I've been rejected from over 1,000 jobs throughout my career. The truth is I probably never heard back from about 85% of them. Do you really want to work for a company that leaves people hanging because they're too lazy to send an automated email back? You can't take it personally, you've just got to brush it off.
The truth is that I've never once stopped applying to jobs at any point in my career. In my opinion, without the incentive of pensions that pay out if you stay a number of years there is zero reason to be loyal to an organization. You should always have an idea of your open market value. In any given year, I am probably taking 6+ interviews to see if I am a fit and I can improve my career standing.
I failed my way to success - Thomas Edison
Getting Rejected Over 1,000 Times Forces You To Overcome the Fear of Failure
First off I graduated in 2008 from undergrad and 2009 from graduate school. Impressive to have a master's degree by 23 by any standard, but horrid timing in the market. Not only were companies tightening their belts, but now you were competing with the people who were cut by companies earlier in the year. I bet I pumped out 300-400 applications, took 10-15 preliminary interviews and 3-4 final interviews before I landed my internship in Cocoa, FL working at a sport complex. The first couple of months is rough, but the sooner you realize that you are getting better at the process of applying the more you'll get out of it. If you can get over the fear of failure you'll go far in your career.
Apply to the Jobs That Interest You, Not the Ones That Pay the Highest
I've made this mistake multiple times over my life. In a few instances I didn't do a good job of reading the job description and comprehending what the position really entails. When I get to the interview the job sound dreadfully boring and not motivating in the least. Even though the pay is great, I would dread going to the job every day. Walk away from these opportunities as fast as you can. The ideal situation is a position that makes you happy and pays the bills. It's harder to find than you may think.
Create a Market For Yourself
When you apply to that many jobs you start to create a market for yourself. What is interesting is that you won't have anyone call you for weeks, but then out of the blue three or four businesses will contact you in a week to set up phone interviews. Use these opportunities to learn the ins and out of the company you'll be talking to and have answers for your experience as it relates to the job listing. Give them two to three things you bring to the table that they might not have in-house already or improves their operations.
It Helps To Be Local
This has probably worked more against me than for me, as I've always lived in small cities. Companies prefer someone that doesn't take travel logistics for them to interview and can come right in and work. When you're someone coming from far away you have to be really good in the interview and head over heels better than any of the other candidates. It is very possible to do this by coming in really prepared for the interview, but.....
Go Into the Interview With the Attitude That You Want the Job, But You Don't Need the Job
You don't want to go into the interview desperate for the position. Come in prepared to answer questions, offer solutions to problems you perceive and let them know everything you bring to the table. You shouldn't leave the interview kicking yourself that you should have told them about this skill or that certification. Go beyond the resume you sent in. That earned you the first date, so sell yourself to get a second date. Much like the dating scene you don't want to seem desperate, because that will put the other party off. Act like you want to be there and have things move forward, but act as if it isn't your only opportunity.
Knowing Someone Gets You an Interview, But Not the Job
I've been on both sides of this. Getting an interview because I knew someone/someones on the team hiring and also getting an interview for someone. This only gets you as far as the door and the chance to interview.
I've gotten several interviews over the years because I know someone on the hiring team, but I still need to perform well in the initial interview to move forward. You should absolutely take these seriously, because your friend/peer is putting their credibility on the line.
Companies Want the Internal Candidate To Get the Job
I've been on the short end of this stick several times over the years. You either take the call or find out later that there was a preferred internal candidate, but they needed to do their due diligence and interview external candidates. This blows, but put yourself in their shoes. If someone you've worked with for probably years wants a new position and you know they are reliable, why go with an unknown?
Work On the Commonalities in the Job Descriptions
Over time you're going to see common themes or skills in the positions you are applying for. It could be specific software programs, general concepts like CRM management, soft skills like public speaking or a host of others. Write down what you're commonly seeing in the posts and go to work trying to improve upon those skills. From there build examples for potential employers that leave them impressed and with zero doubt of your capabilities to handle said position.
Never Get Down On Yourself
When it comes down to job applications you will always fail more than you succeed. The thing to take from it is getting comfortable with the lessons you learn from applying, interviewing and developing contacts. Just keep building your work portfolio and making your case stronger. Work on projects, gain skills, grow those skills, build contacts and keep plugging away. You never know what will come your way.
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.