How to move on effectively when you didn’t get the job

unsuccessful job candidate reading a letter

Missed out on that dream job? Turn the rejection into resilience with these effective, confidence-boosting strategies

Finding out that role you had your heart set on has gone to another candidate brings with it a special kind of rejection. After creating a standout CV, researching the role and giving the interview your all, it can be a real blow to your confidence.

When we receive news like this, we tend to fixate on what we see as a failure on our part. And it’s not long before disappointment can spiral into something more, leading us to dwell on thoughts that stop us from moving on, dusting ourselves off, and learning from our mistakes.

But missing out on a job doesn’t have to mean taking the rejection personally and ditching the job search entirely. Instead, we can use such instances as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves for future applications.

Instead of letting a rejection shake your confidence, use these top tips to separate yourself from the situation, re-focus your efforts and stay on the path towards your next role.

frustrated woman looking at laptop

Try not to take the rejection personally

Remember, unless you’re some kind of superhuman, you won’t land every job you apply for. So, when you receive a “no” or don’t get a response at all, try not to let the frustrations get the better of you.

Rejection is, unfortunately, just part of the process of applying for jobs. Once you accept this fact, then your emotional resolve becomes stronger over time.

That said, disappointment, frustration and anger are natural responses to rejection. If these emotions do creep in, vent them in a positive, effective manner.

Not only will your potted plants thank you, but you’ll know you’ve used your time constructively. Step back and let yourself cool down, then, try talking to a friend, do some exercise, listen to your favourite music, or write down your feelings.

This way, your thoughts and feelings won’t stay bottled up inside. Congratulations, you just took the first step towards moving on!

Don’t overanalyse

Even after doing the above, it’s easy to fall into the habit of replaying certain scenarios over and over. Did I shake the interviewer’s hand properly? Was there a question I stumbled on? Maybe I attached the wrong cover letter to my application?

 The fact is, you can over-analyse what went wrong until you’re blue in the face, and it’s nearly always a bad idea. By doing so, you’re staying in the past, robbing yourself of the chance to move on and continue with your job search.

When these obtrusive and unhelpful thoughts spring up, remind yourself that what’s done is done. Instead of fixating on the past, look towards the future. We’ll cover one such approach in the next point, a tactic that all resilient job-hunters do to strengthen their upcoming applications.

frustrated job candidate

Ask for feedback

You can glean some useful information from your experience, even after the hiring manager has made their decision. Asking for feedback can give you a sense of closure and allow you to better understand why you didn’t make the cut.

Not all companies are forthcoming with feedback, but it doesn’t hurt to ask why you weren’t chosen. In some instances, it may be because the company might have promoted internally or lost the budget for the position; both reasons that were out of your control and therefore not worth losing sleep over.

Alternatively, there may be other reasons for your rejection that you can learn from. Perhaps your skills didn’t meet the requirements, you stumbled during the interview, or you weren’t a good fit for the culture.

Whatever it is, it’s always better to know. That way you can work on these weaknesses in time for your next interview.

Asking for feedback also shows a pro-activeness that could impress hiring managers down the line when similar roles pop up. Be gracious in your request, choose your words carefully, and follow up with a thank you note after they respond.

Stay in touch

If the company or role was one you really liked the look of, leave things on a positive note. You don’t want the door to swing shut when future opportunities arise; maintaining a connection with your interviewer could lead to a future job.

Companies keep a record of former applicants they liked, so they can fill open positions. Keeping in touch stands you in good stead if they come calling for you again.

Don’t shy away from staying in touch. Instead, send an email to HR or the manager who interviewed you to check if any positions have become available. In your correspondence, include any new experience or skills you’ve accrued in the meantime.

This shows that you have a long-term interest in the company, and that you’re continuously improving your own skillset – two things that may set you apart from other candidates.

woman writing in notepad

Refresh your CV

If you’ve fired off several applications or attended a few interviews and they’ve all come back negative, then you may need to work on your CV. If it’s something like a few typos here and there, then you’re tripping yourself at the first hurdle. Fortunately, such errors are easily rectifiable.

On the other hand, if you think your rejection might be a result of missing skills or a culture fit, you can always strengthen your CV by taking an online class to learn some new skills.

Alternatively, you could always try taking on a new project at your current job if possible. It’ll mean sacrificing some flexibility, but it can be a great way to fill a gap on your CV. It also shows the hiring manager you’re proactive when it comes to learning new skills in your current role.

Keep your strengths in mind

After being rejected, it can be easy to downplay your accomplishments. Instead of making molehills out of your employment mountains, create a list of the strengths that you’re most proud of. Whether it’s on a Word document or in your phone, list your accomplishments, and think of specific situations when you demonstrated these skills.

From leading a project to defusing a difficult workplace situation, writing these achievements and strengths down can remind you of your abilities if you’re reeling from rejection. They can also come in useful when answering questions at your next interview.

smiling man looking at his phone

Turn to your network

A useful way to create new opportunities in the face of rejection is through your network. Reach out to contacts, let them know about the jobs you’re interested in, and ask for recommendations for companies to apply to.

It doesn’t guarantee instant job offers, but you might find people are more willing to help than you first thought.

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