Job searching

How to move on when you’ve been rejected for a job

Rejection is an inevitable part of looking for a job. It's disappointing, but if you ask the right questions, you can use the rejection to write a better application or improve your performance at the next job interview.

You have spent many hours on research and on writing a good application and a good, targeted CV. Perhaps you have also been to a job interview where you felt that you presented yourself in the best possible way.

Whether you get rejected on your job application or after going to an interview, it's tough. If it has happened several times, you can also start to doubt yourself and whether you will ever get a job.

It's perfectly normal to think like that, and it's fine that you give yourself space to be disappointed. Just remember that it is not a permanent situation.

Keep your head up if you are turned down for the job

Even if you are upset about not getting the job, it’s still important to remember that you wrote a good application and a good CV and perhaps even got called for an interview.

Even though it may feel that way, it's not personal when you're not chosen. It could be very small things that meant that they chose a different application than yours, or that another candidate got the job after the interviews. You don't know the others who have applied for the job, and maybe there was just one who was a bit better suited to the position.

Often it is margins that separate the last applicants, and the employer has to choose one.

Get feedback on your job application

If you experience repeated rejections of your job applications, it may be a good idea to ask others to evaluate them. It can be your partner, friends or people in your network who may also have knowledge of the industry in which you are looking for a job.

Ask them to consider:

  • Is your motivation for the job clear?
  • Do you sufficiently describe your skills in relation to the company's challenges?
  • Are the jobs you are applying for realistic in relation to your profile?
  • Are you expressing yourself clearly and correctly?

You can also always contact IDA's career counsellors. They can help you target your job search and give you tips for applications, CVs and job interviews.

Log in and get feedback on the job application from IDA's career counsellors

Rejected for an unsolicited job application

You must be very lucky if you write an unsolicited application to a company and they just need someone with your professional profile. Therefore, you must prepare in advance that such an application rarely results in a job in the first place.

But this does not mean that you should give up writing an unsolicited application in advance. Instead, you should see it as the beginning of a dialogue where you make the employer aware of you, so that they may contact you in the future when they need a new employee.

When you have sent an unsolicited application, you must therefore always get in touch within a week and ask whether your application has made sparked interest in having a conversation with you about any future opportunities.

Ask the right questions after the interview

When you have spent many hours writing a job application and attending a job interview, you also have the right to ask a few questions afterwards. You can use this to your advantage in order to do better in future job interviews.

A good question to ask is what they emphasized when choosing their candidate. The answer can give you knowledge about which qualifications are important and which you may need to acquire in order to get a similar job.

Another good question is whether you can get concrete advice on how you can do better for your next job interview. The personal impression is important, and therefore it is useful knowledge if you can get the employer to give you constructive feedback on their impression of you at the interview.

On the other hand, there is no point in asking why you didn't get the job. The employer will probably say something like you did well, but they chose a candidate who was better qualified for exactly the position that was advertised. And you can't use that answer for anything.

Be polite and composed even if you have been refused

When you talk to the employer after being rejected, don't argue against their decision or try to convince them that you were the right candidate. You can't change their minds anyway, and you just risk burning your bridges.

Maybe you are disappointed or angry, but then you have to take a few deep breaths and make sure you appear constructive and polite.

It could be that the same employer needs to hire a new employee in the future, or that the candidate they had chosen is not interested in the job after all. Then there is a good possibility that they will contact the next candidates in line, and then it is a shame to be rejected because you were in the throes of your emotions and came across as a whiner.

Instead, you might want to ask if you can connect on LinkedIn and if they want to keep you in mind if a new opportunity arises.