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What to do if things aren’t going to plan

In today’s tough job market, many graduates may find themselves waiting several months before they manage to secure a decent job. With an average of around 50 applications for every position, many applicants will inevitably face rejection at some point in their career-hunt.

Rejection tends to come in two forms: either you’ll get to the interview stage, but fail to get a job offer; or worse, you’ll send your application, but fail to get an interview.

Whatever happens on your employment search, we take a look at how to cope and move on from interview rejection.

Not getting the interview in the first place?

Unfortunately, pre-interview rejections are one of the common realities of job seeking. A lot of the time, rejection at this stage can be attributed to the huge amount of competition that exists for work. You should not, however, simply blame these rejections on bad luck.

If you have had very little response from your CVs and cover letters, something is going wrong with your applications, and it is important to work out what that is.

The Job

Start with the basics. Take a fresh, but critical look at the kind of jobs you’ve been applying for and ask yourself the following questions: Do you meet the minimum requirements? Is your academic record good enough and is your degree relevant? Do they require more experience than you can offer?

Although job-seeking can be a stressful time, don’t feel pressured into applying for jobs that you don’t have the necessary skills for – this will be a waste of time, and will almost certainly result in rejection.

Your CVs and Cover Letters

If you’re sure that the jobs you’ve been applying for are the right ones for you, the next step is to re-examine the cover letters and CVs you’ve been sending out

Are your applications effectively representing your abilities and suitability for the role? Remember the 20 second rule – most employers simply don’t have time to really analyse your CV, meaning it’s up to you to grab their attention with punch and immediate impact.

Take the time to tailor your cover letter and CVs – an employer will spot a generic document from a mile off. You need to talk about your achievements and experiences in a way that is relevant to the position. Are you conveying this information in the most persuasive way possible? Take a look back over the previous sections in this guide to find out more.

If you can’t see any issues with your applications, try getting someone else to read them. Your university careers adviser is the best person to do this. They will be able to critique what you’ve been doing, and assess what you’re doing well, and where you might be tripping up.

Not getting job offers after the interview?

Finding out that you haven’t got the job after you’ve been to see the employer can feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth. It can seem as though you’ve been cast back to square one, and after a few rejections, it can be pretty tempting to just give up and stop trying. This should never be an option!

You should never take rejection personally. You need to view these things from a professional standing point – you were turned down for profession, as opposed to personal reasons.

A rejection never invalidates your achievements and doesn’t make you any less likely to be employed in the future. It is normally just a case of bad luck – in different circumstances you might have got the job with the skills that you have, but on that particular occasion you were probably up against someone who could offer just that little bit more.

Interview recovery

Bouncing back after interview rejection is all about positive thinking. All experience is good experience, and you should look upon this failure as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and develop your technique.

If you know what errors you made this time, you’ll know how to avoid making them again in the future.

Self assessment

Be honest with yourself. Could you have been better prepared? Were you overly nervous, or did you come across as arrogant? Did you really manage to convince the interviewer about the strength of your abilities? If you think you ought to brush up on anything, such as your IT or communication skills, be proactive and do something about it. Most importantly of all, don’t stop applying for other jobs!

Think of rejections as part of the selection process. There will always be another job, and another interview around the corner. It might seem difficult at first, but each “no” you receive just takes you one step closer to getting the “yes” you deserve.

Things to think about if you’re not getting job offers:

What did you well?
What could have done better?
What have you learned about yourself?
What will you do differently next time?