Any job hunt usually involves a long and tiring process. You may feel discouraged and fatigue may kick in and a job rejection can easily disappoint you, especially if it’s a job you really wanted. You may get lucky and find yourself a job within weeks, but the reality is that many don’t. There are many reasons why this could be the case, such as: you are being selective with your job applications (which is not entirely the wrong thing to do), you are being very industry-specific or job-title specific, you may be lacking key skills in your application or it could simply be a case of wrong place, wrong time.

The best way to change the situation is to change what you can control: your actions. If you keep repeating the same process, chances are you will probably end up with the same result. Receiving a rejection email is not the end of the world, and it’s worth keeping the following in mind.

When applying always think of Plan B.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you put too much hope in a single opportunity you may be setting yourself up for disappointment and a feeling of failure. Applying to more than one role is always the better option as the odds are more in your favour.

Remember: it’s not all about you.

The probability is that you weren’t chosen not because you weren’t capable of doing the job, but because there may have been a slightly better candidate or someone is a better fit at the company. There are many things that need to be considered, so don’t be disheartened – you may have very well excelled in the interview but they may have had someone else in mind or someone who fits the bill more.

Ask for feedback

The rejection email or call itself is not feedback. Often times, we directly translate any rejection email starting with “Unfortunately…” as “You’re not good for the job.” Replying to the email by asking for feedback as to what could have been improved in your skillset or perhaps in your interview approach. Most times the employer or hiring manager won’t reply, especially if the vacancies received a high amount of applicants. However, if you were in the last round of interviews, you definitely deserve feedback so it is worth following up on.

Remind yourself of the odds

You were not the only applicant, whether you were one of fifty applicants, of a hundred or three-hundred. The odds are slim. Remember to manage your expectations.

Turn it around

A common question at an interview is: “what is your weakness?”. Most people usually answer this by reframing a strength of theirs as a weakness, as we tend to think of what the employer wants to hear. However, the question you should be asking to yourself is “what does my employer perceive as a weakness in me?”. This will allow you to turn this “weakness” on its head – as that point which makes you stand out. Do you have experience in an unrelated industry? How can that experience apply to the current offer and bring a fresh perspective?

It may not be merit-based

The fact is that hiring processes tend to lack transparency, so you may never know what part of your application undermined you or whether the selection was merit-based. Unfortunately, and especially in a small country like Malta, the network is a very powerful tool and oftentimes the selection process is very biased on who knows who or the recommendations you can collect. Of course, this shouldn’t discourage you but it should be a lesson in collecting all the references you can from past employers and/or co-workers. Cultural fit is also worth considering. Although you may very well be excellent at the job, when considering the rest of the team, the various skills available and their attitudes and interests, you may not have been as good a fit as one would hope for. In the end, this is saving your time too because if you don’t feel like you belong in a team it won’t be long before you’re back job hunting.

In the end, it is all about gauging each situation and approaching it accordingly. You may need to change tactics: consider timing, contacts and keep your options open and an open mind.

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