How to bounce back after serial job application disappointments
Being turned down time after time for jobs you’ve applied for can be intensely disheartening, but there are some proven actions candidates can take to ensure their applications improve over time, which in turn will improve their chances in the marketplace, says Nomawabo May, team leader in the student advisory department at Oxbridge Academy.
“The most important thing to understand is that there are very few people who can claim they’ve never submitted an unsuccessful application,” says May.
“Given the tough competition for most vacancies, even highly qualified and experienced candidates sometimes face rejection. That means you should not automatically view rejection letters as a reflection on your abilities or on your desirability to hiring managers.”
The key is to not lose hope, and to continue working on your personal offering until your search is successful, May says.
“Of course this also means that you can’t continue submitting the same CV with the same qualifications and experience in perpetuity, hoping that one day someone will bite.”
So how can you help turn things around?
Get input from others - There are many experts who can provide insight into how you can represent yourself better, or can tell you what may be missing from your applications. As with anything else, a fresh set of eyes can provide a fresh perspective. Speak to student advisers at the institution where you studied or are still studying, or see an employment agency to determine where your skills might be appreciated.
Also, spend time online researching career paths in your chosen field. You may find that your skills are sought after in an area other than the one in which you were focusing your job application efforts.
Ask those who turned down your applications – This will require some courage, but the hiring teams that rejected your applications may hold invaluable information that can get you on the right path. When thanking them for their consideration of your application, mention that you would be interested in future opportunities at the company. At the same time, ask whether you can discuss your application with someone, as you would appreciate their insights into which additional skills or experience they would have found valuable. Some may choose not to respond, but many will be happy to assist in this way, which will have two benefits: first, you will get a clear indication of where your application fell short; and second, your determination to succeed and to work on yourself may make the decision makers take a second look at what you have to offer.
Use the summer holidays to your advantage - Don’t be tempted to take a holiday from your job search. The December holidays provide a great opportunity to get yourself noticed, as people quit, businesses gear up for expansion in the new year, and vacancies are generated. With fewer applicants throwing their hats in the ring during this period, your application is likely to be met with less competition and to have a better chance of standing out.
You can also use the holiday period to broaden your skill set so that you can enter the new year with a stronger CV.
While most education institutions will be closed over this time, some continue throughout the year. As always, make sure that you go with a respected registered and accredited institution.
Consider a niche short course in your field, or a completely unrelated one that will add an additional skill to your arsenal. You don’t need to spend three years studying full-time - there are some great courses that empower you with skills that are in demand, and that can be completed through distance or online study.
“Sometimes searching for work is work in itself, and candidates should treat the process with the same commitment and dedication they would show in the workplace,” says May.
“With each application, reflect on what you did well and what you could have done better, and continually work on honing your skills, personal brand and presentation. Most of all, don’t get discouraged, but keep believing in yourself and keep working steadfastly towards your goals.”
Nomawabo May is a team leader in the student advisory department at Oxbridge Academy.