How to avoid feeling dejected after being rejected…

 “Following your recent application, I regret to inform you that on this occasion you have not been successful.” 

Does this sound familiar?  Given that there are 118 applicants on average for every job, of which only 20% make it to the interview stage; it is likely that at some point in your career you will have been the unlucky recipient of such a letter.

While rejection can damage your self esteem, it is important to remember that it is only a temporary state.  Here are some key public figures that were once in your shoes:  Starting out her television career at the tender age of 22, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job and told that she was “unfit for TV”.  Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times before going on to open his own production company.  And Michael Jordan?  Axed from his school basketball team.  So, what separates these three personalities from the average Joe?  The mere matter of perseverance.


Rejection can seem so brutal because it goes against human nature.  Mankind is not equipped to take it on the chin and there’s an evolutionary reason behind this.  If a caveman were rejected by his tribe, his chance of death would be likely.  The desire to avoid rejection is hence an instinctive reaction.  While rejection may not be a matter of life and death in recruitment as in the cavemen times, a lack of perseverance nonetheless wipes out the weedy.  Don’t let yourself be weedy!

This is all well and good, I hear you cry, but it is so hard to persevere when the whole world seems to be against you.  Let’s re-read the opening sentence of the letter in another light: the key aspect to focus on is the phrase: on this occasion.  In your disappointment, it is likely that you glossed over these three little words, but they hide a powerful message.  While you weren’t successful on this occasion, more opportunities will come your way provided you keep searching.  Don’t give up; it’s not called a job hunt for no reason.

Don’t take it to heart

Unless you were in that lucky 20% of candidates invited to interview, the chances are you were rejected on your CV alone.  Without a meeting in person, it’s not you that the company has rejected but your CV.  And your CV can be remodelled and improved, so things are starting to look up!  On the other hand, if you were unsuccessful after an interview, don’t regard the experience as a failure but look at it as practice.  It is important to remember that not every job will be the right fit for your expertise and personality, so don’t take your rejection personally.

Solicit feedback

Now for the juicy stuff.  Many candidates fail to ask for feedback after being rejected for fear of aggravating the company and ruining future prospects.  Furthermore, it’s known that certain companies are reluctant to offer feedback because it may interfere with their legal guidelines.  However, it’s always worth a shot, especially if you approach it in the following manner: disguise your feedback request in a follow-up thank you email, thanking the interviewer for their time before politely asking whether they have any advice for your future job search.  Often, expressing gratitude provides a way through the backdoor.

So, to reiterate: persevere, don’t take it personally and ask for feedback.  Yet perhaps I should just bow down to Winston Churchill who summed it up perfectly:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: