How to Handle Job Rejection

How to handle job rejection is an integral part of your job search. It is always a disappointment to be turned down for a job but it is important that you are able to accept it and move on. With the right approach, job rejection can be turned into a valuable opportunity for development.

Dealing with Job Rejection

5 Top Tips on How to Handle Job Rejection

1. Ask for Feedback

Ask for specific feedback on the reason for your job rejection. Receiving feedback is the first step to turning the job rejection into a learning opportunity. You may have your own idea of why you were turned down for the job, but you need to ask for detailed feedback to get the full picture and to put an end to any nagging doubts you may have.

If you went through a recruiter it is straightforward to ask the recruiter for feedback, and it is part of the recruiter's job to provide it.  The feedback should be specific, ask for more detail until you feel you have sufficient information.

If you applied directly to the company, it is a little more intimidating to request feedback. You can do this using the email response below or you can call them and use this guide to ask for feedback.

2. Take Time to Review the Feedback

Negative feedback can be hard to accept and it may just be easier to ignore it and move along. However, carefully considering the feedback is the only way you will learn from it and improve you chances of job search success.

Think about what you could have done differently to improve your application or job interview performance. How to handle job rejection requires some reflection on what you can do better next time.

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3. Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Once you have carefully reflected on the reasons for the job rejection, you can work on the areas you need to change or improve on.

In addition to reviewing any feedback you have received, it is advisable to re-look at the job description to analyze just how close a match your experience and skills were with the job requirements. Was your job application realistic in the first place?

It is also important to recognize that sometimes the reason for the rejection is something you can't realistically change, such as a better qualified candidate being offered the job.

4. Make a Plan

How can you overcome any challenges you have identified and make the right changes? Consider the following actions to take to handle job rejection constructively and improve your chances of job search success.

  • ensure a good understanding of the next job opportunity by carefully reviewing the job description and conducting thorough company research before submitting your job application and attending the job interview
  • develop skills that you have identified as areas for improvement through training, online courses, self study
  • be better prepared for the job interview by practicing with a mock interview and preparing good interview answers to likely interview questions
  • develop good rapport with the interviewer by improving your interview communication skills

5. Keep Moving Forward with your Job Search

It is also essential that you recognize feedback that indicates that you may need to adapt your job search.  Are you applying for jobs that realistically you are qualified for and meet the job requirements?

Refine your job search to spend your time on those jobs that you do match and are a good fit for you. Develop excellent targeted job applications. Take the time to review your resume and your cover letter and look for areas that you can improve on.

How to Build Resilience and Overcome Job Rejection

Resilience is a key competency in the job market of today. Companies are subject to constant change and look for employees who can adapt and meet challenges constructively.  Your ability to deal with job rejection with a developmental and determined mindset will greatly improve your chances of job search success.

First step on how to handle job rejection is to put the rejection in perspective. In a tight job market there are usually a large number of job applicants for each job opening and 99% will get rejected. Even if you are well qualified and are a good match for the job, the statistics speak for themselves, rejection is part of the job search process. Don't make the mistake of viewing the rejection as a measure of your professional worth.

Stay positive and learn from the experience by taking these 3 essential steps:

1. Talk about your feelings

Share your frustration and disappointment with family and friends who are supportive and can offer constructive advice.  It is good to vent, but avoid negative pity parties and firmly focus on moving forward.

2. Take positive action

Doing something constructive will help you feel in control of the situation and reduce any feelings of helplessness.

It is much easier to handle rejection if you know why. Asking for specific feedback allows you to develop a plan for improvement.   

Responding to a rejection with a follow-up email can also help your candidacy for other positions within the organization.

3. Keep the momentum going with your job search

  • keep applying for appropriate jobs
  • work on improving your skills where possible
  • stay in regular contact with your network of contacts and your recruiters
  • try to avoid pinning all your hopes on one specific job, pursue as many realistic opportunities as possible

Focus on your strengths, reaffirm your own value and you will find the job that is right for you.

Job Application Rejection Email Response

This is an important step in how to handle job rejection. Send a short and simple email to follow up after being rejected for the job and to ask for feedback.

First, thank the company for being considered for the position, even when you didn't get the job, as this confirms your professionalism.

Briefly mention your disappointment in not getting the job and then ask politely and respectfully for specific feedback. This request should never come across as a demand or imply that you’re questioning the decision. It is rather an appeal for more information to help you move forward in your job search and career.

This is a good example email to send:

Email Reply after Job Rejection

If your job rejection already included sufficient detail about why you weren’t selected, you will not need to ask for feedback in your email response.  It is still advisable to make a good impression by sending a polite and professional email that expresses your gratitude for the employer's time and asks for future consideration if other positions become available.

Job rejection can seem like the end of the world but really it is part of any person's job search process. Know how to handle job rejection and use it as an opportunity for improvement.

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