Handling Rejection

 There are a few actions you can take that may improve your future applications.

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Take another critical look at your CV, application forms and covering letters and ask yourself:

  • Have you been focused enough in your approach and conducted the relevant research into the firms and sector you are applying to?
  • Are you making it clear that you know what the jobs you are applying to involve?
  • Do you meet the criteria stipulated in the job description?
  • Are you being unduly modest about your accomplishments?
  • Have you spent enough time tailoring your applications to the jobs?
  • Are you using the correct medium for your applications? For example, if recruitment in your chosen profession or industry operates through a network of contacts, have you started trying to build these?

Although you can’t change your experience or accomplishments you can:

  • meet with a careers adviser to review your CV or sample cover letters/applications
  • provide further detail, rearrange or alter the emphasis
  • acquire additional relevant experience by taking new courses or taking part in voluntary activities or temporary jobs
  • review the applications section of this website for expert help and advice on improving your applications

However, sometimes you may have to accept that an employment area is very competitive, and that your particular qualifications and experience might be insufficient to secure a graduate position right now. If this is the case, but you are still committed to a career in the area, it can be helpful to undertake more research, perhaps arranging to speak to/meet people in the field to get their opinion on your qualifications and experience – and to get their advice on any alternative routes into that particular profession.

If you think that disappointing grades/qualifications are one of the reasons that your applications are not successful, try not to worry, as this doesn’t always mean that you can’t pursue your career of choice. For further advice, read our page on how to overcome disappointing grades.

If you are getting invited to interview and/or assessment centres, you can safely assume that, on paper, employers consider you to be a strong prospective candidate. However if you are not receiving any offers after these interviews/assessment centres, there a number of ways that you can review your past performance and hopefully improve upon it in the future.

  • Review your performance, identifying areas of strength and those that can be improved. It’s worthwhile making some notes at the end of the day(s), whilst it’s still fresh in your mind – reviewing how you answered the questions and/or each activity and giving an honest appraisal of your performance on each
  • Ask the employer for feedback on your performance (most firms should be able to provide this after an assessment centre/interview)
  • Are you able to demonstrate, and substantiate in person, the messages you have given in your applications?
  • Are you presenting a professional, confident image?
  • Look again at the pages in this section on preparing for interview, and ask yourself whether you have been making adequate preparation or not. Be honest with yourself, and replay in your mind some of the answers you gave – particularly the ones you found most difficult.
  • Be very honest with yourself, and consider whether you are suited to this sector/career.
  • If it still isn’t obvious how you can improve your performance in future interviews, you can book a meeting with a careers adviser or attend one of the many employer-led Mock Interviews sessions held at the Careers Service.

If you think you are doing enough research for you applications and interviews, watch this TED talk by Edward Druce, to see how high he sets the bar for research about a company.

If you get very nervous in an interview, watch this TED Talk by Amy Cuddy for tips on how to be reduce nervousness and increase confidence.


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