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Job Searching: How to Learn from Rejection

Posted in Candidates on Oct 23, 2017 by Keeley Edge

This month, we have a guest blog from David Shindler, Career Coach from Learning to Leap. David is passionate about helping young professionals become more employable and live fulfilling working lives.


As a recruiter, we represent many candidates and unfortunately not everybody can get the job. Having known David for some time, we asked him to share his wisdom and advice on how to learn from interview rejection, after all it’s very unlikely to go through life and get every job you interview for.

The chances of landing the first job you apply for after Uni are slim (but not impossible). Luck plays a big part. You are more likely to embark on a haphazard journey of trial and error with rejections along the way. Job searching can be demoralising over time when you don’t find what fits. The intensity and mundanity of the process can sap your energy. How can you learn from rejection?

Learning from rejection is one of the takeaways from my recent research with graduates about what has helped while job searching in their 20s. Most of them are succeeding despite barriers around existing recruitment processes. Yet, their common experience is that job searching feels tough and demoralising.

How do you use the experience of rejection positively so that it enables rather than disables you?

Reassess your approach to job searching

If it isn’t working and it’s starting to get you down, pause and reassess your job searching approach. Both a mentor and a coach will help you explore the reasons behind your rejections. Increase your self-awareness about what to stop doing, continue doing, and start doing for greater chance of success.

  • A mentor will give you the benefit of their experience, insider insights, what works for them and the pitfalls to avoid. Identify someone who is in the job, career or field that you want. Consider successful Alumni – you can identify them through LinkedIn or your old Uni. They’ll have been there and got the t-shirt, so they know what you are going through.

  • A job or career coach will focus more on helping you become clearer about what you want, who you want to be, addressing key psychological barriers holding you back, building your confidence, developing a strategy to get there, and supporting you as you implement your job searching plan. Check out here your coachability and how to get the most from being mentored.

  • A recruiter should be able to give you helpful information about the company you are applying to and their interview process. Having an idea of the questions that you may be asked and knowledge of what the company is looking for will make it easier to prepare for the interview.


Manage yourself well

The key to overcoming rejection while job searching is to manage yourself well. Stay in the game by developing your resilience and mental toughness. Embrace the challenge as part of the deal with job searching. Back yourself to succeed, stay committed, and prioritise what is within your control. Take a break, recharge your batteries so you are refreshed and ready for the next application. Then up your game so you give your best under pressure. Bring it on! 

Looking after your wellbeing is vital for having the energy and commitment to continue job searching. Giving regular attention to your mind, body, and spirit gives you the platform to perform at your best when the opportunity comes along.

Feedback on what is working and not working for you is a helpful starting point. Unfortunately, employers often fail to give feedback. So, you might need the support and necessary challenge from critical friends who have your best interests at heart. They can tell it like it is and soften the blow to avoid you being too hurt or defensive. Surround yourself with positive people, friends, and peers going through the same experience of job searching.

Build relationships

There is nothing more energising than hope. Remember, you are not hopeless! But being hopeful is not assertive enough. Instead, create hope by being proactive. Connect with people in jobs and sectors that interest you to help create potential opportunities for getting that crucial piece of advice or targeted introduction that opens the right door for you.

It’s your choice to be proactive and, yes, chance or luck plays a part, but both increase the prospects of the change you want. And remember, it’s not all about you. Show genuine interest and curiosity about the lives of others if you want to tap into their knowledge and goodwill.

So, take a risk or two to benefit from serendipity. Combine it with being disciplined:

  • Identify 6 people through research, approach them through a LinkedIn message, email or phone call, and arrange a coffee to pick their brains.

  • Join a community in your professional area and go to events.

  • Create your own community by asking some of your LinkedIn connections who are geographically close to meet up in person.

  • Don’t like the idea of ‘networking’? Become a magnet by showing your achievements and attracting interest from recruiters and employers.

For more job searching insights and tips from graduates in their 20s, grab the free e-book today.

David is an experienced coach who can help you to develop and grow beyond what you think yourself capable – to progress your career, gain a more meaningful future and work identity or enhance your current job performance. He has worked across the private, public and non-profit sectors for nearly 40 years. Prior to setting up as an independent coach in 2009, he spent over a decade in consultancy helping individuals, teams and organisations with their people development. He is a non-executive Director of Youth Employment UK, a social enterprise dedicated to tackling youth unemployment and a platform for the voice of young people. He is also a member of the Institute of Employability Professionals.

Should you want to find out more information about David and Learning to Leap, visit his website or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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