Bouncing Back from Rejection

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Nurhuda Syed
Editor, gradsingapore
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Nobody likes being turned down from a promising job offer. Flip this negative into a positive and make it worth your while.

Here’s the truth: not getting that job you’ve pined and prepared so thoroughly for doesn’t make you a failure. You've put in the 110 percent for your grades, somehow made time for an internship or two, and ensured that you did everything perfectly right up to the job interview. 

Getting a rejection mailer might make you question everything – your efforts, capabilities, and your unpredictable future.

Allow yourself to go through the grief, briefly. But once you’ve cleared your mind of any self-defeating scenarios, take the time to re-attune your focus towards achieving your goal of securing gainful employment.

Bank on your rejection and work on ways to improve your odds for upcoming applications.

Don’t let the words, “we regret to inform you”, define you as a person. Get through the different stages of rejection and watch as it strengthens your character and enhances your approach to the application process.

With experience, you’ll understand that job-hunting is unlike the passes and fails that defined your academic career.

There’s no clear-cut way of determining the real reason behind your results, and the only person keeping count of the number of rejections is you.

Be patient, humble, and trudge on – in time you’ll get matched with the right job and find yourself safely established in a career you enjoy.

Dealing with rejection

The most important rule about dealing with rejection is: don’t take it personally. Respond professionally and prevent yourself from overthinking the reason to your unsuccessful application.

Understand that sometimes the odds are just not in your favour – there may have been an overwhelming number of equally excellent candidates applying for the same position. Keep confident of your abilities and know that you’ve got plenty to offer. All in good time.

Ask for feedback

When in doubt, ask. You got through several rounds of interviews and various assessment tests, and yet you still came out short. Ask the interviewer for feedback and decide how best to tweak your next application.

Was there a better qualified candidate? Look for opportunities to gain relevant work experience.

The information you receive may seem vague at times – “we decided to go with another direction” – but ask anyway as you never know when you’ll get something constructive.

However, don’t be overly persistent if recruiters take a while to respond or don’t get back to you at all.

Trust the system

The process of job-hunting isn’t as straightforward as you might think, so dwelling on something that isn’t within your control will only do you more harm than good.

Instead, count every rejection as a learning experience and let it hone your hunting skills. 

Remember to respect the recruiter’s decision, as it is possible that you were not a good match for the role on offer.

Paper qualifications and excellent interviewing skills are not enough to secure a position with an organisation. It is up to the recruiter’s discretion to ascertain if you’re the best possible fit for the company.

So be humble and take this as an opportunity to do a realistic self-analysis on the type of role and work environment you’d be most suitable for.

Once you’ve gained perspective on the recruitment process and some self-awareness on what you can offer the organisation, you’d be able to better market yourself to recruiters at the next interview session.

With a bit of patience, you may possibly end up with the right role for your skills-set and personality.

Moving forward

Once you’ve fully come to terms with your first rejection, work on getting back in the game. At this point, you should be armed with a stronger CV, be more adept at handling interviews, and have a more realistic expectation of the process.

Don’t give up on other applications. Resilience throughout the job-hunting process is necessary, as it is common for an applicant to receive several rejections before securing a job offer.

There is no fixed rate of success or any shortcuts to be had. You might get accepted for a job at the first few tries, or find yourself sending out hundreds of applications before finally getting a foot in the door.

Have faith that your tenacity will pay off in the long run.

Also, keep in mind that it is more than likely that your friends are going through the same experience – sharing your feelings may help diffuse your frustrations. Don’t be discouraged if your peers get jobs before you do.

Focus your energy on improving your situation instead. 

If you’re in need of guidance, don’t be shy to seek the counsel of your school’s career advisors. Their pool of resources and expertise may help you move in the right direction.