How Many Job Rejections Are Normal? (And How To Respond)

Updated January 30, 2023

A crowd of people is seen walking as one in the same direction.

When you apply for a job, it's possible that the employer may choose another candidate for the position, but you can still aim to pursue other roles that interest you in the future. Facing some level of rejection is normal during a job search, and learning from your experiences can enable you to impress hiring managers during your next pursuit. Understanding how to respond when prospective employers select different candidates can also allow you to remain positive and confident in your credentials as you continue your job search.

In this article, we discuss job rejections and the factors to consider when applying to new employment opportunities, plus review steps you can take when planning what job you want to apply to next.

How many job rejections are normal when searching for a new job?

There's not a set number of rejections you can expect to face when applying for a new position. There are many factors that can impact how likely you are to be successful when seeking new employment, and it's important to understand how these factors can impact the responses you receive from hiring managers. Important considerations when applying for jobs and receiving rejection include:

  • Job market: The overall state of the job market when you're applying for new positions can have a significant impact on the number of rejections before you receive a job offer. Note that in a market where there are high numbers of candidates applying for each position, it can be more challenging to differentiate yourself from competing candidates.

  • Industry's competitiveness: Every industry also has its own unique circumstances. Understanding how competitive your industry is can help you have a more realistic expectation of the challenge of finding a position that aligns with your career goals.

  • Potential career progression: Whether the job you're seeking represents a promotion from your current position or a lateral move can impact how many jobs you can expect to apply to before an employer selects you.

  • Required qualifications: Your professional experience, formal education and skills are all considerations when applying for work. If you're seeking a new role that you believe you can excel in, but you're still developing the more traditional qualifications, you may apply for more opportunities to find an employer who shares your belief in your capabilities.

  • Number of rejections you're willing to receive: If you apply to all positions that interest you, even those you have a low likelihood of being hired for, you may increase the number of rejections you receive, but you may also increase the opportunities for an employer to hire you for an ambitious position.

Related: How To Respond to a Job Rejection Email (With Examples)

How to handle job rejections

 Follow these steps to prepare yourself if a company hires another candidate:

1. Assess your qualifications

Having an honest assessment of your qualifications for the position you apply to is important to prepare yourself realistically. Understanding whether you're a strong match for the position on paper, or if the job opportunity represents an ambitious application, can give you more accurate expectations of your chances of earning the position. This can help to make it easier to accept the results of your job application, even if the company decides to hire a different candidate.

Related: How To Write a Self Assessment

2. Examine the state of competition

Just as it's important to understand how your qualifications align with the expectations of a hiring manager, it can also be beneficial to consider competing candidates for the position. If the field you applied to is currently undergoing a competitive job market, you're more likely to be applying for a position that has many other candidates.

You may also face increased competition when applying for a company with high appeal to potential candidates. A more competitive position means an increase in the potential for rejection when seeking a job.

Related: How To Build Self-Confidence in 7 Steps

3. Prepare yourself emotionally

When applying for work, it's important to be able to remain calm and avoid allowing your emotions to dictate your job search. Prepare yourself in advance for the possibility that a position at another company may be a better fit for you. Understanding the parts of the hiring process can make it easier to remain positive in your job search as you plan to pursue more opportunities in your field.

Related: What Is a Rejection Letter? (With Examples)

4. Consider the benefits

Although being rejected for a potential position may not feel like a positive occurrence, it's important to remember the benefits it can imply. You can only earn a position if you apply for it, which means you increase your opportunity for success by applying for more jobs. Remember that your pursuit of a job, regardless of the outcome, represents that you've made the effort to seek a position and that continuing to do so can provide rewards to your career.

Related: What To Do If You Didn't Get the Job

5. Analyze your performance

Every job application for a position you don't earn is also a learning opportunity for how to improve in the future. Examine which stage of the application process you made it to in order to analyze what you believe you may have done better at that stage to have made a stronger impression. Although you may not always find changes to make, as you may simply have applied to a very competitive position, you may be able to identify areas for improvement that can increase your chances of earning the next job for which you apply.

Related: 12 Tips for Managing Job Rejections

6. Seek outside advice

One of the most effective ways to improve your performance in the professional world is by following outside advice. Seeking the opinion of someone you trust can help you improve your application process. This may include allowing a professional acquaintance to examine your resume or cover letter to offer suggestions or working with a partner to practice interview questions. Working with people to assess your application may further enhance your ability to improve in the future.

Related: Job Interview: Practicing Your Answers and Presentation

7. Make changes to applications

Using the information you gained from your self-assessment and working with a partner, you can make changes to your approach when seeking new positions. Updating your resume to improve the focus on your most relevant and positive skills or experience can help you make a stronger impression on the hiring manager reading it.

Taking part in practice interviews may help you feel more comfortable during an actual interview, allowing you to offer stronger responses. This may help you present yourself as a more appealing candidate for open positions and improve your chances of being hired with each application.

Related: Guide To Updating Your Resume

8. Look forward to the future

When applying for jobs, it's important to stay positive as you plan which job you want to pursue next. After you've finished assessing a previous interview to identify elements you can learn and improve from, focus on the next position. Thinking about the positions you may still earn can help you stay motivated to impress a prospective employer.

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