Rejection and Reflection: How to Use Feedback for Career Improvement

By Srikanth 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
artificial intelligence

Everyone knows the feeling: you apply for a job, hopeful that this will be the one, only to face disappointment when you receive yet another rejection. With the 2023 tech layoffs, finding a job is no easy task.

While you can’t control external factors like the economy, you can adjust the way you apply for jobs and present yourself and your skills in interviews. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback.

Without further ado, here’s how to use feedback for career improvement.


1.Ask for feedback

While it should be standard practice for companies to provide feedback to all candidates, many fail to do so, especially when rejecting candidates before the first round. It’s simply not feasible to write personalized rejection letters to thousands of applicants.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for feedback. As soon as you receive a rejection letter, politely request more detailed feedback from the recruiter.

Career experts on getting rejected suggest that if you explain how their feedback will help you improve your career, most recruiters will be willing to take a few minutes to provide a more detailed response.

If you’ve advanced to later rounds, you can even request a brief call for feedback. This will leave a very positive impression on the recruiter, and they will most certainly document it.

2.Don’t act defensive or lash out

Once you receive feedback from the recruiter, it’s important to maintain a professional and respectful demeanor. Avoid taking the feedback personally and lashing out, as this can indicate that you’re not open to feedback, which is generally seen as a negative trait.

Instead, show that you’re taking the feedback seriously and respecting their opinion, even if you may not fully agree with it. This approach demonstrates maturity and a willingness to learn and improve, which can leave a positive impression, especially if you consider reapplying to the same company in the future.

3.Process your emotions

The next step is to process your emotions. Some people find it easy to receive and process feedback, while others struggle more. Regardless, it’s important to recognize and accept your emotions.

Once you’ve accepted your emotions, you can ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Perhaps you genuinely wanted the job. Or maybe it’s because you believe they based their decision to hire someone else on incorrect conclusions about your experience or personal traits.

Either way, asking these questions is crucial not only for improving your technical skills but also for increasing your openness to feedback.

4.Interpret what you’ve been told and understand the ‘why’ behind it

The next step is to interpret what you’ve been told. Processing your emotions beforehand is crucial because you want to interpret what you’ve been told and not what you heard.

Our emotions can play little tricks on us and cloud our judgment. Even if the recruiter’s conclusion seems off, processing your emotions will help you interpret why they reached that conclusion.

For example, they might have felt you lacked team leadership experience because you didn’t include relevant information in your resume. Or they might have questioned your time management skills because your example wasn’t detailed enough, which could have made it seem less credible.

Remember, recruiters are not mind readers. They don’t know you personally. You could be the most qualified person for the job, but if you don’t give them information to support that, they won’t know.

5.Act on feedback

Before you reapply for the job, take action based on the feedback you received. Depending on the feedback, there may be different ways for you to improve.

Going back to the previous example – if your example of a situation requiring time management skills wasn’t detailed enough, prepare more detailed examples before your next interview.

Take your time to prepare for these questions. If they ask you for an example that is difficult to remember, ask them for a minute or two to think about it.

Also, it’s important to understand that addressing feedback may not always be immediate. If the feedback is related to your lack of experience in a specific area, gaining that experience will take time.

6.Reapply for the job

Finally, if you decide to reapply for the job, do so with confidence and the improvements you’ve made are based on the feedback. However, if you choose not to reapply, that’s perfectly fine too. You can use the feedback to enhance your applications for other job opportunities.

Finally, good luck with your job search!

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