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Dealing With Rejection in Your Job Search

Most job seekers face rejection at some point in their search for work. It’s simply a fact.

According to Glassdoor, a typical corporate job posting gets an average of 250 applicants. Only 4 to 6 of those 250 applicants move ahead to the interview process.

Being rejected for a job can be hard to take. How you should respond depends on why you weren’t successful. The steps in this article can help you deal with your situation.

Stages in the hiring process

In 2022, the average job searcher spent 5 months looking for work. However, this timeline is different from industry to industry.

There are a few key stages in the hiring process:

  • You send in your application.
    • Some companies will tell you when you can expect a response, but others give no indication.
  • The company decides which applicants are the best possible fit.
  • Selected candidates are invited for interviews.
    • The interview process can take 4 to 5 weeks.
  • The company checks candidates’ background and references.
  • Someone gets an offer and starts the job.
  • The company notifies unsuccessful applicants.
    • According to Indeed, 85% of applicants hear back about their candidacy within a few weeks of applying. However, many companies don’t notify unsuccessful applicants at all. Waiting can be frustrating.

What rejection means at each stage (and what you can do about it)

Job seekers can be rejected at any stage of the hiring process. If you see a pattern of rejection, this can indicate areas that need improvement.

If you don’t hear from employers at all, you may want to adjust your resumé or cover letter. On average, recruiters spend just 6 seconds reviewing a job application. You need to make a good impression right away!

  • Check your spelling and grammar. Make sure your skills match the job description. Make sure the information at the top of your resumé and cover letter is eye catching. And make sure your cover letter clearly communicates the value you bring.

If you don’t pass hiring managers’ initial screening interviews, this may be related to the company culture. Think about whether you are a good fit.

  • For example, perhaps you applied to a company that claims it’s fast-paced. Did you present yourself as someone who thrives in that environment? What can you do differently the next time you have an interview?

If you get to the interview stage, but have trouble getting an offer, you might need to improve your interview skills.

How to minimize rejections

First, never take a job-search-related rejection personally. It’s just business. No one likes to be rejected, but everyone goes through it. It’s important to stay positive during your work search.

Rejection is a natural part of the hiring process. But there are things you can do to give yourself an edge.

1. Build and use your personal network.

  • Ask your friends and past colleagues if they know anyone who’s hiring. Personal referrals can minimize the chance you’ll be rejected.
  • If you don’t have a network, join online forums related to your industry. Online meeting places like Slack and Meetup are great ways to network remotely.
  • Go to in-person networking events.
  • Use LinkedIn to follow recruiters in your industry. Keep up to date with their posts.

2. Apply in person.

  • If your job opportunities are local, try to apply in person. Ask for the hiring manager and introduce yourself. Building rapport with the hiring manager may help you get to the next round. This works best with smaller businesses or where it’s a common practice, like in the retail or food service industries.

3. Send a personal video.

  • According to a 2021 LinkedIn survey, 79% of hiring manager believe video has become a more important way for them to assess job candidates. Use free tools like Vidyard to record a quick introduction video for recruiters. This is a simple way to build a relationship and stand out from other talent. 

Tip

Rejections during your job search are natural. Keep applying and don’t get discouraged.

If you need help, connect with one of the free employment programs in Alberta.

Follow-up can help you beat the odds

Job hunting can be frustrating. Taking follow-up steps can help reduce the chance of rejection.

When you’re applying

Once you’ve submitted your resumé and cover letter, call or email the hiring manager to let them know you’ve applied.

2 weeks after you’ve applied

If you haven’t heard back from the company after 2 weeks, call or email the hiring manager to follow up on your application. This lets the company know you’re still interested in the position. And it helps you stand out from other applicants.

Reach out with a simple message to ask if the position has been filled or if applications are still being reviewed. You should get a reply, but keep applying for other jobs while you’re waiting!

After the interview

If you’ve made it to the interview stage, congratulations! During your interview, ask when the company expects to have a decision. If you haven’t heard back by this date, reach out to the hiring manager with a simple inquiry. The company may have had to adjust its hiring timelines. Or it may have hired another candidate. Either way, you’ll know where you stand.

If you get rejected

If you don’t get the job, ask the hiring manager for feedback on why you weren’t chosen. This can help you correct your approach for future opportunities. Don’t react negatively. It’s important to leave a good impression and reinforce your interest in working with the company in the future. 

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