How to Deal With Job Rejection

How to Deal With Job Rejection

If you’ve read our article ‘Overcoming Fear of Failure‘, you’ll already know that you should try to treat every negative experience as if it’s a positive – every cloud has a silver-lining and all that. But that’s easier said than done – so let’s look at some practical things that can help you to feel more positive when the world of rejected job applications is getting you down.

So, you spent hours researching and writing a customised job application. You put your heart and soul into it and you dropped it into the ether. But then? You heard nothing back. Not one iota. Maybe you did? Maybe you got as far as the interview? You gave up a full afternoon of your time, only to be told that ‘we don’t think it’s right for the company at this time’ or ‘unfortunately we’ve decided not to take your application any further’. Well, guess what? We’ve all been there – and yes, sometimes it hurts. 

It’s not you, it’s them

The first thing to remember is, not to take it personally. Whilst you may be sat there thinking ‘easier said than done’, we’re serious. Companies do this sort of stuff all the time, and it’s happened on multiple occasions to pretty much everyone who ever applied for a job. Yes; even us.

Actually, if you speak to employers, what you find is that it’s hardly ever the candidate who was at fault anyway. It almost always involves nothing more than someone else having slightly more experience at the job, being cheaper, or otherwise trumping you in some small way. That could be annoying, but just remember that they probably had to go through the same process that you did! Although it may feel like it at times, the Universe is not against you personally. 

Which leads us on to

With experience and qualifications in mind, do ask yourself (and be honest) whether you’re applying for the right jobs. If all you’ve got is a few month’s experience in a junior role and have yet to make much of a splash results-wise, then you’re probably unlikely to get an interview as a senior director at a blue-chip multinational.

Every day’s a school day

With apologies for dropping that little axiom, it really is important to try and learn from this as an experience. We’ve all heard the stories about how Albert Einstein didn’t excel in school and how Walt Disney was once told that he lacked creativity, but how do you ever expect to improve if you don’t learn to take the rough with the smooth? It would be like a heavyweight boxer expecting to become world champion without ever getting punched in the face! 

Again, the key here is to be honest with yourself. Maybe give it a few days so that you can look at things more objectively. Mull it over with a friend or family member, or even ask for feedback from the interviewer (although that can be difficult to get). Work out what might have been at fault and address it – we promise that you’ll come out stronger from the experience. 


That’s right – maybe it’s time to go back to school. Don’t worry though; we’re not about to extol the virtues of itchy sweaters or burned rice pudding – in fact, nowadays there are loads of ways that you can get some extra training without ever leaving the couch. 

Sites like Lynda make training in subjects such as business and web design available to people everywhere – or if your career involves something more hands-on, then you could speak to your local further education college, who generally offer vocational training in loads of different areas. Nowadays, there really is no excuse for not knowing how to do something!

Call in a pro

Depending on how you found this article, you may or may not realise that our site is a free directory of UK-based recruitment agencies. If you’re having trouble getting past the interview stage, then speaking to a specialist recruiter would be a great idea. Many offer customised training as part of the service, and given that they spend literally all day getting people into jobs, they are really the best people to speak to! 

Don’t forget to smell the roses

One important thing to bear in mind (and one that you may be surprised to read on a career-based site like ours) is that it’s only a job! Your self-esteem shouldn’t be measured solely in career terms – so have a think about whatever else it is that makes you happy. Spend some time with your friends or family, develop a hobby, get out into nature or down the gym. The list is endless. 

What you shouldn’t do – especially if you’re currently unemployed – is to spend 100% of your spare time job seeking. This will only lead to dejection if you don’t end up finding something straight away – and let’s face it, it’s tough out there right now. Yes, money will probably be an issue for a while, but you aren’t going to solve that problem by burning yourself out sat at a keyboard.

It’s important to note that if you are finding that unemployment or job rejection is getting you down to the point where you’re worried, then you should speak to your GP as soon as possible. Depression is a very real and very dangerous illness, and unemployment is one of its major causes. 

Give something back

Possibly the best way you could spend your time at this point is by volunteering – be it helping out for a charity organisation, youth work, or stewarding at an event. Once again there is a myriad of options available to you. If you’re in the UK, then there’s a useful Government webpage that lists where you can find volunteering opportunities near you.

The benefits of volunteering can be huge. For starters, you’re going to be putting something back into your local community – which as well as being good for the people around you (and from a karmic perspective) is rightly going to make you feel good about yourself. On top of that, volunteer work looks great on your CV even if it’s not directly relevant. Not only will it give you a way to cover this career gap, but you’re probably going to find yourself learning some new transferable skills along the way too.

One of the biggest benefits that can come from volunteering is the people that you’ll meet along the way. As well as just getting the opportunity to make new friends, you’ll find that your professional network will probably grow too. Having a ‘foot in the door’ somewhere is seldom a bad thing, and it’s not unheard of for keen volunteers to find themselves getting snapped up for paid work once they’ve proven themselves. Actually, in certain places of employment (like many galleries and museums), this can be more or less the only way to get a foot on the ladder.