Rejected? Keep at it, say job gurus

By Donna McIntyre

When companies interview candidates, they're looking for a specific team fit or type of person for the role.
When companies interview candidates, they're looking for a specific team fit or type of person for the role.

Being turned down for a job is never pleasant. And if it happens more than once, as it often does in the job hunting process, people understandably feel dispirited.

Jane Kennelly at Frog Recruitment says coping with not getting the job offer can be broken down into three parts: getting over the rejection, analysis of your application and moving forward with your job search.

The first step starts in sharing the frustration, disappointment or anger with a friend or family member in a confidential setting.

"Don't take it personally," says Kennelly. "Often when companies interview candidates, they are looking for a specific team fit or type of person for the role. You might have excellent skills but not have the attributes or experience to fit into the company culture. And when it comes to fit, being rejected could end up being a positive outcome because you could have ended up being unhappy in the role."

Remember your skills and qualities will be suited to another company and position.

"If you've been on the job hunt for some time, give yourself a mini-break to refresh and re-energise.

"Be realistic. Were you honestly applying for a role that would've suited you? We find that new graduates and younger people often make the mistake of applying for roles that are too senior for them," she says.

Careers coach Kate Avery says having expert support to provide a balanced perspective is critical.

"'Reframing' the rejection with a positive affirmation such as 'the right job must be just that much closer' will help with moving on quickly rather than dwelling on the experience.

"Psychologists tell us ruminating on negative experience takes us more deeply into negativity and feelings of low self-worth. We are best to focus on what is good in life," Avery says.

"I often say to people that once you have managed a job or career transition successfully you will be able to do it again with greater levels of competence. Quote by Vince Lombardi: 'The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall'."

Catherine Stephens, career development and employment services manager at Auckland University, advises job hunters to be realistic about the jobs they apply for, especially if they never get an interview. Do they fit their qualifications, skill set, experience and personal attributes?

She suggests talking to a career development consultant or attending career workshops.

"Did you research the company to find out their core values? Many students do a 'scatter-gun approach' - using the same CV and cover letter for all jobs - and it shows. Try to be original, make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors. Your application must be well presented and targeted for the specific job.

"You must know your brand and how to market yourself."

Avery says the job search process is challenging and complex for most people regardless of their stage of career. "It is important to de-personalise a job vacancy as being just that - a job that needs doing in exchange for payment. The person selected to fill the vacancy might be considered 'the ideal' candidate for one employer but could possibly be 'not ideal' for another employer although the role seems the same.

"Rejection is difficult at any age and stage. For young people starting out in their careers it can be a soul-destroying process which could be damaging for their long-term confidence and sense of self-worth.

"Employability is a personal responsibility for all ages and career stages. The more employable the person the more likely they are to be confident and resilient.

"But then as we age, rejection can become more commonplace, due to ageism ... [but] older job seekers are more likely to suffer less around rejection because their working life has already proven their self-worth."

James Dalrymple, Auckland director of Robert Walters recruiters, says there is no harm in phoning interviewers to get an idea of why they thought you weren't suitable.

"All recruiters and employers will handle it differently and some are better at giving feedback than others.

"Just ask why you were not successful and say it would be really useful to ... [help with] ... job seeking,

"It is important you are open and sincere about wanting that feedback. If you come across overly disappointed or disillusioned you're less likely to get 100 per cent feedback."

Kennelly believes recruitment agencies should offer feedback as part of the process. "It can be reassuring to find out why you didn't get the job, rather than letting your imagination run wild thinking the worst."

Dalrymple says younger jobseekers with established careers tend not to take rejection personally. "They have a confidence that there is something else out there for them.

"Interviews are an art and the more you interview, the better you will get at it."

Avery says main reasons people don't get jobs are: over-experience or under-experience; being under-prepared for the interview, not building rapport at the interview and not being clear about what the job offers.

She says it is often easier to cope with rejection when you already have a job because you still feel "employed" even if the role is no longer satisfying.

"Rejection weariness can spiral into depression so it is very important to seek help and support before this happens," she says.

"It is better to be targeted in your job search than to apply for everything vaguely like what you think you could do and then have to cope with the resulting volume of rejections."

Kennelly says candidates often fall into the trap of losing momentum with their search while waiting to hear if they landed a job.

"Our advice is: Don't stop looking until you have accepted a job offer.

"As tough as it sounds, a positive mental attitude is vitally important," Kennelly says.

"Not only does it impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health, but it allows you to represent your best self to employers.

"While you can't control the job market, you can control your attitude - so make it a positive one!"

- NZ Herald

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