apply for positions, employers use up a lot of their resources to advertise the jobs they’re offering.
This author has only actively asked once for an answer from a potential boss (and I was really confident that I had the job). Otherwise, it’s best to assume that if an employer hasn’t told you that your application is going further, it’s time for you to move on to applying for a different job.
2. Instant Rejection
DID THEY EVEN READ MY APPLICATION?
It doesn’t feel much better than ghosting, but at least with this form of rejection, your application and the effort that went into it are being acknowledged.
These days, it’s usual to receive this type of rejection in an email. It will thank you for applying yet feel impersonal, and perhaps include a few common lines to "give reasons" for why you weren't selected, like:
We had so many applications to review
The caliber of candidates were very high
Others had more relevant experience and qualifications
Others were better suited to the position
No matter which line is used, often these have nothing to do with your application and experience -- and the employer simply has a blanket email written this way which they send out to everyone they reject. This is probably why it hurts so much.
Nonetheless, if you get this rejection, just remind yourself that you do have great skills to offer, and try again with a new application to a new position when you’re ready.
3. Rejection After Interview
BUT I PUT IN SO MUCH WORK!
This form of rejection is definitely more painful than the previous two. After all, more time, energy and anxiety go into interviews, which boosts the disappointment felt when you find out you haven’t got the results you wanted.
However this rejection reaches you, be aware that the employer (or their representative) is not likely to give specific reasons for the rejection. Sucks, huh?
The key thing to remember is that, even though it doesn’t feel like it after all the hard work you’ve done to get this far, it’s nothing personal – the employer has just found a candidate that better fitted their needs.
Job rejections are not personal. It's business.
When you feel discouraged about an employer’s rejection...
Remind yourself that by saying no to what you have to offer, they are the ones who have made a loss, not you. Eventually, your future boss will find that you are 'just the person' they need, and you in turn will find yourself in a position that suits you.
Meanwhile, the next time you’re disappointed after being turned down, take time out for some acts of kindness to yourself. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but each cycle of applications, interviews, and rejection, is an achievement.
You tried. And that matters.
Congratulate yourself on what you have achieved, even if this particular cycle wasn’t successful.
Putting yourself out there on the job market is hard; like with any skill, every time you do it you’ll learn a little bit more and get better at it.