How Do You Handle Job Rejection?

Searching for a new job is hard. You read the spec, you get excited by the role, you apply, you do interviews, technical tests, meet the teams and then…

“We’re sorry to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful.”

How do you handle this?

Think “That’s their loss” and move on to the next application. Sometimes stuff just happens. I lost one role during my last job search because I was too candid over the reason why my previous role had ended (the company’s owners had decided to buy in software instead of developing it in-house, and then liked the software so much they bought the whole company and sacked all their in-house devs and testers. That company turned out to be the primary competitor to the company I was applying for the job with!) and the company owner misinterpreted my candour as showing potential disloyalty to him as company owner.

(This was after a second in-depth interview where there were only two candidates, and within a hour of the interview ending, the agency was on to me saying that the company had rejected the other candidate. It then took them a week to decide that I wasn’t who they were looking for either.)

It took me almost three months to work out that this owner did not understand that the owner in the previous role had been a venture capitalist company with almost no hands-on presence in my workplace, and no concept of ‘loyalty’ in workplace relations (and no interest in exploring what ‘loyalty’ might mean). This was just a mis-match of views and experiences, and there was probably nothing I could have done about this. If I hadn’t been talking to the company owner in interview, I probably wouldn’t have come up against a personal idea of what being a company owner involved and how that influenced their own personal world-view.

(The really strange epilogue to this story is that some three months later, I started in a new role, and inside a week the test manager announced that he was leaving to go to a new job, much more convenient for his family obligations, and it was the job I’d applied for with the other company!)

1 Like

Fail fast, Improve Fast. Stand up & try again :wink:
Ask why they didn’t pick you and work on those points if they are relevant.

1 Like

Among other things, I would ask for any feedback that they haven’t given yet.

In other words, “why wasn’t I successful?”

In the past, valid reasons have been…

  • My experience was in testing other things than what they wanted (I get this the most)
  • They found someone they liked more (reasons not important in this case)
  • They were having doubts based on something in my CV, interview, etc (If they say this, then at least I know they’re being honest, and I don’t hold it against them)
  • They don’t like that I’m not certified as a tester. (This is the “low hanging fruit” … It almost never means they don’t want me for that, but it’s the easy out for … other things. I can complain if they say “But you’re a foreigner!” but not “But you aren’t certified!”

If the feedback is actionable on my side, I take action. Like for the experience issue, I created other CVs and interviewing tactics to relate my experience with their products.

If the feedback is not actionable, I do nothing (like the certification thing). They don’t want me and I don’t want them. It’s better for everyone that we don’t push it if it isn’t an obvious legal issue.

1 Like

That’s even if you hear back from them.

During this pandemic especially, I have applied for many roles and heard nothing back from so many.

Rejection is really hard to take, especially when you get really excited about a role. I think the longer that it plays out and the more it feels like ‘destiny’ and your dream job, the harder it will be to take that rejection, especially if there is no tangible feedback.

For me, I log a lot of this experience in my memory bank to ensure that when I am in the position to hire again in the future, that I will work hard to provide feedback when requested and to shorten the feedback loops.

I received a rejection email this week from a job I applied for four months ago! Not cool!

Ultimately, you have to take rejection and move on, growing mental resiliency is important and having a support network of people who know you and will support you, not just in a hollow cheerleading kind of way is important in those times, so that you don’t give up.

1 Like