Getting rejected from jobs

I have been applying for many jobs and unfortunately I am not having much luck. I am putting in time for each application, so it’s quite difficult each time I get a rejection.

PS. I know most situations on Plozee are large scale and well-known, but this is a situation too. 

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Jason Ng
Potential
August 24, 2021 10:06 am

I know exactly how it feels to be rejected from a job after putting in so much effort. I’ve been there too. It’s all part of the process. What used to annoy me a lot about finding a job would be a common question from interviewers: “What are you doing in the meantime?” Every time I was asked this question, I felt that interviewers were so out of touch with reality. Finding a job is a full-time job in itself. It takes so much time and effort. What did they expect? I always got the feeling that I was supposed to be doing something extraordinary while I was searching for jobs, as if anyone has the time to do this. Was I supposed to be running a charity on the side or working on an artistic masterpiece?

This is a rundown of what it would take to apply for 1 graduate job. Research about the company, CV, cover letter, filling out an application form that could have multiple essay questions, aptitude test, first-round interview and a full-day assessment centre that would include group exercises, presentations and more interviews. The whole process to apply for just one company would be exhausting. And when you’re looking for a job, you’re not just putting all your eggs in one basket. You’re applying for several companies.

So it would always irk me when I was asked what I was doing in the meantime. I wanted to shout at the interviewer: “What else am I doing? Do you know how much effort it has taken just to apply here? I am applying for jobs and I have no time for anything else!

Add to this the demoralisation of every rejection. It would be very hard to keep going; I know exactly how you feel and all I can say is just keep going. It’s not easy, but just keep on with it. With every rejection, it would feel horrible to start a new application. It was as if all the effort to apply to the previous company was wasted effort. I was back at square one. I think some companies and recruiters are really out of touch with the strain applicants are under.

I remember one instance when I got to a first-round interview of a well-regarded company. Immediately after shaking the hand of the interviewer and taking a seat, his first question was, “So, what do you know about me?” I couldn’t believe it. I had stayed up all night researching the company, its values, its vision and all that stuff. And now the interviewer expected me to have researched him!? I can’t even remember what words I mumbled out, but I was fuming. Even worse was the disapproving look on his face when it was clear I didn’t know a thing about him. Not a great way to start an interview. To this day I think it’s ridiculous that he expected me to have gone through his career history and learnt about him as a person, as if there wasn’t already enough material to learn about when it came to the company. Completely out of touch as far as I’m concerned.

Oh, and getting rejected from jobs is a situation so should be fine on Plozee 🙂

Ernest Vicente
Novice
August 27, 2021 10:41 am

As said, it’s best not to take rejection personally. We are imperfect as job candidates and we are imperfect as gatekeepers for jobs. Human Resources is a department that is often looked down. I remember a funny conversation I had with a colleague who said if any other department in the company ceased to exist, it would make a noticeable difference. However if HR disappeared, not only would no one notice, but the company would be better off!

The truth is that HR serves an important function. People are the lifeblood of any company and if HR are the gatekeepers who acquire talent, it’s important they do a good job. We frequently see a contradiction here. Let’s take a hypothetical investment bank. In order to get a front office role, you’ll need excellent grades at university and high school, you’ll need to demonstrate a life outside of academics via sport, volunteering or a productive side-hustle, and it would help greatly to have gone to a big-name university. This is standard fare, unless you’re willing to give a donation under the table or you have a family member working in the bank – but nepotism and shoddy practices are a the subject for another insight.

When we look at entry requirements for the HR department, they are much lower. You don’t have to be a hot shot in high school and a first-class student at university. Why is this? It doesn’t help the silo mentality in the investment bank where front office traders look down on HR. It also doesn’t help HR teams who feel subordinate to the highly intelligent and superior front office staff.

More detrimentally the investment bank will have less capable people trying to establish a culture for the company and responsible for hiring staff. This is a problem because they either won’t be capable of detecting nuance in an application or they simply won’t have the authority to make good decisions. Who would you prefer to hire? Someone who has excellent grades, but whose application is generic and has been completed without effort? Or someone who doesn’t have the best grades, but is very motivated and has demonstrated an attitude to learn and improve? I would choose the latter candidate. However in most cases, the HR team would choose the former. The HR team will have been given clear guidelines of the type of candidate they want, and if anyone falls short of these guidelines, they are cut. It’s a shame because the bank will lose out on some excellent candidates who would go above and beyond to show the company it made the right decision in hiring them. No wonder turnover is so high in banking and finance.

What I’ve described above is exactly the same as the concept of ‘measurables’ in college sports. Let’s look at American Football. When a college recruiter is looking at athletes to recruit, they look at stats such as height and weight. Such a big deal is made over measurables that some high potential athletes never get recruited; just because they weren’t the right height or weight. Why is this? One reason. Accountability. If a college recruiter brings in someone who is 6’5 and 250 lbs, and that guy ends up being a flop, the recruiter can always point to his measurables. He will say he made the right call. All the signs pointed to the athlete being a star, but it was a twist of fate that things didn’t work out. Now, if there is a high school athlete who is 5’4 and 130 lbs, he could be one of the best players in the country but there would still be hesitation in recruiting him for college. This is because he doesn’t have the measurables. If a recruiter takes a chance with him and things don’t work out, he won’t have measurables to fall back on. What could the recruiter possibly say? At least in the previous example, the recruiter could say he was a mammoth of an athlete!

The same thing happens in Human Resources. There is an inability and an unwillingness to take chances with applications who aren’t squeaky clean and perfect. The lesson here? Don’t take rejection personally. HR is imperfect too.

Cristina Pellini
August 24, 2021 12:08 pm

When one door closes, another one opens. Think about Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group who has a net worth of $40.5 billion. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for him. Actually if you were to look at his early life, you probably wouldn’t think spectacular things were on the horizon for him, nor would you bet he’d become one of the richest people in the world.

Jack Ma has been open about his early failures. He failed twice on his primary school test, failed three times on his middle school test, and failed twice in his college entrance exam. In one of his college entrance exams he got a spectacularly low mark in the Math section of less than 1%.

When Jack Ma tried looking for jobs, things didn’t get any easier. When KFC came to his city, out of 24 applicants, he was the only one to be rejected. When he tried to join the police force, out of 5 applicants, again he was the only one to be turned down. Ma also tried to gain entrance to Harvard Business School and was rejected each time he applied. A total of 10 times. When Jack Ma founded Alibaba, investors didn’t see anything special and rejected funding. Failing to make a profit, Alibaba came close to bankruptcy.

The determination to keep trying when all the cards were stacked against him is admirable and inspirational. You wouldn’t blame him for closing shop and coming to the conclusion that he isn’t cut out for business. The reality is the failures made him the brilliant businessperson he is. He kept trying and persevered. With an attitude like that he went from someone who couldn’t get a job at KFC to someone who had the world at his feet.

jack ma.PNG
Anna Alonso
Novice
August 25, 2021 1:26 pm

Applying to a company and hoping for good news is the traditional way of finding work. It is by no means the only way, however. Here are some other ways people are finding jobs.

Networking
LinkedIn is a great network to engage with employees who work for a company you’re interested in. You can learn more about the culture and the type of work they do by requesting a call or a coffee catch up with an employee. You’d be surprised by how effective this is. People like being seen as experts in their field and like sharing their experiences. Don’t go into the catch up asking for a job. Instead show genuine interest in the company and the employee’s experiences. Go in there with a goal of creating a connection and enhancing your knowledge. You never know what opportunities can arise from being proactive like this. Also if you complete your profile and upload a professional photo on LinkedIn, you also have a good chance of recruiters and headhunters contacting you. Another option to try is Bumble. Not for a date! Use Bumble Bizz to connect with other professionals.

Innovation in hiring
A lot of people are dissatisfied with the current model of getting a job. There are an abundance of pain points in the process that innovative entrepreneurs want to eliminate. Some job search startups have tried to flip the traditional model on its head, requiring companies to apply to candidates instead of the other way round.

The Creator Economy
Many people are rejecting traditional jobs and turning to content creation as a full-time career. The allure of achieving overnight success brings many people onto platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Instagram, where you can earn large sums of money through sponsorships, brand deals and ad revenue. There are an estimated 37 million channels on YouTube. In the UK specifically it is estimated that the YouTube creator economy has generated the equivalent of 30,000 full-time jobs. 62% of YouTube creators in the UK say that because of YouTube, they’ve had opportunities outside of the platform.

Freelancing
In some cases getting freelancing jobs or ‘gigs’ is like applying to a regular company. You bid for an offer and wait to hear back. In other cases, freelancing is the opposite. On a platform like Fiverr, someone who needs work done searches through a list of qualified candidates. They look through different profiles and when they see someone they like, they contact or purchase a basic, standard or premium service package. Your responsibility as a freelancer is to have a great profile and keep getting good feedback, which will greatly improve your chances of getting offers.

Carly Sembre
Novice
August 25, 2021 11:04 am

We have a self-defeating tendency of equating our worth with rejection. Naturally when we are rejected for something we want, we get disappointed. But we go further than that. We start questioning ourselves. We wonder if we are good enough. Do we have what it takes?

A very good presentation that I watch occasionally is by Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Muse, an online career platform. In the presentation she talks about trying to get The Muse off the ground as a startup. She was rejected 148 times when pitching to investors in New York City. What amazes me about this is the sheer number of times she pitched for investment and how she didn’t give up despite the rejections.

There is a lot we can learn from her experience. She has been candid about her emotional state, questioning whether she was intelligent and capable enough to be an entrepreneur. However she also experienced a feeling of desensitization to failure. In the presentation, she remarks “I felt I had been turned down by so many people, I didn’t really give a f*** if anyone else turned us down.”

The same may happen to you. Rejection can make you feel down, but after getting rejected you can turn it to your advantage. You’ve already been rejected. It’s not the end of the world, is it? So what’s the worst that can happen? If you get rejected again, so what?

Remember, a rejection is not a reflection of a person’s worth. We have a tendency of glorifying that which we don’t have. When we’re applying for jobs and getting rejections, we believe that these companies are full of smart and amazing people. You feel that you have to be in the top 1% just to get a foot in the door. But when you finally get a job offer and spend a bit of time in one of these glorified companies, you see the reality. When working with some colleagues, I have genuinely thought to myself, “How in the world did this person get past their interview?”

Allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be rejected. We’re only human after all.