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Taking The Sting Out Of Rejection.

by Matt Edge-Wilkins

3rd Jan, 2022


Taking the sting out of rejection

Why don’t they like me? What did I do wrong – what more could I have done?

These are the questions we all ask ourselves after putting our heart and soul into a job application or interview and coming up empty. It’s never nice to feel that your best isn’t good enough, but you need to realise that sometimes your best just isn’t what recruiters need.

As an applicant, your participation in the recruitment process is a major part of your life but from the hiring manager’s side of the table you are a very minor element in a much larger process.

Let’s look at this from both sides and hopefully it’ll give you a more balanced idea of what you’re up against, so that next time you get the ‘Thanks but no thanks’ email or phone call you won’t take it quite so hard.

The applicant…

So, you’ve seen a role that you like the look of and from the job spec you’re positive you could do this and do it brilliantly. The more you read it the more you want this job – you become convinced this is a match made in heaven and getting this job would be the best thing to ever happen to you (cue motivational montage sequence with power ballad).

You undertake detailed research into the company, the products or services and possibly even the team – wow, everything looks perfect, it’s like you were meant to be together!

You muster the courage to reach out to the hiring manager to introduce yourself and get more details about the role and the kind of person they are looking for.

Then, you take everything you've learned so far and spend hours on your CV until you’re absolutely sure this application is the best it can be before sending it off with a packed lunch and a loving kiss on the forehead…every moment of your life from then on is spent checking your email and thinking of things you should have included.

One of three things will happen at this point:

  1. You never hear anything at all. How rude! You spent all that time on them, the least they could do is reply.
  2. You get a ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. Disappointment and disbelief, the least they could’ve done is interview you.
  3. You get an interview – Yes! Now the real work starts. Your output increases, you do even more preparation, you book time off and spend money on outfits and travel and pour every moment of your free time into getting ready for the big day.

Your interview day arrives and you do your thing. Again one of three things will happen here:

  1. You get hired, go you!
  2. You go through to a second interview – you invest in even more preparation, by this time you are physically and emotionally exhausted!
  3. You get a ‘Thanks but no thanks’. What!? You’re hurt and disappointed, what did I do wrong? What more could I possibly have done?

The recruiter...

If you got what’s behind door number 3 at this point, it helps to think of the hiring process from the recruiter’s perspective.

Multiply the information in your application by 10, 20, 100. Now think realistically about all the care and time you spent crafting your application, if you were recruiting would you be able to spend as much time reviewing all these applications as the applicants spent writing them?

No – you give them a quick scan, look for key skills, boom, next. Your CV might get all of three seconds under the all-important eye of the recruiter, they don’t see all the hard work you put in just to get it to that point. They don’t care, they’ve got their own job to do on top of wading through this recruitment process – their life is hard enough.

They don’t curl up in front of the fire with each application and emotionally invest in it like you do with a beloved book.

Then there’s the interview. While this is your big day, for them it’s just another day in the office, having to deal with all the business as usual plus interviewing dozens of people and trying not to lose the will to live while asking the same questions over and over again - it’s like Groundhog day but without the delight of Bill Murray’s company.

Think about the process the same way you would go about investing in a new piece of office equipment. It is important but it’s not personal, or emotional.

Product A has the basics, product B offers a bit more bang for your buck, and product C is more expensive with some nice bells and whistles.

However, all three offer the same basic elements. So are you really going to splash out for product C when you don’t really need all the extras that come with it when product A meets your basic needs and comes in under budget? No, you don’t care how excellent products B and C are – they don’t even get a foot in the door.

The only time they might is if you’ve used them before, which means you don’t need to spend time learning or setting it up for your needs. You can hit the ground running, which saves you time and as we all know – time is money.

In some very rare cases the products (candidates) might be so similar that your ultimate decision comes down to superficial differences, but generally it’s based on whether they can do the job and come in on budget. That’s it, and all the bells and whistles in the world won’t change that.

And finally…

At the end of the day applying, or recruiting for a job isn’t easy for anyone, it’s never a black and white process and your main touch points (application and interview) only show either party the tip of the iceberg.

So take heart, you really are brilliant. A little more understanding of what goes on behind the scenes (on both sides) could help make job rejections less unpleasant for everyone.


Amber D'Angeles

Content and Communications Specialist / Guest Writer


Check out our other blog posts here!


I hope you find the above useful. If you have any questions about the blog or would like to arrange a chat, please contact us at [email protected]

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