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Feb 05 2018
by Sarah Shih

7 Job-Hunting Lessons I Learned After 20 Job Rejections

By Sarah Shih - Feb 05 2018
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Part-time jobs are one of the most universal experiences throughout high school and universitystudents take part in this extracurricular activity both to financially support themselves and to gain experiences. I was no exception. As my friends started to submit their resume to establishments that provide opportunities for part-time jobs, I started to think about joining them and expanding my experiences beyond volunteer activities. A job search soon started as I printed off copies of resume and looked for hiring signs around me.

While I didn't start too late, I still ended up being the last in my friend group to actually find a job. Many places I applied to simply never gave me an answer, and even the ones where I got to the interview stage ended in complete and utter silence as well. I started to submit my resume everywhere I went, not really caring about the content of the job and wanting to get a job just for the sake of having one. Twenty job applications later, I finally landed a job in the most anticlimactic ways: no submitting resume beforehand nor an interview, just a self-introduction to the manager, and before the chat ended, she declared that I was hired.

Now that a lot of companies and organizations have opened up postings for summer jobs and internships as well as volunteer opportunities, I couldn't help but reflect on the frenzy I went through two years ago. After numerous talks with people around me, I looked back and realized a lot of things I could have done. Here is a list of what I have learned after numerous rejections.

1. Be more proactive.

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Two years ago, I thought simply submitting the resume was sufficient. What I didn't realize was that I could have used the chance to market myself better, to really introduce myself to the manager and leave an impression. After all, it is easy for all the resumes they get to blend in together, but if you attempt to stand out by talking to management, they are more likely to remember youyour demeanor, your attitude and all the good attributes you want to show about yourselfnot just another name in the pile of resumes.

2. Always give a follow-up after interviews.

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I had an interview with a frozen yogurt place that I was excited to work for. Not only was the interview the first I had in a really long time, I also felt really confident about it after it took place. I never heard back from the place again though, despite the fact that I was told the decision process would take around a week. It wasn't until an interview workshop that I went to later when I learned how important it is to give the manager a follow-up, simply to thank them for offering the interview to make sure your good impression last. There could be many interviews going on during the period if the organization is really looking to hire people so be sure to give them one more chance to remember you by giving a call or an email to thank them.

3. Find out if there's any other prerequisite not written in the job postings.

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For some of the opportunities I applied to I didn't necessarily get rejected, though I did end up getting phone calls from them telling me that they are only interested in hiring university students, not high school students. While this isn't the same as being straight-up rejected because they don't think you have the ability, it's still not a situation you'd like to be in when you really want a job. So before you apply for a job, be sure to know if there are any restrictions, such as if they are only hiring full-time or students who have graduated.

4. Ask how you can improve when you get rejected.

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One opportunity I didn't utilize was to ask how I could improve when I was rejected from a few opportunities. Maybe asking for feedback won't necessarily undo their decision, but it is a useful way to get an opinion from another set of eyes as a way to improve; it also saves you from a lot of sleepless nights where you are asking yourself what you have done wrong. Some people also suggest asking if the employers have any reservations about hiring you near the end of the interview as a way to address their concerns and just earn more suggestions for the future in general. Rejections always hurt, but knowing what can not only prepare you for the future, but also stop you from coming up with thousands of scenarios and berating yourself.

5. A phone call before you go in to submit resume is always helpful. 

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While any employee would be happy to take your resume from you and give it to management, directly giving it to their manager can be even better since you can directly present yourself to the person who will make the hiring decision. This is why it's a good idea to call and ask if the manager is available on the day for you to drop off your resume and introduce yourself a bit. This way the manager will already have an impression of you before you arrive, and it again allows you to stand out from the pile of resumes lying on the manager's table.

6. Don't apply for a job for the sake of having a job.

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Yes, the part-time job experience is amazing because it builds your character in many ways: you learn to deal with pressure, and you earn communications and interpersonal skills that will be valuable in future job experiences. But don't just blindly apply to every single opportunity. I submitted my resumes to any place that has a Hiring sign posted, and it wasn't until when my mother asked me if I would want to work at any of those places if they were to hire me when I started to reflect if I have overdone it. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying out a different job is great, but if you know for sure you will hate it, don't apply to it simply for the sake of it.

7. Don't compare your progress to others.

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I asked other people a lot about their job hunt as well, and over time I developed this terrible mindset of comparing myself to other people if they ended up landing a job before I did. What was I doing wrong? Were they somehow more qualified than me? There will never be an answer to any of these questions. Questioning yourself like this will only lead to even more discouragement, not improvement. Don't be so quick to berate yourself; allow yourself to reflect and be sad for a while before you start moving again. Things like this happen, but remember: being accepted later is by no means discounting your ability and competence! A different place might just happen to think you're the perfect candidate for them.

Part-time jobs prepare us for real life in a different way than the school does. They allow us to take on responsibility and learn how to solve problems, and they also build up our resume for future job opportunities. They aren't always easy to find, however, and I learned it the hard way through 20 rejections from different places. However, I also learned the importance of being more proactive, as well as how to deal with the discouragement through this process. With the opportunities for summer volunteer and internships this year coming up, I truly can't wait to apply what I have learned and have a better job hunt this time.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Sarah Shih - University of Western Ontario

Sarah is a First Year student attending the University of Western Ontario studying Psychology. In her free time, she can be seen reading or writing. If she is silent during a conversation, she is most likely plotting for her next article or the next chapter in her novel.

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