Persevere Through Job Rejection

Persevere Through Job Rejection
The rewards for those who persevere far exceed the pain that must precede the victory.
~Ted W. Engstrom

I admire job candidates that take the initiative to sincerely ask for feedback.  Many people simply need improvement finding ways to articulate their abilities in ways appealing to the employer.

It is tough though, because in today’s day and age, everyone is so ready to shout out the “D” word (Shhhh!  It’s “discrimination”) as the reason why they didn’t get a job.  So many HR people don’t tell you anything when they turn you down.  The less you say, the less they can use against you if they file a suit.

I take a more compassionate approach and I try not to say anything misleading but try to consider giving helpful feedback in areas where the candidate might genuinely benefit from.  Sure I've been burned by people that have quoted me out of context and issued a complaint or grievance against me.   I've never let that stop me.  When I'm asked, I won't stop giving requested feedback, because most of the time, people really appreciate the  help...and I like helping.

In truth, there are times when many awesome people are interviewed for a single open position and it’s heart breaking when you know that the second runner up could absolutely do a great job too, but there is only one job to offer.

I always hope that by turning candidates down they don’t lose hope so I always try to be encouraging and sincere when I turn them down.

So if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of rejection (and in your heart you know you could have done a great job in that position), consider these thoughts:

Don’t dwell on self defeating thoughts of blaming yourself for being inadequate.  In all likelihood, you are completely adequate and there are simply not enough positions to offer. 

If you showed a prospective employer everything you’ve got e.g. prepared a strong resume and got good reception in the interview, and they still didn’t select you, then somehow, it’s not the one for you.  Trust that the right decision was made and move on.

I have seen situations where hiring managers are hammered into taking a candidate that they didn’t really want.  The outcome is never fun for the applicant or the manager. 
That is why seniority based hiring (often seen in unionized environments) can fail miserably for everyone in the department.  When the manager and the employee don’t work well together, it makes the environment toxic and negative.  Save yourself and let the job go. 

Don’t resort to self destructive behavior like over-eating, over-spending, over drinking, bad mouthing, or blaming etc. to make yourself temporarily feel better.  You will only regret it later when you get over the high of binging.

Don’t resort to self destructive thoughts like saying to yourself that you’ll never get a job or there is something wrong with you.  I have been in recruitment for years and I honestly believe that when candidates put sincere effort into finding a job, and they are selective about what jobs they apply for, making sure the job is in line with their values and talents; they always find the perfect position for themselves.  It may take a bit of time, but it has always been true.

If you weren’t the successful candidate but they gave you positive feedback do stay in touch with them and try again later.  The next time around might be the right time for you.  I have called many 2nd runner ups for contract or permanent positions.  I recall one time I stayed in touch with a candidate for 3 years, calling to find out what he was doing until finally the position he applied for opened up again.  He's with my organization now and he loves it!
Do reflect on each job application experience and make note of any improvements you would like to make.

Seek out the advice of good mentors and trusted friends for input in areas that they may be knowledgeable.  If you don’t have access to these people, seek out credible sources on the internet, library or related associations for information.

Accept the situation, and remember that there really is something perfect out there for you.  It simply hasn’t shown itself to you yet.  If you take a job you’ll hate, you will miss the right opportunity.


  1. My last run around the interview block ended well - I think!

    I can honestly say though that when I answered the advertisement - I was stretching. Not over-reaching, but definitely stretching.

  2. @My Half: Stretching isn't such a bad thing. That's how we expand, right? I hope it turned out well for you! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Encouraging words. I have been on both sides and have been rejected for jobs and had to reject people. It was a difficult task for me to write the "I'm sorry" letters -- made even more difficult because I didn't like the person the boss chose and felt another candidate would have been a better choice and that my input was totally ignored. Sigh. But it gave me insight into the process and now as I face looking for a new job, I will be able to accept rejection with a slightly less personal point of view.

  4. @Natasha P: Just like interviews, you can never shake being nervous; Job turndowns are always disappointing. But good for you for having the fortitude to look for insight from the experience!

  5. I can definitely identify with your frustrations as HR manager. I lost track of the number of times we went all the way through the interview process only to not hire anyone for whatever reason (reorg, no funding,etc.) Frustrating for me for the wasted work but also felt bad for all of the candidates because we didn't hire because of our inadequacy.

  6. Thanks for this. The sad thing is some of the discrimination claims have come out of people trying to be too nice when giving feedback for example implying it's about your age and not your skills.

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