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Artwork by Taleen Keldjian

Ask M+P: Rejection

Written By Katy Byrtus | Nov 30, 2022

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Welcome to Ask M+P, an advice column for creative professionals (and all professionals!)! Our Recruiter Katy has thoughts. C’mon, it’ll be fun! (have a question? ask us!)

I keep getting rejected from jobs; what the hell do I do?

As a recruiter, we often become a sounding board and counselor to our candidates. It’s a tough market and we know this – we feel it too! I hope through my experience, I can offer some insight to job seekers over the holiday season.

The biggest piece of advice is to not take it personally. I know, I know, easy for me to say – but we’ve all been there, even me! We’ve all spent hours pouring over job ads, customizing resumes and cover letters, just to hear nothing back.

Here’s the thing: the systemic lack of response has very little to do with you as an individual or an employee, and everything to do with the brokenness of hiring. Human Resources – and therefore recruiting – was created in the early 1900s (at least in the US) as a response to workers trying to gain power in the employment relationship, unions being created, and walkouts being organized. It was created to keep watch, not to call people in.

Knowing that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to be passed over or not even considered for jobs you’ve worked hard to apply to, but it hopefully reminds you that it’s not a personal failing or any sort of lack on your part. It’s just the way it is these days.

Basically, the employment system wasn’t created to be an inclusive and feel-good experience. Knowing these things might help us feel less isolated in the sea of job search and rejection.

Here are some other things to consider:

  1. Don’t invest in any application more than another – apply, record it, and forget it. Then if you get a response, you’re pleasantly surprised.
  2. If someone ghosts you, take it as a sign that you don’t want to work there. Seriously.
  3. Don’t forget that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Be as critical as they are to help you make your decision.
  4. Holiday season is typically a slow season for hiring. Folks are on vacation and decisions will wait if they can for the new year. Hang tight, things will pick back up.

Ways to combat the abyss of online applications and impersonal e-mail rejections:

  1. Networking! Events are back, get out from behind your computer and go meet folks if you can! Make sure you are seeking out events that aren’t all filled with job seekers – find industry events and member organizations to participate in.
  2. Informational Interviewing. People generally enjoy talking about themselves. Have a company in mind? Start reaching out to folks to create connections there (and never ask for the job during these conversations).
  3. Take a break and practice self-compassion and self-care.
  4. Consider some short-term, contract, or project roles to get your creative brain working again. (hey! we have those!)

In short, create your team of job search cheerleaders and use them for support along the way. Don’t get trapped behind your computer submitting applications to the abyss. And set it and forget it so you can keep moving forward with other endeavors.

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