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Job rejections are soul-crushing, but we’re all in this together

By Lucas Oakeley


Because the one thing you should never do when hunting for a job is take rejection too personally.

"Go to university,” they said. “It’ll be great,” they said. “You’ll be super employable,” they said. As a recent university graduate, I feel that it’s my duty to tell you something, and that something is this: ‘they’ are full of shit.


Yes, university is great and can provide a fantastic opportunity for you to become a well-rounded person with more nuanced interests. You can meet people from all different walks of life (provided those walks are in the vicinity of Surrey). You can even develop the uncanny ability to strawpedo a VK in under 20 seconds. But along with these wonderful experiences comes a hell of a lot of pressure. And a hell of a lot of debt.


Coming out of university is like being thrown into the deep-end of the swimming pool without any arm bands. While a degree is supposed to help prepare you for the “real world”, a lot of the life-skills necessary to navigate the employment market are neglected in the whole 'teaching and learning' bit of university experience. Skills like how to write an invoice, how to file your taxes, or even just learning professional email etiquette. The number of useful skills you glean will, of course, vary depending on what you studied. However, I can guarantee there’s not a degree in the world that will be able to prepare you for the soul-crushing reality of job applications.


So, I’m going to try and help you out with that. Here are some things, my dear sweet innocent postgraduate, that are inevitably going to happen to you:


  • You will apply for your dream job, brimming with hope.

  • You will run through countless scenarios in your head about how fabulous your future career will be.

  • You will fantasize about all the sorts of clothes you’re going to have to buy for your new gig and “oh my goodness, whatever will you wear to the Christmas party?”

  • You will start looking at eye-wateringly expensive studio flats nestled only a brisk 15-minute walk from the office.

  • You will check your e-mail at every waking moment.

  • You will never hear back from the company.

  • You will cry.

  • You will comfort-eat an entire packet of chocolate digestives.

  • You will eventually muster up the courage to look at a few more job listings.

  • You will then, as if by some sort of divine intervention, find a new dream job to apply for. One that looks even better than the last!

  • Rinse and repeat.


This cycle of application/rejection is, unfortunately, the case for a lot of people I know. Myself included. It can go on for months, years, even, for the unluckier ones. And the best advice I can give to someone who finds themselves in a similar predicament is to realise exactly this - that you're in a similar predicament to thousands of others. That you’re not alone. That most of us have left uni and are out there going through the exact same experience. That it’s all going to be okay, mate.


It can sometimes feel as if you’re being singled out by the entire universe, targeted as the butt of some cosmic karmic joke because – I don’t know – maybe you used to steal an obscene amount of stationary in primary school. But you’re not. And you need to remember that. Because the one thing you should never do when hunting for a job is take rejection too personally. You can’t take every set-back you face as a personal affront. There’s no massive conspiracy out there to make sure you stay unemployed. “The man” isn’t trying to hold you down. (Unless, of course, you’re referring to the trenchant injustice of the patriarchy, in which case, he sadly might well be.)

A lot of finding the right job is simply being in the right place, at the right time. So, it might feel like the world is ending but, trust me, all you’ve got to do is keep on trucking, apply for as many things as possible, for as long as it takes, and have a little faith that your time will come, too. Hopefully before next month’s rent is due.

Image by Catherine Scrivener

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