How to Deal with Graduate Job Rejections | Top Universities

How to Deal with Graduate Job Rejections

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Chloe Lane

Updated Jul 07, 2020



Job rejection

 “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, we have decided not to continue with your application.”

This is the email no recent graduate wants to see pop up in their inbox. If this is a response you’re used to seeing, you’re probably used to the sinking stomach feeling that comes with it.

Job rejections can be hard to get over, especially when you have a tendency to take the rejection personally. This can make it incredibly difficult to stay motivated when applying for jobs.

So, how do you get over the rejection and move on proactively? We ask some recent graduates who have been through it all before.

Take some time away 

When you first receive the rejection email, step away from the screen. Going on a quick walk or talking to a friend can give you a bit of time to process the information.

One recent graduate, Jackie Murphy*, offers some honest advice about how she coped with graduate job rejections:

“Allow yourself to cry if you need to, because it does suck and you need to emotionally get over it so you can get back up and try again,” she said. “If this was a job you really wanted, you’re bound to feel disappointed if you don’t get it.”

Don’t take it personally

During the job application process, you’ll share a lot of personal information with your potential employer, including your name, address, job history, education and even your hobbies. 

When you get rejected after sharing all of this information, it’s sometimes hard not to take it personally – especially if you’ve put a lot of effort into the application.

However, there are plenty of reasons that employers might reject candidates, with plenty of these reasons having very little to do with you.

“I don’t think I answered the questions as positively as I could’ve,” said Emily Simmons, a business graduate who now works in retail. “The role I was going for was also really competitive, so I think they just had a lot of applicants.” 

“I didn’t get the job because I wasn’t a good fit for the company” explained Shannon Webster, a food buyer, who studied biology at university. She added, “Although, I think they know when you’re not really into it.

“After the rejection, I just thought, ‘that company wasn’t for me’ and ‘I can improve on this next time’,” said Shannon. She added that it’s a good idea to make notes of what did and didn’t go very well, so you know what you need to work on.

Follow up on your rejections

If you’re unsure why you got rejected, following up your application can help you identify areas where you can improve.

Any feedback a company gives you is to help you do better in your next application. It’s a learning opportunity, not something to be ashamed of.

“Get feedback, even if you have to chase them for it,” said Shannon. “You’re not going work there so you have nothing to lose by following up. In fact, it might show that you’re serious about working in the industry.” 

“Remember, It’s all experience. Every failed job application is just helping you get the perfect application for when the right job comes along.” said James Jenkins, a recent psychology graduate.

Understand your motivation

‘Stay positive’ is often the advice given after a job rejection, but this is easier said than done.

“Staying motivated when applying for jobs is hard with jobs,” admitted James. “You’ve got to ask yourself why you’re actually doing this and use that as your motivation.”

“My advice is to remember that graduate schemes are not the be-all and end-all,” said Shannon. “There’s so much pressure put on graduates to get on these really competitive graduate schemes, when there’s so many other great jobs out there.”

Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get your dream job immediately after graduation, said Jackie. “You don’t have to stay in that job forever, so even if it’s not perfect, give it a shot." 

“Also, don’t feel pressure to compare yourself to your friends who are doing different things,” advised Emily, “because that can put you under so much unnecessary pressure”.

Emily advised using your friend’s experiences to your advantage. She said: “Ask your friends what questions they got asked in their interviews, because then if that question comes up, you’ll have prepared an answer”. 


What advice do you have for graduate job seekers? Let us know in the comments below.

*Names have been changed.

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