Tracy-Madonna: How to handle rejection in your career

Tracy-Madonna is a career development professional with experience in private enterprise, government and the NGO sector.


So, you’ve applied for 18 jobs, only had 2 interviews, and you still don’t have a job! You’re starting to feel like the world is against you, and that your whole degree was a waste of time.

Don’t give up! There are a range of strategies you can use to get things on track and to nail that dream graduate job.

1. Don’t despair

Every day, hundreds of people apply for jobs that they don’t get. We live in a competitive employment market place, so you can’t expect to walk straight into a job after graduation. Focus on using every job application you write and every interview you attend as a learning opportunity, and don’t despair. 

2. Re-frame your experiences

You didn’t get the job. Rather than take this as a rejection, re-frame how you think of it. Maybe that job wasn’t the right one for you. Just as you developed your specialist skills and knowledge over the course of your degree, so you are now developing your application writing and interview skills! Take this on board because we all learn from our experiences!  

3. Don’t do it alone

There are lots of resources around to help you prepare for applications and interviews, such as USQ’s Career Hub and Social Hub. But why not practice on your family with some mock interviews? They may laugh at you and you may feel silly, yet this will give you experience responding to interview questions and thinking on your feet. Or see how you can nail your next interview from your head to your toes!

4. Make sure you are talking the right language

Are you targeting your resume to the job you are applying for or sending out the same generic resume with each application? Employers and recruiters put a lot of time and effort into writing job advertisements and position descriptions, and are very deliberate in their wording. For each application, review your skills and experience against the advertisement and position description and ensure your response is tailored to highlight your suitability. 

5. Get networking

Explore networking opportunities with employers in your field. Are there events, such as Chamber of Commerce meetings, where you can introduce yourself? Remember to demonstrate your professionalism by keeping the conversation positive and targeted, and use the opportunity to ask for advice about getting into the sector. Make a LinkedIn account, it is a great networking tool to keep connected with previous colleagues and people that you may have met, or connect with new ones!

6. Keep it real

As a new graduate, you have a lot of exciting skills to offer. The one thing you probably will not have yet is significant practical experience doing the job. Keep your expectations realistic and apply for jobs that match your skill level. 

7. Maintain the dream

Stay positive and believe in yourself. You have spent several years attaining your qualification, now you need to focus your energy and expertise on developing an understanding of the graduate market, and targeting your application to your dream position.

8. Location, location, location

Where you live can impact the number of jobs available. Some areas have higher rates of unemployment or less opportunities in key industry areas. Explore vacancies in other areas to see the number and types of jobs available. Depending on your personal circumstances, it might be worthwhile applying elsewhere with the view of moving, if you are successful.

9. Seek feedback

Follow up with an employer to obtain feedback on how you went. This is not about ‘why didn’t I get the job’, but rather, ‘thank you for your time, I’m keen to receive constructive feedback on strengths I demonstrated through the application process, and areas I need to address in order to present as a stronger candidate’. Some employers will provide this feedback, some won’t, but you won’t know if you don’t try.

While all of us will experience rejection at some point during our career, it’s important to see the positives of the situation and learn from the experience. By staying positive and employing these strategies to bounce back, you will be one step closer to nailing your next application and interview and getting your dream graduate job.

For more advice on preparing for the graduate job market, contact the Careers & Employability Team and don’t forget to make the most of the free resume and application tips available on Social Hub. 


Related:

Rebecca: What every graduate needs to know before they graduate

Kim: How to finally land that job

Naomi: Working the little jobs to get the big ones