The current job market is highly competitive. Employers are spoiled for choice when it comes to sourcing candidates and placing them into roles. Social media profiling, network enquiries, time pressures and sometimes, even laziness, finds them being more and more specific about the ‘fit’ of candidate to company. Where once a candidate with highly transferable skills could readily move sideways into a role utilizing complementary skills or a candidate with relevant experience could grow and develop into and within a new position, recruiters and corporate hiring managers can now literally pick people out of companies doing the exact same role and put them into another company to do the exact same thing. Saves on development costs, reduces risk and allows hiring managers and recruiters to move quickly to appoint candidates and move onto the next vacancy. It’s a challenging environment for candidates and recruiters / hiring managers alike.
Job vacancies receive large volumes of candidate applications. In a discussion I had last week with a company, they received 50 applications for a maternity leave contract. A recruiter I met received 300 applications for a senior role. When I queried whether 300 people in Melbourne had experience at the level the role was pitched, the response was “well of course not, but all the applicants thought they did, which makes screening CV’s exceptionally difficult” (important note here…make sure your CV can articulate its merit to someone who might only take 6 seconds, that right, 6 seconds, to scan it before deciding you’re out of the running).
If you’re in the market searching for your next opportunity, you’re probably doing all the right things. My go-to list includes:
- Talking to recruiters who specialize in your area;
- Applying for roles that interest you;
- Engaging your networks on LinkedIn and Twitter;
- Reaching out to hiring managers who post jobs of interest on LinkedIn;
- Setting up coffee meetings with people within organizations for whom you’d like to work;
- Searching job boards.
However, you’re not going to land every role you apply for, nor secure interviews for many. Inevitably you’ll have to manage rejection that can come in many forms, including:
- Automatically from an ATS (applicant tracking system);
- From a hiring manager or recruiter via email or telephone;
- From your potential manager, post interview;
- The silence that comes from no response, acknowledgement or feedback at all to an application you’ve made.
How you respond to and manage rejection can have a significant impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Most people who have been in the market will attest to the fact that it can be a difficult place to be, professionally and emotionally. Whether you’re already employed and keen to make a move out of your current role or have left a role to concentrate on your search, everyone wants to make a connection, score an interview and land their next opportunity. So here are my top tips for managing job search rejection:
- Just because someone doesn’t see your value at the time, doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable;
- Be aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour when you are rejected. For example: you have a discussion with a recruiter who won’t interview you for the role you’ve applied for because the client has a very strict brief as to the industries from which they want their candidates. Instead of feeling angry at the recruiter, less valued, worried about securing employment and potentially responding with a “well it’s their loss” conversation or email, try to hear what you say to yourself (self talk), as this will influence your feelings and behaviour. You can see that the client’s brief and recruiter’s position start the process. But it’s your thinking that produces how you ultimately feel. Therefore a better response may be: you have the conversation with the recruiter, it’s unfortunate they won’t put you forward for the role, but accept their reasoning. You feel disappointed, but kept in perspective as you know there are other opportunities out there and it’s only a matter of time before you land your next great role;
- If you’re interested in receiving specific feedback, request it. Use this as motivation for your next application or interview. Be prepared that you may receive none…if so, take action as per point 2;
- Don’t speak disparagingly of an employer, recruiter or hiring manager because things didn’t go your way. You may need them one day and conversely, they may need you;
- Keep going. Your ability to sustain the momentum will help you land that job. Be engaged, make connections and don’t throw in the towel.
Remember, no one enjoys a job search rejection. You might not think so now, but sometimes you may have even unknowingly dodged a bullet. And remember at the end of the day, it will only be as ‘bad’ as you let it!