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Life after the job: rejection doesn't mean failure!

Don't take rejection in the job market personally as there may be factors outside your control argues Andy Labrum.

Life after the job: rejection doesn't mean failure!

Date - 10th January 2022
By - Andy Labrum
4 Comments 4 Comments}

If you've applied for roles this year and been turned down, it can really impact you. It’s stressful, your confidence takes a knock and you question why you're putting yourself through it. 

Unfortunately, rejection has to be (for most of us), part of the process. In the same way that when you get offered that new role, someone else will receive the message that on this occasion, they weren't the right candidate.

After a few years in a couple of permanent roles in project management and business change, I decided to go freelance as an IT Business Change Manager and because it was contract based, I interviewed regularly for new roles. I also put myself through the interview process to stay sharp and current and be in the best position to support and advise others, and it means I’m talking from personal experience, rather than theory.

The contract for the role I was in had been extended but I'd had the offer of a new role starting in September with an IT consultancy (after 2 interviews) and at the same time, I interviewed for a role with a rival consultancy, both of whom approached me through LinkedIn. 

I was told by the IT Consultancy that I'd hear by the end of the week and didn't hear anything so I politely followed up. I then received a message saying I was their preferred candidate after interviewing all candidates but it needed to go via their MD as they were considering offering permanent positions only. Because I'm freelance, I get paid on a day rate and I really enjoy contracting and the flexibility it offers. I received a call a short time later to say they were offering the role to a candidate who was willing to take a permanent position and that was that.

Soon after I went freelance, I interviewed for a role with Barclays at their head office in Canary Wharf. That was a proper pinch yourself moment but I didn't get it. I apparently interviewed well, and came second but just missed out, but I lost out to someone who'd worked in the banking sector previously.

The point I'm making is that, on many occasions, you'll do really well, give a great account of yourself and tick all the boxes for them, but there are things going on in the background, such as financial pressures, a restructure, office politics, or you could be up against a candidate who has the edge on you with technical knowledge, or a bit more relevant experience and they get the offer and you get the knock-back. 

It's really important to understand that you just don't know who you're up against or what's going on within a particular organisation, but it's not personal and it's not some sort of personality flaw or failing. It's just the circumstances, but please know that if you're doing all the right things, that offer will come and it'll be for the role that you're best suited for. 

If you're consistently doing the following, success will happen for you:

  • Identify the types of roles that are going to tick the boxes for you and give you that sense of purpose
  • Review the job spec in detail and highlight words that are repeated or stand out
  • Tweak your CV to match those keywords
  • Identify the recruiter and make contact and ask a good question or two to help you stand out from the crowd
  • Before interview, review the job spec again and think about what behaviours or values they could ask questions about.
  • Have your responses sorted (in a structured format.. I don’t teach STAR, although it can work),  and have your post interview questions ready and think, achievements and delivery. Where have you made a difference? What are you most proud of?
  • Research the organisation, but only after you’ve prepped your answers.
  • Get your head in the right place. Be cool, calm, confident, relaxed
  • Look smart. Be the best dressed in the room regardless of whether the interview is virtual or in person
  • For virtual interviews, have notes everywhere. (Bullet points are best) or a take a notebook in with you when you're face to face.. yes it’s allowed and you won’t be marked down,
  • Be delivery/achievement focussed and talk about 'I' not 'we.'
  • Smile and be confident right at the start and throughout
  • Have a couple of well thought out questions to ask at the end
  • Within 24 hours, send the interviewers a quick email thanking them for the opportunity
  • Keep looking and applying for roles. Until you get that formal offer, anything can happen, so don't stop applying.

It’s really tough and very hard not to take rejection personally, but we are playing the numbers game. We learn from our knock-backs AND successes. What responses worked well and what didn't go quite so smoothly. What could you change for next time?

I cover the interview prep process in much more detail in episode 42 of the Blue Light Leavers podcast called ‘How to Really Stand Out in Interview.’ If you’ve an interview coming up, I promise, it’ll really help. If you need some 1-2-1 support and guidance, fill in the form below and head to the services page of the website and you can book some time there.

Whatever you have planned, whether working, staying at home, or visiting loved ones, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I hope 2022 is a stellar year for you.

After successfully transitioning from policing to a new career in Project Management, Andy moved into Organisational Change Management, then went freelance and moved into IT and has worked for a number of organisations, and alongside numerous consultancies and global organisations, including Microsoft.

He is currently the Platform Lead for Modern Workplace technology for ASOS, a global online fashion and cosmetics retailer, with a turnover of over £3 billion pounds.

Andy has helped many Police, staff and other emergency service professionals, find new roles and careers after policing, as can be seen in the video and written testimonials on Blue Light Leavers which can all be accessed via


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Ordered by:
Springbok223 - Wed, 12 January 2022

A lot is 'who you know' rather than 'what you know', and don't be fooled in to thinking that doesn't happen these days. We all know it DOES, especially in the police force. We all know people who should never have been promoted, and those that definately should have been. The Bosses favorite always gets promoted whether worth it or not.