Handling rejection

So you didn’t get the job.  Or worse still, you didn’t even get an interview.  Just an abrupt, impersonal email from the recruitment agency informing you that your CV was not shortlisted, because there were candidates that were ‘more suitable.’

Hurts, doesn’t it?

Yes, sometimes.  Especially when you thought you were perfect for the role, and the role was perfect for you.  So, how should you react?

Handling rejection

  1. I might as well take it on the chin. After all, did I really put that much effort into my application?
  2. OK, I think my application WAS pretty good. I tailored my CV and wrote a cover letter and everything. I’m going to follow this up, and ask the recruiter for some feedback. Maybe I was just unlucky, or perhaps there is something I should change about my application in order to be successful next time.
  3. I can’t believe they didn’t pick me. They obviously don’t know what they are doing. I’m going to send an email reply immediately, telling this racist/sexist/ageist/incompetent recruiter exactly what I think of them.

Most people opt for response 1 or 2.  A small minority decide to take the third option.  But for every one candidate that mouths off and tells us we can’t do our job, there are hundreds of others that take the rejection like a grown up.  And it is worth bearing in mind when you are rejected, that you are not the only one.  We received over 200 applicants in 24 hours for a support role recently.  Some of the applications were not suitable.  Others were just ok.  Some were above average – and the best ones of these were considered, and progressed.  Some were exceptional.  And among these, six were interviewed, and two received job offers.

What made them exceptional?  Well, these candidates had identified what the employer was looking for, and made a strong application based on a strong CV and cover letter that demonstrated they had all the skills and exactly the right kind of experience that the client was looking for.  Let’s face it, with over 200 applications, our client could afford to be picky.

200 applicants isn’t the norm by the way –we only get a handful for some of our roles, but that doesn’t mean our clients are willing to compromise on quality, so no matter how rare and in-demand your skillset is, you still need to make an effort with your application.

So, what happens to the rejected candidates?  Well, there will be some that were nearly successful this time – we’ll definitely consider them for similar roles in future.   Some applicants might have sent in a decent application that was not quite right for this role – we’ll bear them in mind for future roles that are more in line with their skills.  We’ll frequently go on to place people that were unsuccessful the first time.  Essentially, we’ll remember them for all the right reasons.

And then there are those that we’ll remember for the wrong reasons.  What does it say about you if you are among the small minority that chooses to react to the rejection with an angry email tirade telling the recruiter that they can’t do their job and accusing them of prejudice?  That you are angry and hurt?  Or that you are prone to threatening behaviour and irrational outbursts?  Does this sound like someone we would want to recommend to our clients and work with in future?

Not really, no.

Ultimately the recruiter wants to please their client and make a placement and make money, so if you were actually the best candidate, they would have put you forward for all of those reasons, regardless of gender, race, age or any other prejudice that you can think of.  All you will achieve through aggression is to eliminate yourself from working for any of their clients in the future.

Rejection hurts.  Big deal.  Take it like a grown up, move on, keep your chin up, and you’ll eventually get the outcome that you want.