Coping with Rejection

Rejections can be difficult to move on from because they often imply failure, but here are some practical tips to help you get through the difficult time.
The gradsingapore Team

The rise of technology has made job hunting both a fast and gruelling experience: where your parents could only mail out, say, 10 applications per day in the past, you can now spit out 20 – 30 – or even 50 applications each day, all with just a few clicks. But what this also means is that there is a higher chance of rejection as well.

Being rejected can be damaging on your confidence as it is often interpreted as a sign of failure, especially for young applicants who are just starting out on their career adventure. However, with a little objectivity, it is possible for you to turn disappointment into motivation, using it to develop your personality and character, and to find that dream job.

It won’t be easy, but there are some things that can help you move on from the sting of frustration, and it will be more productive than ice-cream binging or a night of soap opera re-runs.


Start by getting feedback from the employers or interviewers involved. If you were informed through email, then take some time to collect your thoughts and emotions before replying them with a thank-you message. Don’t stop there, though. Take the opportunity to ask about how you fared against the successful candidate, especially if you felt that your interview sessions had been a success. Start by emphasising on how important their feedback is to your self-development, and take their comments with an open mind.

If you were notified through the phone, though, you’ll have less time to gather yourself emotionally. Do your best, though, and thank them before asking for their comments. Alternatively, you can hang up first and ask your interviewers through a later email instead, especially if you feel that you need some time to yourself, or if you’re dealing with a HR personnel who isn’t directly involved in your application process.

Typically, most employers won’t mind giving you their feedback, but some might see this as P&C information, so don’t feel insulted if they decline to comment.

Pushing a little

In some cases, it might be possible – and very worth it – to push a little even after you’ve been informed of your rejection because it might just turn your “no” into a “yes”. It calls for a delicate touch, though, and you’ll have to be prudent about the way you go about it.

Do this only if you felt that the interview went really well, and that there is still a chance for you to salvage the situation. Tell them that you’re very impressed with them and would love to work with them, and if their selected candidate don’t work out or a similar position arise, you’d be very interested. Make sure not to make emotional appeals though, or you’d come across as desperate and playing the pity card.

Network even when you’re down

If you manage to strike up a good chord with your interviewer, try networking with him or her. Connect on LinkedIn or through their professional Twitter. It is even better if you can get people beyond the hiring manager to connect with you. With some luck, the suitably impressed interviewer might just recommend you to someone else in their own network – and who knows, an even more suitable position.

Don’t play the blaming game

Young applicants can sometimes see rejection as a personality flaw or a performance failure, which leads to unnecessary self-blame. This can usually be resolved by getting the interviewer to comment on your performance, but sometimes, there are also other factors that can influence the hiring manager’s decision, such as the other candidates’ familiarity with the business or direct sector experience. These are things that you can only accumulate with time, and are completely beyond your control.

Hiring managers also tend to have a pre-imagined candidate profile, and will only hire according to these expectations. This is also another factor that you cannot control.

Fresh approach

Ultimately, a good handling of rejection comes down to how well you manage yourself emotionally and moving on from there. Instead of wallowing in misery and bringing that emotional baggage to your next interview, take what lessons you can from this experience, and approach the next application with a fresh perspective.

Easier said than done? Maybe, but remember: every company and hiring manager will have a different idea of the “ideal candidate”, and you can only do your best by ensuring you’re fully showcasing your personality and abilities with optimism.