Applying for a job is a difficult and challenging process. Even the most suitably qualified candidates with relevant experience cannot guarantee success, due to the very subjective nature of the recruitment process.

When sending out graduate job applications, the last thing you want is a series of rejection emails. You need to stay in control of the process and the best approach is to talk to recruiters, deciding jointly whether you would be an appropriate candidate, and designing an appropriate email which reminds the recruiter that you have sent them your CV and why you are appropriate for that role (if that's the case).

This approach allows you, at a later date, to follow up with the same recruiter and get some honest feedback about why you have been successful or unsuccessful for the role. It also allows you to make yourself known to a recruiter. Even if you're not appropriate for that first role you will have made contact with a recruiter who knows about you and will look more favourably towards having a conversation with you in the future.

The best time to get a recruiter on the phone is generally at the beginning or the end of a working day. Monday morning, during peak ad response time, is not appropriate. However between 8.00am and 9.00am or 5.00pm and 6.00pm recruiters are usually at their desks, preparing for the day or tidying up after it. At these times they are therefore likely to have more time and a clearer head to talk to you.

Graduate on Phone

Handling rejection

Being realistic, you will receive rejections at every stage during your career. How much disappointment you feel will depend on how much you wanted that particular job.

Graduate recruitment agencies, like GRB, will always have to deal with candidates who get rejected at different stages of the selection process.

We realise it is easy to become despondent, especially if this is not the first rejection. Nevertheless, you must overcome these feelings if you are to get on with your job search and learn from the experience. Try to be objective and don't take it personally as there are always a number of factors which decide who gets the job.

If you're unsuccessful with an application, be brutal with yourself and try and answer the following questions:

  • did you have the right qualifications or skills for the vacancy?
  • were you really a good fit according to the job specification?
  • did you let yourself down with your application or interview technique?
  • did you do enough preparation?

If you're not getting interviews you should:

  • Re-examine your graduate CV. How attractive is it to an employer?
  • Assess if your covering letter properly laid out so that it helps identify the skills and experience on your CV.
  • Let a friend, member of your family, lecturer, careers adviser or a colleague look at your CV or covering letter. They can view your details impartially and give constructive criticism.
  • Ask yourself if you are applying for the right vacancies. Competition is fierce and you will at least an 80% match to the criteria.
  • Focus on networking and how you approach organisations at the application or speculative stage of the process.

If you're getting rejected at the interview stage:

  • Recognise that you have got further than other applicants. That is an achievement in itself.
  • Try and find out why you were turned down. Examine your initial notes after the interview to see if there were any indications then.
  • Contact the interviewer to politely request feedback in a non-aggressive or hostile manner and at a time is convenient to them.
  • Continue to show interest in the company and express a genuine wish to ascertain why you were unsuccessful.
  • Listen carefully to comments and compare them to notes you made after the interview.

Our top tips for dealing with rejection

  1. Checking the timing of the rejection (the stage of the recruitment process where you failed) can tell you which part of your job-hunting you need to concentrate on.
  2. You'll avoid further disappointment if you plan and research more at the pre-interview stage.
  3. Rejections are a natural process in any job search. If you gain one job offer for every six interviews then you are doing well. Remember to send out another application as soon as you receive a rejection letter.
  4. Try to find out why you have been rejected and act on the feedback. Ideally you should get feedback from the person who interviewed you. If the vacancy is being handled by an agency then it will more than likely come through the consultant. Remember to thank the company for their time and for the reasons why you weren't successful as this will help your job-hunting. If the interviewer points out a specific negative aspect then you need to take action to improve as soon as possible. This is a worthwhile investment in order to give yourself an edge and acquire new skills to move your career forward.
  5. Stay confident and positive at all times. The more you focus on your key achievements the faster your feelings of disappointment will pass.

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