If we go by what our parents told us: “No means no”, but in the tiresome job hunt, things aren’t so clear cut. Like anyone else trying to get their foot on the career ladder, we can all admit to the gutting feeling of rejection. It sucks. And although you might feel everyone else is getting ahead, trust us they’ve been through it, too.

But in some cases, getting the big fat ‘No’ might not be as definite as you think. We’re not telling you that when you get rejected from a position you still always have a chance of getting it, but sometimes not giving up on a role after a rejection can work out. No, seriously.


Lewis Fantom: Analytics Assistant

Lewis applied for a Graduate Analytics Assistant position and made it to the assessment day. “The day went extremely well,” Lewis told us. “I was well prepared, in the right mindset, and they seemed really interested in me.”

Two days later he received the disappointing phone call: “They said I had really impressed them, but lacked certain qualities others were better at, and they’d keep me on file.”

Lewis was absolutely gutted, and didn’t want to let that be the end. “Something didn’t seem right; they said I did well with HR, but my presentation lacked knowledge. I was told I didn’t have to be an expert, leading me to think I wasn’t a natural at presentations. The fact that is all they were basing their decision on was what I couldn’t accept.”

Lewis called reception on a Monday morning and arranged a meeting with the manager for later that day. “When we met, I made it clear I wasn’t there to ask for the job, but just to understand why I didn’t get it. He went through all the good points and bad points and I said why it seemed like the perfect place for me to achieve my goal.”

Lewis left the interview and 20 minutes later received an email asking if he was available to start on September 1st: “I like the persistence. By going the extra mile I think you’ve created your own opportunity and deserve the chance to prove what you can do,” his new manager explained.

“The next day I got a call from HR confirming the offer. I was thrilled and over the moon, and I would have much rather have got the job that way than any other way.”


Leanne Packham: Probation Service Officer

Leanne studied Criminology and Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, and applied for the Graduate Training Programme with the Probation Service.

“The first time I applied I reached the assessment day, and that involved two tests which I failed to pass. I was really disappointed. It was a role in which I could see myself developing a career, and I had worked hard with a second job to gain the additional experience needed.”

Leanne requested feedback but was told that it was only given if she had failed the interview stage. “This was difficult because I was not aware which of the two tests I failed, and knew I needed to prepare more for both of them next time.”

Six months later, the job was advertised again: “I reapplied, and when I received the news I had got through to the assessment day, I prepared a lot more for the two tests I had done previously. I completed verbal reasoning tests online and researched top tips for writing the persuasive letter.”

Leanne was thrilled the second time round when she reached the interview stage, and was successful: “I had prepared much more thoroughly the second time round and ensured I researched the service  and tailored my answers to reflect this.”


Phoebe Dixon: Creative Executive

Getting to the final stage of the interview process is always exciting, but equally gutting when you don’t get the job. Phoebe was keen to pursue a career in the media industry. She passed her initial interview with flying colours, and reached the second interview where she had to work on a brief for one of their clients.

“It all sounded really promising and they seemed to like me, but I got the call to tell me they weren’t going to offer me the job. I was really upset, but they said they would keep my details if anything in the future came up.”

Phoebe chose to go travelling for a month to Southeast Asia, and while out there she received an email from the company saying they were still interested and wanted to offer her the job.

“Having talked to them since I’ve started, I think it was because they genuinely did see something in me and really liked the potential I showed that they got back in touch. They wanted to expand the creative team I now work in, and remembered my interview.”

Discussing advice for those who are waiting to hear back from an interview, Phoebe said an email a couple of days after is a great way to keep your name present in their minds. “If you do end up getting rejected, see it all as great experience. It’s business and dealing with it gracefully will set you up much better for the future.”

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Dealing with rejection, as told by World Cup teams

Five rejection letters that prove you shouldn’t quit

How to handle rejection from that job you really, really want