Looking for a job isn’t easy. It can be a long hard process. You work hard to craft a great CV, you prepare diligently for every interview. So when that rejection comes, pain and heartbreak come with it.

No one likes being rejected, especially when you want to improve your career. This can drastically affect your mood and your mental health. Not an ideal situation.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the time the company never got back to you, or if they sent out just a generic rejection email, it still hurts all the same.

However, having the resilience and strength to overcome these rejections and move forward plays an intrinsic part in your success. In fact, rejection plays a huge part in the job-hunting process.

If you’re reading this, I’m going to make the assumption you have just been rejected for a job or are trying to prepare yourself for rejection. These steps will help keep you in a better state of mind and keep your job search productive so that you are closer to that all important “You’ve got the job”.

It’s Never Personal

This is the hardest part of the process. That initial gut reaction is thinking you’re a failure. It can feel personal. Don’t worry though, it’s a perfectly natural feeling. Our brains are hardwired to pay more attention to negative events than positive ones.

This is called “negativity bias” and is exactly why we feel so disheartened when we are rejected. Understanding this is the first step to overcoming that first feeling and moving forward.

However, you have to realise that it isn’t personal. The rejection could be because of a number of reasons. The most common reason for rejection is that they have found someone with more experience and qualifications.

In this scenario it’s not that you were bad or not worthy, but that someone else was more. This isn’t a reflection on your skills and abilities but on theirs.

This may frustrate you to hear, but in knowing this fact, you can work on bettering your skills and your interview technique.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow but you’re not going to land every job you apply for. No one does! Learning to accept rejection as part of the process will help build your resilience and give you more time to focus on getting to that job offer.

Knowing it’s not personal doesn’t mean you should ignore the personal touch. Don’t forget to thank the company/recruiter/hiring manager.

I know this seems counter-intuitive but thanking them for their time and consideration will help you move on from the role so that you can mentally close that chapter and move on to the next.

Rejection Isn’t Feedback, So Ask For Some

If you have put in a lot of time and effort in tailoring and writing your CV, then a long time preparing for your interview, rejection can hurt a lot. However, this isn’t a reflection of you.

That being said, taking the time to ask for feedback on how you could improve to change that “No” to a “Yes” will give you more information to better prepare you for further applications.

Even if they don’t provide feedback, do a self-analysis. This after action report that you create should look into what went wrong AND what went right. You need to understand where your strengths lie just as much as your weaknesses.

That way you can improve on the weaker points and reinforce your strengths. Don’t view your weaknesses as bad though, view them as opportunities to improve and look at them in a positive way to help achieve those improvements.

Remember to assess yourself honestly and objectively – don’t be overly critical or self-deprecating as that won’t help you. The purpose of this is to find positives and room for improvement.

Remember that rejection breeds resilience, which is a key quality that many employers look for. This resilience relies on you maintaining a positive outlook by flipping negatives into opportunities.

However, if you have received a few rejections in a row then you should look reviewing you entire job search process fully. Understanding that it’s not personal means taking as much of an objective look as you can.

Are you formatting your CV correctly? Is it tailored specifically for that role? Did you exemplify your strengths in the interview? Or did you go overboard with it?

This self-reflection needs to be honest and you need to act on it to improve your chances of finding work.

Stay Productive

There’s a strange state of limbo that happens between every milestone in the job application process. When you submit a CV, you have to wait for a response. When you have finished an interview, you have to wait for an answer. It’s during these periods that negativity and doubt can creep in.

The recruitment process takes time, so radio silence from your application or from your interviewer doesn’t necessarily mean bad news.

The best way to combat against the negativity, doubt and stress is by staying positively productive. After you’ve done your quick review/feedback session, move on by continuing with your job search.

By focusing on what you can control (ie. writing up your next CV or planning your next interview) you will be less preoccupied with what is out of your control. This will have a positive effect on your mental health as you know you are consistently improving and that you are making sure you are one step closer to that all important job offer.

It’s never a good idea to put all your hopes into one hypothetical basket, so keep your options open and varied.

The worst case scenario from all of this? If you get multiple job offers you have the power to choose which one suits you best, negotiate better salaries and more. Not a bad result for staying positive and focused.


There’s a common phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Whilst this phrase may be a cliché, there is quite a lot of truth to it. The power of networking and referrals can’t be understated.

Building a network of people will help you overcome rejection by allowing you more avenues to find work. With people giving you personal recommendations to their employers or those they know, you are not only stacking the odds in your favour but are less likely to be rejected overall.

Even if you are rejected you will then have others to talk to about it. You can talk to people with experience on how to break into the industry. You can talk to people on how to best get that promotion.

Build Your Skills

If you’re going for a bigger job, a promotion or an entirely different career, then one of the best ways to get over rejection is to build your skills.

Every job has specific skills that they are after, so by building and improving on these in your own time you can reduce the chances of rejection in the future.

This is also something you can focus on in those moments in between the CV and interview and after the interview.

Dealing with rejection

As we said earlier, it’s a fact that you’re not going to land every job you apply for. No one does! Coming to grips with this fact and learning to accept rejection as part of the process will help build your resilience and your positivity.

Dealing with rejection take lots of forms. It can be tough when you get turned down for that job you really wanted. However, by following these steps you are not only going to cope with the highs and lows of the job hunting process but you will also be stacking the odds in your favour.

Keeping a positive mindset can feel challenging at times but the benefits for your mental health are plentiful. With every rejection you are going to be one step closer to being accepted to keep going and focus on what you can control.

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