The Five Stages of Grief Following a Job Rejection
Nobody likes rejection whatever form it takes, asking for a favor, a date, a job. Most of us spend our lives trying to avoid rejection.

But when it comes to job hunting, you have no choice but to put yourself out there.

When I graduated university, I had done a couple of internships and worked on campaigns. Confident I would find a job in the UK Parliament, I began submitting applications for every vacancy with a conservative member. Getting interviews was not too difficult; the hard part was turning those interviews into job offers.

After a couple of rejections I started to feel worn down, but to coin a cheesy line, “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.”

I learned from each rejection and eventually got a great job. Here is how you should handle the five stages of grief following rejection.


1. Response
Most interviewers send you a rejection by email unless you have gone through a lengthy process in which they may have the courtesy to call you. First things first, thank them for their time, tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and politely ask for feedback.

This is important. It will form the base of future preparations so you don’t go into your next interview blind. Thanking the interviewer is important. You never know when you will meet them again.

2. Denial
It’s ok to be upset or frustrated by the process so long as you don’t express it to the recruiter. Hopefully, you’re applying for jobs you are excited about, and therefore it’s tough to receive bad news.

Treat yourself to a nice meal, a night out with your friends, or binge-watch The Office for a few hours. After that, get over it!


3. Reflection
This is the point where you start to ask yourself what went wrong. There are multiple reasons you may not receive a job offer:  sometimes the competition is fierce; perhaps you applied for a job you weren’t ready for; or maybe you didn’t prepare and show the best of yourself during the interview.

To inform how you approach interviews in future, look carefully over your feedback. I was once told I was “overqualified.” Ironically, I was not getting the more senior jobs either! But I let the feedback motivate me -- after all, it was something of a compliment and convinced me I could be successful with another office. If it has something to do with your interview technique, take a moment to read the jobseeker guide or reach out to LI’s Careers Division for support.

4. Acceptance
Accept you did not get the job and start applying again right away. The key with any application is quality over quantity, which means your resume is tailored to the position you are applying for and your cover letter is written from a blank sheet of paper (no templates).

5. Success


You’ve gotten over your recent rejection; you’ve submitted several outstanding job applications; and now you’re being called to your next interview. Think carefully about your feedback. How can you reassure the next recruiter they should hire you over all the other candidates?

Perhaps you need to do more research, have stronger answers to standard questions, or be more confident in your body language. Don’t forget; you can ask LI’s Careers Division for a practice interview and receive frank, constructive feedback.

You will find a job; the key is to be proactive and learn from the experience. Good luck!

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