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How to bounce back after a job rejection

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Mon Aug 21 2017


Job rejections are a natural part of that experience, and as a young person, it’s important to know that you probably won’t get a job immediately after completing your degree or certification. Some students may even have a hard time getting a part-time or casual job during university!

But what’s important to know is that job rejections can actually be a good thing if you allow them to be. Part of being an adult means learning to accept that mistakes and setbacks will happen in your life. Sure, you may feel the sting of rejection and become gradually frustrated and even annoyed that employers aren’t taking you on, but it is a situation that you can still fix yourself. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, as the old saying goes, and any time you might experience a rejection, it simply means having an additional opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow.

Take Alibaba founder and entrepreneur Jack Ma, for example. Despite being rejected nearly 30 times from a variety of jobs and roles, Ma used those experiences to bounce back. He fell down 30 times and he picked himself back up for a 31st time and it was on that go that he found the will to become the well-respected businessman he is today.

Cooler heads will inevitable prevail if you begin to accept failure and use that as positive momentum to continue in the hunt for a job.

So what happens now, if you’ve experienced your first job rejection? Don’t get too emotional over it and consider the reasons why an employer might not hire you, and how you can improve your situation.

They needed someone more skilled or experienced…

Employers value applicants who are experienced and come with a whole set of skills necessary to fulfil the role. And if you’ve been passed over for someone else, it may just be because there’s one thing you don’t have that someone else does.

When you come across this kind of situation, perhaps re-assess what areas you may be lacking in and work to improve on them. Revise the criteria selection for a job you’ve just interviewed for and see if there is anything that you can do immediately to ensure that you’re well-equipped for the role. You can even ask potential employers if there are areas that you need to improve on if you feel that they may turn you down during the interview. And if you don’t have enough experience, volunteer your time to organisations that might benefit from your expertise and skills.

There are always avenues for you to gain new skills, accrue further experience make yourself more desirable for employers in the future — you just have to look out for them and ask employers what they need and how you can contribute.

What they saw didn’t quite reflect what the CV said…

No one will argue that skills and experience are essential to deciding if you get the job or not but a lot of times, the decision to hire an individual can also be made based off his or her interpersonal skills. Perhaps your employer or interviewer sensed that you lacked confidence or did not communicate your thoughts and ideas as intelligibly as they would have liked. Perhaps what they saw on the resume didn’t quite fit what they saw in person. In any case, what you’ll want to do is to persevere.

Don’t be shy and list your achievements as confidently as you can. You know who you are and you know what you’re about so show employers your desire and determination to get the job.

If you want to improve on your communication and confidence, take up some short classes to help you refine those skills. Just remember to calm your nerves and be unafraid in showing who you are and your ambitions to employers. Use your confidence and charm to convince interviewees and employers that you’re the one they’ve been looking for.

They probably felt you didn’t understand the role or what their business represented…

Another common mistake many people make is that before they decide to apply for a job, they do not spend enough time to work out what qualities and expectations employers will have of applicants for a particular job.

Applicants might not spend enough time researching for the role or researching the business that they’re applying for. And depending on what applicants are asked in the interview, answers provided might signal to employers that, despite your best intentions and the skills and experience you come with, you might not have a clear understanding as to what employers need from you. They may feel that your lack of knowledge about what they do or represent will impact on the kind of work you produce.

That obviously isn’t the culture they want to reinforce so before you apply for a job, understand what kind of job you’re getting yourself into and learn more about your employers. Impress them with your knowledge about who they are.

Alternatively, ask them questions during the interview so you can get a better idea of how to integrate yourself into their work culture. The only way you can get better is by asking, so do it!

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via