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You’ve received a rejected job application … now what?

You open up your email in excited anticipation only to find a rejected job application for the role you applied for.

And maybe this is just one of many rejected job applications or perhaps it stings even more as you were absolutely sure that this role was made for you!

Don’t Panic

First things first … don’t panic.  It’s human nature to feel disappointed and it’s good to spend a few moments in this place before moving on.  But don’t use this time to despair and think that you’ll never find a job.

Stay Confident

Not hearing anything after applying for a job or receiving a rejected job application can be really disheartening and can start to chip away at confidence levels.  If you feel this happening, remember all the achievements from your recent jobs and how skilled and capable you are.  Take a moment to picture yourself in one of your greatest achievements and revisit this feeling whenever you’re feeling a little down.

Don’t take it personally

It’s really easy to say, and much harder to do, but really try not to take the rejection personally.  It feels personal because it’s is, after all, about you. But recruitment is a matching game and a rejected job application doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, just that there’s a better match in someone else.

View it as a process

The best thing to do when applying for jobs is to think of it as a process.  Invest time, energy and brain power but try not to get too emotionally engaged until you’re invited for an interview.   The process starts with checking you’re a close match to what the job ad is looking for, tailoring your CV or supporting statement appropriately and making it as clear as possible to the hiring manager why you’re a great match.

It’s a challenging market

In these post-pandemic times and with the cost of living crisis, recognise that the employment market is really tough at the moment.  We're past the point where there was a shortage of candidates and we're back to multiple candidates chasing every job.  

What could you improve?

With all of the above in mind, how do you increase your chances of being called for interview?  The first thing to do for every application is to tailor your CV to match the job description or advert.  If you are struggling to match your skills to the role, it’s probably not a good match and you’re unlikely to move forward in the process.  Feel you are a good match? Then highlight why in your supporting statement or cover letter and tailor your CV.  If you’re applying for a range of jobs because your skills are broad, it might be an idea to have more than one CV with different emphasis based on the jobs you’re applying for.

How can you stand out?

Apart from tailoring your application closely to the role, there are a few other things to do.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and matches your CV, has a friendly, professional photo and, ideally, has some recommendations about your work performance.

Keep an action log and follow-up with a call or email a few days after you have submitted your application.  This shows you’re keen on the role in question and not just randomly applying for any job going. You may manage to speak to the hiring manager or recruiter and get an opportunity to say in person why you’re a great match.

Seek out help from specialist agencies who will have their finger on the pulse of the job market and can represent you to clients who are recruiting.

Make an extra effort to engage with your network of friends, family and colleagues both on-line and off-line and let them know you’re looking for a new job.  Lots of roles are filled through personal contacts.

Don’t give up

The key message is ‘Keep at it’.  Finding a job is a job in itself and you’ll probably need to try a number of different routes and approaches. But hundreds of job offers are made each day and hopefully you’ll be receiving one soon!

For more advice check out our blog about taking care of your well-being during your job search here.


4 min read