The resume that disappears into the mysterious depths of the world wide web, never to return. The call for that second interview that never comes. The rejection letter from the company you had your heart set on joining. Rejection hurts. Unfortunately, when applying for new roles it’s par for the course. Especially this year, when an unprecedented number of Australians have found themselves looking for work due to the global pandemic. With the job market the most competitive it’s been in over a decade, it can become difficult to maintain optimism and positivity, especially after experiencing a few knock backs. Persevering in your job search is the only way to eventually land your dream role, but this becomes a difficult task after your confidence and positivity has been dented by rejection. If you’re in the midst of a rejection rut, Design & Build have collated the following steps to kick your job search back into gear and help transform future negative feedback into potential opportunities that will you get that much closer to securing your ideal job.
When receiving a job rejection at any stage of the application process – maybe it’s not hearing back after submitting your resume or finding out you won’t be proceeding to the final interview stage – it’s natural to feel disheartened and disappointed. But while an initial outpouring of frustration can help, it’s important not to let it fester or take the rejection as a personal attack on your character. These negative thoughts first and foremost, won’t aid you in your job search and will seriously dent your confidence. Deteriorating confidence levels are detrimental to a job search; how can a future employer have confidence in your ability if you don’t convey that confidence in yourself? Consequently, experts recommend that after experiencing a knock-back, it’s important to remind yourself that this rejection isn’t a statement on you or your ability, but part of the hiring process.
Organisations are usually hiring for a role where there can only be one successful candidate, the one that they feel is best suited to the role and organisation. On average, hiring professionals will receive 118 candidates applying for the one role. Many companies will then use talent management software to screen resumes, weeding out approximately 50% of applications. Even without the software, only 20% of the total applicants for a job will land a first interview. These statistics aren’t meant to deter or depress job seekers, but to demonstrate the low odds involved within the job-seeking process. Statistically, it will be very unlikely for you to land every job you apply for, but that’s ok because it’s statistically difficult for anyone to land every job they apply for. Job-seeking is competitive and not getting a job isn’t personal, it’s part of the process and just means that those responsible for choosing a candidate found someone whose experience and skills resonated more strongly with them. This isn’t to say that they didn’t like you or didn’t think you were capable. It’s also important to remember that there are always other jobs out there. While it might not seem like it currently, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australia’s employment rate increased by 1.4% within one month alone (September to October) and this percentage is expected to increase as more organisations begin to resume their normal business activity.
Furthermore, while trying to remain confident in the wake of rejection is easier said than done, experts recommend focusing on your strengths. There will always be areas where each of us can improve, but remember that you bring your own unique value propositions to the table. Online job platform, Seek suggests creating a list of your strengths and key contributions you’ve made to previous workplaces to remind yourself of your strengths. Not only will this reaffirm your value as a potential employee, but it will come in handy for your next job interview.
Rejections can be disappointing and a blow to the ego, but they can also provide you with a chance to gain valuable feedback that can then be used to land your next role. If after experiencing a knock-back, the organisation doesn’t provide an explanation as to why you didn’t progress to the next round, it can be worthwhile to reach out via the phone or email and asking for any suggestions on what to improve for next time, or if they could offer any constructive feedback. This might not be relevant if you never heard back from a company after submitting your resume, but if you’ve progressed to the final stages of the application process and built somewhat of a rapport with those interviewing you, gaining their feedback can provide you with invaluable information. Sometimes we can be blind to certain weaknesses in ourselves, while a third party can provide a more objective viewpoint. The hiring manager in question might be able to identify any potential skill gaps in your experience or things you can work on within the interview process (body language, verbal communication etc.) that you weren’t aware of or hadn’t considered previously. Being able to take these recommendations on board and use them to improve your skills and knowledge can only strengthen your job eligibility when applying for your next role.
Some experts and organisations believe that those looking for work, can view this transitional period as an opportunity. Linkedin Learning senior editor for Job Search & Careers News Andrew Seaman, encourages those looking for work to utilise this time by trying to expand their skill set and undertake courses and workshops to advance their knowledge, particularly in areas they’ve identified as integral for working within their desired industry. Perhaps you’ve received feedback that certain gaps in your skill or experience level prevented you from moving forward a particular jon application? Now is the perfect time to bridge those gaps and gain the skills to become an even more attractive candidate in your next interview. Alternately, maybe there’s always been a skill or subject you wanted to learn more about but found you previously didn’t have the time. Now, with so many accessible e-learning courses available, upskilling has become a highly feasible activity to do while job seeking, and every time you upskill or complete a course, you’re able to add it to your resume.
Not only does self-directed learning suggest a high level of passion, initiative, and drive in a potential candidate, but the more skills and knowledge you can list on your resume or demonstrate in an interview, the bigger the competitive edge you’ll provide yourself, which in today’s competitive market is a significant asset. When considering courses to enrol in, Andrew Seaman suggests looking at those that focus on developing transferrable skills like communication, creativity and problem solving. These types of skills are required across all jobs, no matter the industry and thus will be relevant to whatever job you apply for.
Actively looking for a job can be stressful, especially if the circumstances around you looking for work was unplanned. We all have additional pressures - particularly financial pressures- which can feel like an extra heavy weight to carry when going through a period of unemployment. Furthermore in the current environment, those looking for work have felt additional stress fuelled in part by the uncertainty of the pandemic itself, the uncertainty many businesses are currently navigating through and by the portrayal of the increasing unemployment rate within the media. However, experts say that it’s important to maintain perspective during your job search. When psychologist and executive coach at Dynamic Transitions Lisa Obre- Austin was talking to Linkedin about coping mechanisms when looking for work during the pandemic, she mentioned that fixating on any news about the pandemic or the unemployment rate will only exacerbate any feelings of anxiety and stress. These issues are outside of your control and therefore aren’t worth dwelling on. Alternately, she suggests focusing on what you can control; your skills, your knowledge, keeping your resume up-to-date and continuing to reach out and stay in touch with your professional network.
She also suggested trying to maintain a routine during your job search in order to create a sense of normalcy; including a few hours of job searching a day, or three times a week (whatever works for you) but also sticking to things like exercise, meditation and a dedicated period of ‘down’ time to give yourself a break and ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed or consumed by your job search.
For those who are struggling to remain positive off the back of job rejection, Beyond Blue’s lead clinical advisor Dr Grant Blashki, reminds us to go easy on ourselves if it’s taking a while to secure a new role. These are extraordinary times and circumstances beyond your control are making it that much more difficult to cut through the job market. Dr. Blashki also reiterates that unemployment is not permanent. The situation in Australia is already improving; employment rates are increasing, employees are returning to the office and the number of COVID cases across the country have decreased dramatically. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the number of roles available will start to reflect this, if not already.
Job hunting is never easy and while rejection can hurt at the time, it’s important to remember that it’s an inevitable part of the process. Everyone will experience rejection in some form while looking for a new role, but being able to learn from this rejection and use it to your advantage will make all the difference in eventually finding and securing your dream role.
For those that are currently looking for job opportunities and seeking additional advice on the application process - maybe feedback on their resume or assistance with their interview prep -Design & Build has a team of consultants who specialise in helping candidates with their job search in addition to knowing what clients are looking for when hiring. If you’re wanting to seek advice on ‘cutting through’ within the current job market and making a strong impression with potential employers, reach out to our team of consultants at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to find your next role? Start the search today!