“Don’t let anyone, or any rejection, keep you from what you want” – Ashley Tisdale
So, you’ve been sending out your CV like crazy and maybe you’ve even had a few interviews. But all that keeps hitting the mat is rejection letters. I’m not going to lie to you – it hurts. If you’ve been keeping a record of all of your applications, like I recommended in this post, it may be starting to fill up and this can get depressing. I had 50-60 rejection letters before I got a training contract and I thought about giving up more than once!
Here are my top ten tips on how to deal with rejection until you get that congratulatory phone call!
1. Don’t take it personally
I know that this is easier said than done, but you really must try not to take it to heart. The partner/practice manager who has made the decision to reject your application was not rejecting you as a person. They were making a business decision based on their firm’s specific criteria which may or may not have anything to do with how you came across on paper or in the interview. The fact that you didn’t match their criteria doesn’t mean that you are not an outstanding candidate with excellent skills and talents.
Unfortunately, only one person can get each job so all it means is that there was another candidate who was better suited to this particular role. It’s ok – there’s another position out there with your name on it!
2. Don’t bring up the past
It is a sad fact of life that every time we face rejection, our brains naturally recall all of our past failures as a way of trying to cope. This brings back all of the negative feelings that went with those events and it starts a downward spiral. Stay in the present and don’t let past events fill up your mind. Every day is a new day and every application is a fresh opportunity to get a training contract. This in turn will help your positivity and enthusiasm for the job shine through in your application, voice and body language.
3. Focus on your strengths.
It’s easy to blame yourself and focus on your weaknesses when faced with a job rejection. Concentrate on what you are really good at and where your passions lie. Remember that no-one is perfect and don’t beat yourself up.
You have excellent skills and talents that will be perfectly suited to another company and training contract – it’s all about finding your perfect fit. If you are struggling to be positive – ask your friends and colleague what they would list as your strengths. We are so often focused on the negatives that we can’t see what is so amazing about ourselves!
4. Review your Applications
As I recommended in my last post, you should keep a record of all the applications and letters that you send out in your search for a training contract. This will help you to learn from the experience if you do get rejected. What would you have done differently? By spending time reviewing applications, we focus on learning and growth which helps us to move forward. You also need to reflect on your approach – whether that be the contact phone call, email, cover letter or your CV – to see if there’s something you could improve upon.
If you went in for an interview but didn’t get the job, it’s always a good idea to politely ask for feedback to help you for next time. Many interviewers are happy to provide this and you can always ask them to keep you in mind should a more suitable role come up. It can be very reassuring to know why you didn’t get the job – rather than letting your imagination run wild. After an interview for a NQ position, I asked for feedback following a rejection and found out that they were torn between me and a solicitor with 2 years’ PQE. That solicitor was prepared to work for a NQ salary despite their experience so I could understand why they selected him. But it was nice to know that I was their second choice (rather than speculating about how many others I was competing with!).
Learn from every experience, but after that – let it go and move on to the next application. As Michael from EK Business Law (@ekbusinesslaw) says, “the key is to keep moving, even if you have to change direction”. Wise words from a wise man!
5. Accept reality
You really must accept that rejections are a part of the job search. Prepare yourself emotionally to handle the disappointment that comes with rejection. I suggest that you regularly give yourself helpful, positive messages, like ‘I am going to find a job that I love’, ‘I am making positive changes in my life’, and ‘I have the opportunity to create my future the way I want it to be’. Where our thoughts go, our actions tend to follow.
6. Accept responsibility – don’t blame others.
Without focusing too much on the negatives or blaming yourself, accept responsibility for your part in the rejection. Take ownership for your contribution.
7. Remember you are not alone
Everywhere you look there are peers, friends and mentors willing and ready to support you through the good days and bad. Seek out those people – the support and shared knowledge will be so helpful on the bad days. Contacts, job opportunities and friendships can result when you connect with others on a similar journey. If you’re not sure where to find support, feel free to send me a message via my blog, my twitter feed (@RyanLegalEagles), my facebook page or via email to email@example.com and I will personally cheer you on and introduce you to others who can help you!
8. Work Your Network
Ask your friends or colleagues if they know of any job opportunities or networking events that you should attend. It’s worth also asking if they could recommend a few other people you should contact who might have leads.
9. Consult an Expert
If you’ve had a lot of rejections and have no idea why it keeps happening, it may be time to be proactive and discover what factors may be keeping you in the rejection pile. It wouldn’t hurt to run your CV by a career coach, mentor or colleague for their comments. Spend some time practising your interview skills with someone who will give you honest feedback.
From my dealings with them on twitter, I would highly recommend Michael from EK Business Law (@ekbusinesslaw) and Jan Hyde from CL Journal (@JanHyde). And, of course, you can always contact me and I would be happy to help.
10. Take Time Out!
If you have been looking for a training contract for some time, it may help you to take some time out to refresh and re-energise. Take yourself away somewhere for the weekend, visit some friends, go to the gym or even leaving the house for a short work can do wonders for clearing your mind. When you return you will be renewed and ready to tackle the next application!
Whatever you do – don’t give up, because your dream job is right around the corner just waiting for you to apply for it!