Career Tips

Job Search Advice: 7 Steps to Take When You Keep Getting Rejected

By Mary Shea Watson-

It’s never easy. You invest time, resources and energy in one, maybe several rounds of job interviews. You ace the interview, send follow-up thank you notes, and hear the news you didn’t want to hear: No. We landed on another candidate. We really enjoyed meeting you, but…

Darden’s expert team of career coaches recently hosted a workshop on next steps in First Years’ MBA internship searches and job searches when nothing seems to be working. Read their top tips for success below.


1. Take time to reflect.

Think about what you feel worked well in your previous interviews and what you think didn’t work well. Keep feedback from interviewers or recruiters on your areas for improvement, if available.

Have a notebook and write down your reactions on paper so you revisit them. Now is a great time to ask for feedback from your classmates or colleagues, too.

2. Keep in touch with networking contacts.

Remember the person you met with your dream job at that networking event? Or the recruiter you worked with on a job you were rejected from a year ago? It’s never too late to re-open a door you haven’t visited in a while. You never know what job openings might be available at the company you took off your list, or at the company you never considered adding to your list.

The same is true for people you connect with during job interviews that don’t pan out. Let those new networking contacts know where you are in the process and check-in with them again in a couple months.

3. Have an accountability buddy or group.

An accountability buddy, a partner, family member or a good friend is a perfect person to keep you on track in your search. Schedule check-ins with that person every few weeks and report on which new jobs you’ve applied to, or new people who you’ve met who you think will be helpful in your search.

Being able to explain your goals to someone else will help you clarify them and remain tactical in achieving them.

4. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date.

You’ve likely invested significant time in updating your resume, so be sure to give the same attention to your LinkedIn profile. It can be as simple as copying and pasting bullet points from your resume directly into your LinkedIn.

Or, have you taken a class, learned new skills or received certification in a subject area that might be relevant in your search? Add them to your profile.

5. Be proactive rather than reactive.

Don’t wait for job application deadlines. If you see a posting that catches your attention, apply to it as soon as you are able. Recruiters review most applications on a rolling basis, and they’re also required to keep postings open until a candidate has accepted an offer. So, it’s always in your best interest to get ahead of a potential rush and be the first on a recruiter’s radar.

6. Always do your homework.

Researching companies that interest you is paramount to finding success in your search. Make the best of every interview (yes, even the initial phone call) by doing a little bit of work. Ensure you have well-researched answers to questions such as, “Why are you a great fit for this company?” and “Why do you want to work here?”

You also want to ask thoughtful questions at the end of your interview. Make sure they’re not questions that are directly answered on the company’s website, for example. It’ll distinguish you from others applying to and interviewing for the same job.

7. Stay resilient.

Dealing with failure is difficult, no matter the situation. After a tough job rejection, take a few days for yourself. Don’t think about anything related to your job search. In the stress of the job search process, do you have a hobby that you’ve left sit? Find the time to do something you love and to pursue your passions.

When you’re ready, pick yourself back up, and just keep swimming! Everything will work out.

Read more job search and career tips from Darden’s Career Development Center.