3 Reasons Job Rejection Isn’t Always About You

Sometimes, even a great candidate doesn’t make the cut.

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Alison Green
If you're not getting rejections in this job market, you're either not applying for very many jobs or you have some incredible luck. Even really great candidates get rejected, often multiple times.

But how can you keep from getting discouraged when you're not getting interviews or job offers? After all, the tendency when you get rejected for a job is to feel that you failed. But more often than not, that's not what it indicates at all.

[See The Best Jobs of 2012.]

More commonly, it's about one of these factors:

1. Math. Very often, there's just one opening and multiple great candidates applying for it. The numbers just aren't in your favor when that happens. In this economy especially, hiring managers are flooded with highly qualified candidates for almost any position advertised. You might be a fantastic candidate who interviewed impressively, but if someone else fits that description and there's only one open slot, you might be the one who gets rejected. But remember, many times, an employer would happily hire plenty of candidates who they end up having to reject for lack of slots.

2. The boss or culture. The hiring manager might know something you don't about this job that is totally unrelated to your qualifications. Because it's not just a question of whether you have the skills to do the job, it's also a question of fitting this particular position, with this particular boss, in this particular culture, and in this particular company. And no matter your working style, there's an organization or boss with whom you would clash. Often, one personality type will simply fit better into a team than another, and that's the kind of thing that's very difficult (if not impossible) for a candidate to know.

[See 10 Signs Your Interviewer Just Isn't That Into You.]

3. Hiring isn't an exact science. Hiring managers aren't perfect. We do our best with the limited information we have, but it's not a perfect process.

So, you shouldn't take a rejection as a measure of your worth. Very often, it's no reflection on your worth at all.

It's also essential not to let it get you down, because if you're bitter or fatalistic, it'll show when you talk to employers. And you definitely want to make sure that you don't react angrily to a rejection, such as sending an angry or bitter email to the employer, or trying to debate the decision.

You can, however, politely ask for feedback, which might help you in your search going forward. And you can even stay in touch with that hiring manager, making her part of your network like you would with any other professional contact.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

Twitter: @AskAManager