Careers Service


My applications are being rejected

When your application is rejected it can be tough to pick yourself up, especially when the employer hasn’t provided any feedback on why they didn’t select you. Unlike your studies, where you receive feedback on your assignments and get to understand where you went wrong, you can be left guessing on what the problem really is, which makes it hard to improve on. There are however things you can do to learn from these setbacks and improve.

Practical steps you can take

Ask for feedback where possible

Most employers don't provide feedback on CVs or application forms. However, by the time you reach interview or assessment centre stage, many employers are willing to provide feedback on where you didn't meet their criteria. Ask for feedback as it's a valuable learning opportunity. If you feel there's a particular area where you could have performed better, you could even say this e.g. "I'm aware I could have given a stronger answer about xxx". This gives them permission to give more detail on how you could improve.

Rather than take the feedback personally, think of it as a development tool. Are there things you could do differently in future? Is there anything you need to learn more about e.g. the sector or industry? If it's more vague, or they say you weren't a good 'fit' for the employer, this is often about values, personality and ways of working. These are harder to adapt, however it doesn't mean you have failed. A different employer might be a perfect match for you - so reflect on what you're looking for, what your strengths are and whether these align with employers you are applying to.

Always seek to improve

Crafting good job applications, completing psychometric tests, performing at interviews and coming across well in assessment centres are all skills which can improve with practice. So take every opportunity to learn from experiences you have, whether they are in practice or a real selection process. With experience comes greater confidence, and practice in conveying your experience and motivation.

Do I need more experience?

For some roles, having relevant experience is important, or at least helpful. Even experience which is unrelated to the job can be useful in showing transferable skills, such as team work, communication skills and problem solving. If you don't have much experience on your CV and want to look for some, see our find a job section for ideas and advice.

Be analytical - what isn't going right?

If you find yourself repeatedly stopping at a specific point in the selection process, perhaps there's something you can do to improve in that area. Contact us to book a Careers Guidance appointment where we can explore this with you.

You only need 1 'yes'

Unlike when you're studying, and you need to pass every module to get a good grade in your degree, the job market works quite differently. Rejection from job applications is the norm. Around 80% of applicants fail at the first stage of CV or application form, but that doesn't mean those same 80% never succeed. They try again, and again, and eventually they do succeed. All it requires is for one employer to say 'yes'. So don't be afraid of rejections, they are just another sign that you're travelling toward the 'yes' that you're waiting for.

Try the following resources for more advice on dealing with setbacks:

Job application rejected