July 25, 2024

From setback to success: Overcoming job rejection

Written by Nadia Alaee, Head of People, Deel

Many crossroads, challenges, and unexpected setbacks mark the journey to professional success. Whether fresh out of university or looking to make a career switch after years of experience, it’s essential to handle job rejection with a positive and professional attitude.

The labour market is unpredictable and constantly evolving. Leaving more and more candidates facing job rejection due to a lack of skills. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) recently predicted that AI will put eight million jobs at risk as employees will lack the technical skills required to keep pace with the technology.

But, with the right approach, candidates can turn a difficult situation into a powerful learning experience. By reframing rejection as an opportunity for growth, they can improve their candidacy, boost their confidence and focus on learning new skills. Meaning they will be ready to ace their next interview.


Embracing resilience and maintaining a positive mindset

Job rejection is a natural part of even the most successful careers. Before his success with founding Apple, Steve Jobs was famously fired from the company he helped create.

While this is just one example of job rejection, it underlines a crucial factor that should be applied to all disappointing work situations. Prioritising a positive mindset. This allows us to be more receptive to valuable insights, which can help pave the way for future success.

Some practical ways to embrace resilience include reframing rejection as redirection, practising self compassion, honing in on strengths, and seeking support from your network.


Leveraging networking opportunities and connections

Networking is an invaluable tool in any candidate’s arsenal. Having the right contacts can help develop and improve skill sets, stay on the pulse of industry trends, and meet prospective mentors, partners and clients.

A vast and diverse network can offer insights, experiences, and perspectives that expand your own knowledge and thinking – making you an invaluable resource to both clients and colleagues. It also helps you brush up on your communication skills – from managing in-person and virtual environments to providing constructive feedback and navigating difficult conversations.

Each contact you make in the working world needs to be nurtured. So, if you receive a rejection letter, try to maintain a professional and positive attitude. Keep the door open, and leave a positive lasting impression. You will not only grow professionally but will be front of mind when a future opportunity arises.


Seeking professional development and skill enhancement

Many people retreat into themselves after a rejection letter or lean into disappointment. However, these reactions are counter-productive. Instead, rejection can be used as inspiration for growth by revealing areas for professional growth and skill development.

For example, say you were interviewing for an entry-level marketing position and the hiring manager said that, while you ticked a lot of boxes, they went with the candidate who had more experience with Google Adwords. Rather than feel deflated about the rejection, begin researching courses which teach you the fundamentals in Adwords.

In the ever-evolving world of work, it is vital to grow professionally and hone your skills, regardless of your role’s seniority. By continually reflecting on past job rejections, you can identify gaps in your knowledge and develop these, so that when your next interview arrives, you will be fully prepared for whatever the hiring manager might throw at you.


Build a development plan

In 2023, two-thirds (66%) of large UK businesses said they struggle to recruit employees with the skills they need. With that in mind, you should channel your energy into developing a strategic roadmap for development.

Candidates should begin by identifying areas for improvement, along with the skills needed for your desired role, then set clear and achievable goals. Next, create actionable steps to achieve these goals – from enrolling in relevant courses, attending industry conferences, or seeking out mentorship opportunities.

Job rejection is never easy. We have all wallowed in that feeling of self doubt, where you think you are not good enough and might never be. But, by altering your perspective around rejection with these tips, you can shape yourself into the ideal candidate and turn a short-lived loss into a long-term win.