5 tips for dealing with rejection

As the milk-round draws to a close, it is the time of year when a select few candidates will be receiving Vacation Scheme or Training Contract offers from their chosen firms. For those who were unfortunately unsuccessful this application season, here are 5 tips for dealing with rejections from law firms:

1. Acceptance 

In a competitive job market such as commercial law, there may be tens of applicants for a single vacancy. Rejection is therefore inevitable. Upon receiving a rejection, it is natural to feel disappointed, and you may need to take some time out to process the rejection. 

However, it is important to maintain perspective.

Receiving a rejection does not mean you are not ‘good enough’; it simply means that right now, you may not be the right fit for that firm. In fact, even candidates who are fortunate enough to receive several offers will have been rejected at some point. Accepting that rejection is part of the application process can help you to deal with rejection more constructively. 

2. Seek feedback 

Feedback enables you to identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Perhaps you need to work on your commercial awareness. Alternatively, you may need to accumulate more experience, so that you can better evidence your transferrable skills, or articulate your career motivations.

If you have been rejected after interviewing with a firm, you may be able to arrange a feedback call with a member of their Graduate Recruitment team. However, if you received a rejection at the written application stage, it is unlikely a firm will offer feedback, given the high volume of applications firms invariably receive. In this instance, I would suggest reaching out to offer holders or trainees in your network and asking them for ideas on how to improve. You could also speak with your university careers centre. 

When receiving constructive feedback, try to be receptive and polite, rather than defensive and emotional. Remember: the person offering feedback is taking time out of their day to help you! I would also advise taking notes and keeping hold of these for when you complete your next set of applications. 

3. Engage with feedback

Actively engage with feedback by creating an action plan based on any identified areas for improvement. For example, I received feedback that needed to improve my attention to detail on my written applications. My action plan therefore consisted of: 

  • completing my final draft;
  • leaving the application for 72 hours; and 
  • printing and proof-reading it one last time before submission. 

Click here for some tips on improving your commercial awareness, and here for some inspiration on how to boost your CV during the COVID-19 era, if these are areas that you would like to work on.

4. Celebrate the small wins 

Since receiving a Training Contract offer is often the ‘end goal’ for many candidates, feelings of failure may creep in for those who have yet to reach this, even if they have progressed through various stages of the application process. During such a rigorous process, I would advise candidates to treat each time they progress through a stage of an application process as a form of success. Whether you are invited to take a Watson Glaser test, video interview or assessment centre, you are one step closer to achieving your goal!

5. Persevere 

Whilst dealing with rejection is by no means easy, do not let rejection stop you from pursuing your career goals. As cliché as it sounds, rejection is re-direction. With hard work, resilience and determination, what started as ambition can become reality.

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