Job search is a beast. It is a phase in our lives that is harder than most of us want to admit. It takes immense emotional strength, resilience, persistence, and even creativity to succeed in the endeavor of pursuing a new job, especially one that you end up enjoying.

Luckily, through my years of career coaching, I’m here to tell you how your job rejections can actually be a source of learning so you can strengthen your job search strategy and outcomes.

Think of job searching like a funnel. Depending on the point in the process where you’re seeing less optimal results, it can actually tell you a lot about how to improve.

Are you uncovering enough open opportunities?

Your first “job” in job searching is to uncover active, open roles. If you’re not finding out about any open roles, it is possible you’re relying too heavily on the online job boards.

Don’t sleep on the fact that 70-80% of jobs are landed through networking and that a large portion of open roles are not always posted online.

Be sure to find the right guidance, coaching or mentorship to understand how to network effectively and strategically to identify open roles.

Are you struggling to land first-round interviews? 

It is possible that either:

You are relying too heavily on the online job boards.

Networking can be a way to ‘get your foot in the door’ whereby an informational chat can lead to an internal referral and a first-round interview.

This allows you to be recognized as a candidate and not just an online application.

You may be applying to roles that are not the best fit for you.

If you’re applying online and your resume is being referred internally but you still don’t see any first-round bites, reflect on the level of role, the type of role, whether you need some upskilling, and how well your materials and personal branding aligns with your direction.

Are you landing interviews but not final rounds? 

Usually, these early screening rounds are a core assessment for your fit for the role. This could be a telltale sign that you’re applying to too great a variety of roles and that you’re not sure which is the best fit for you.

Or that you’re not clear enough in your explanation as to why they should be sure you would excel in that role. Consider pursuing career exploration to clarify your best fit role.

Are you landing final round interviews but not landing offers? 

Succeeding in Interview Projects & Presentations:

If you’re being given case studies, projects, challenges, presentations, etc. and you aren’t moving past these, consider whether the role you’re applying for is something you’re naturally aligned with and feel strong at doing.

  • Do you have a strong understanding of what the role requires and entails?
  • Can you present how you would handle this work in a way that proves that either you have handled similar challenges in prior roles or that your strengths, tendencies and inclinations make you a natural candidate who would excel at handling those specific types of challenges?
  • Do you need to pursue a course or certification to strengthen and develop relevant skills? Or are you pursuing a path that isn’t the best fit for you?

Interview Practice:

Another consideration at this stage could be how you show up in interviews, i.e. answering questions in a way that is succinct and structured, choosing relevant stories to tell, having an energized tone and demeanor, having professional body language, building rapport with the interviewer, and more.

Interview practice is extremely underrated as a beneficial tool to help you succeed once you show up for that interview.

Find Culture Fit:

Remember that interviews are about assessing your skills and potential but also your culture fit. Try to proactively identify companies that align with your values and personality.

Try to make your interview as comfortable, natural, enjoyable, conversational, and fun as possible.

Prove your genuine interest in the role and company through your energy, but also let them get to know you as a person. Smile!

Do you believe you?:

At every stage, consider whether your story makes sense for why you want this role and why you genuinely believe you would excel and thrive in the role.

If you don’t understand the role’s expectations or genuinely believe that you would excel in it, why should anyone else?  Career exploration can clarify the right direction.

What feedback are you hearing or feeling?

You should always ask for feedback from interviewers but even if they don’t share it with you, your self-awareness and reflections are more than sufficient for you to know what you can do better next time.

After every interview, allow yourself to reflect on what you did well and what you can improve (i.e. how you target roles and companies, how you prepare, how you communicate, etc).

Know that things are sometimes outside of your control. 

If you’re genuinely applying to the right types of roles and companies, you have the skills to thrive in that role, the companies are a culture fit for you, and you are clearly and convincingly articulating why you are the best fit — Then just know that as long as you genuinely believe you are on the right path, you will find the right fit in a matter of time.

But if any of these pieces feel out of place, remember to reflect and act on whichever area of your approach can be improved in order to more efficiently land a fitting role.

Rachel Serwetz

Rachel Serwetz worked in HR at Goldman Sachs and Bridgewater Associates before pursuing coaching, training and certification. She is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a career coach through the Flatiron School/WeWork, Columbia University and Project Activate. Her company, WOKEN, focuses on teaching professionals strategies and processes to determine their optimal career pathways.