How to turn rejection into positive action

“I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve been unsuccessful, it was a tough decision and you were a close second”

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a phone call like this? In recent weeks, I have had a number of candidates advise me that they have missed out on job opportunities only to be told they were a “close second”.

In today’s current job climate, we are navigating through unprecedented times, there is uncertainty on many fronts that to hear another rejection can be particularly challenging. When it comes to applying for jobs the effort and care involved can take a mental and emotional toll. Here are some of my tips to turn rejection into positive action:

1. Ask for feedback

If you didn’t receive specific feedback, don’t be afraid to ask. Whether it be via a recruiter, HR or business owner – email them and thank them for the opportunity and ask for any feedback that will help improve your application for similar positions in the future. Feedback from those who have direct knowledge of how you performed will be worthwhile information that will help you next time.

2. Do you have the right experience?

Experience is one of the main drivers in the recruitment process with many employers wanting previous experience to demonstrate that you are capable of succeeding in their role. I’ve had candidates ask “How do I get the experience if no-one will give me the opportunity?”. To gain this experience think outside the square and explore how you can build on your experience or consider undertaking some training such as online webinars (training doesn’t have to be costly these days). Look within your current place of employment. Can you ask for additional duties or be trained to act as the back-up person who steps in when someone is on leave? Have you considered volunteering your time in the industry that you’re looking to break into? Seek out these opportunities that will further add value to your existing skill set.

3. Preparation is the key

Upon reflection, did you present your best self at interview? Preparing for an interview is more than being well presented and reading the job description. You need to demonstrate your knowledge and passion of the company you want to work for. Prepare by researching their website, blogs and social media presence. Understand the company’s values, talk to those in your network who can give you intel on the company culture. Let your research speak when you’re asked about why this role and company is the right fit for you. Being prepared also allows you to ask more insightful questions throughout the interview and demonstrates how serious you are in assessing this opportunity.

4. Are you well connected?

Do you have an established network? If you’re not already on LinkedIn, set up your profile, follow companies that are of interest to you and connect with those you’ve worked with previously. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from those who would be prepared to vouch for your experience and recommend you for opportunities. You can then let your network and recommendations demonstrate your experience at the interview.

5. Did you make yourself stand out from the crowd?

Sometimes the little things go a long way, you’ll be surprised how a thank you email after your interview can impress as well as your responsiveness to phone calls/emails throughout the process. These little acts can be the thing that differentiates you from other candidates who have been shortlisted for the role. This is something completely in your control and shows how genuine you are about securing a new opportunity.

Above all else in your reflection, be kind to yourself and focus on the positives that got you there in the first place. Your resume was well received, you stood out (often from a large volume of applications) to be invited to attend the interview process and you made it to the final round. Something that many others tried to do and didn’t. Here’s hoping with some minor tweaks, the right opportunity will be yours before you know it!



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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