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4 ways to turn a rejection into career success

4 ways to turn a rejection into career success

Posted on June 2021 By Nicholas Farley

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Chances are, we’ve all received a rejection from a job application at one point in our lives. 

These rejections though, can shape our career just as much as the successful applications do. These rejections influence your career path and, if used correctly, can give you a spring board to improving your chances of finding your next role.

The job market has fluctuated substantially over the past year, with a significant increase in unemployment due to the pandemic and now a dramatic rise in job ads as the economy continues to recover. With the now rising number of job ads, and usually only successful candidate offered the role, statistically there will continue to be many rejections for unlucky candidates received over the next few months.

Job rejections are never easy, but in truth they are a necessary part of the job search process and offer the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and work towards long term career success and growth. As most job seekers apply for a handful of opportunities when conducting their search, the likelihood is, each of them will have the opportunity to use a rejections to their advantage, and below are some examples.


The best way to improve at anything is seeking advice for improvement, and acting on it. Receiving constructive criticism from those who are more knowledgeable e.g. receiving feedback from employers after a rejection, is an invaluable opportunity to get what candidates need to improve. Most businesses that value their candidates hiring experience usually provide feedback to its applicants, but unfortunately that isn’t always the way.

If the information isn’t provided, contacting a hiring manager shortly after receiving a rejection is the best way to access valuable feedback. This feedback will identify areas where the candidates experience may have fallen short, or provide them with things to work on from their interview and self-promotion skills.

Requesting additional feedback also demonstrates a willingness to seek out criticism to develop, and provides an opportunity to reiterate interest in future roles within the company. Although some employers are reluctant to provide feedback because of the potential legal liability, a request for feedback gives applicants a final opportunity to make a positive impression which could serve them well in the future.

Research the successful employee

After the rejection email or call is received, the candidate should keep an eye on who was selected. Although it may take some time, the person who was hired will more than likely update their LinkedIn and be present on the company website. This is an opportunity to study the successful applicants profile to see what knowledge, skills and experience that they possessed which resulted in them being offered the job. They may also chose to connect in order to network with them, learn from them, and show some interest in finding and applying for similar opportunities.

Draw up a plan

Once the experience and qualifications that have proved to be successful for others finding their desired role in the chosen industry have been identified, it is then possible to formulate a plan. The plan should consist of some targets to reach, and a timeline of when this will be. In some instances, the targets set may be time consuming, such as gaining more experience or a significant educational qualification like a masters – if this is the case, it will still provide a clear goal to work towards.

If it is something more abstract like an employee referral, a cultural fit or something similar, setting the goal can become slightly more difficult, but assessing this is a good starting point. There is always something that can be done to present as a stronger candidate and gain an advantage on other applicants – it is just about finding out what that is and doing something about it.

Assess your aspirations

The final opportunity a rejection provides to candidates is the chance to reassess and focus your efforts. As we’ve touched on, there are many reasons for rejection ranging from something outside of the job seekers control to a knowledge gap. However, if a pattern emerges, it’s possible that there is a disconnect between the candidates expectations and your abilities.

It’s unfortunate but not every goal is accomplishable – and whilst it may be difficult to accept, rejection can provide some clarity to assess whether the individuals aspirations line up with their skill set and strengths. These candidates shouldn’t be afraid to ask people who have knowledge of the industry – whether it be a career counsellor or a mentors - if they think their career goals are achievable and realistic.

A job search will always be a fairly bumpy road for candidates, and often takes some trial, error and persistence to eventuate in success and frustration is only natural, especially in a competitive field like Marketing. But, it’s important that job seekers stay positive, take all the advice they can get on board and refrain from giving up – as long as this persistence is focussed on goals which are aligned to the candidates abilities, and there is a plan in place to achieve them.

Having the capabilities to seek feedback and take direction to improve is a great strength to have, and one that is valued by employers. By turning these negative rejections into a positive – an opportunity to network, make a plan and reassess their aspirations, job seekers can increase their chances of landing an offer, as well as taking charge of an opportunity for future job satisfaction and success.

This blog was adapted from a piece in the Undercover Recruiter.