How To Handle Job Rejections As An International Student

Graduate jobs

June 04, 2020

As an international student in the UK, the number of opportunities available to you are limited. The employer should be able to sponsor your work permit Tier 2 Visa. At the same time, the job should fulfil certain requirements like minimum salary,  NQF skill level and other parameters we have discussed before. Therefore, the vacancies open to you are limited and by extension, extremely competitive to get into. 


Keeping this in mind, it is likely that you may not be able to bag the first job that you apply for. You will learn along the way by applying to multiple places, work on the shortcomings and prepare for all scenarios before you finally land a job. Having said that, rejections can still hurt. Missing out on a graduate scheme in a company and field of your interest can be devastating, especially as an international student on a time crunch. It is okay to take some time and console yourself, but it is even more important to work on the gaps and march into the battleground with evermore gusto and preparation. 


This is our guide to handling professional rejections at any stage during the hiring process:


Rule 1: Remember, rejection is just redirection


No one has a squeaky clean record. The best of professionals face rejections. Anooshka Pathak, an alumni of the University of Leeds bagged a job at Rolls-Royce eventually, but not before her fair share of rejections. She shares her experience with Student Circus:

I knew this from my experience in the placement year that it was next to impossible to get a job immediately without going through rejections. Some of the rejection letters I got said that it was because I was an international student, and they couldn't sponsor  Tier-2 Visa going forward, so they didn't really want to invest in a student who may not be able to convert the opportunity.

The point is that rejection can pinch really hard, especially when it had nothing to do with your skills — or lack of them. But rejection is a part and parcel of the hiring process. To be able to rationalise a rejection, acknowledge it and think of it as redirection towards a better opportunity. That is how you move on.


Rule 2: Learn and Move On


At this stage it is important to contextualise your rejection and understand that it is not a reflection of your abilities. Instead, it is now a learning experience so you should try and understand what you can do better. Ask yourself important, probing questions like whether you really wanted that job? If there is no genuine excitement about the job, the reason you did not make an impression on the recruiters could be because they could see through this. This question will give you some space for self-reflection on the kind of jobs you want to do and the kind of answers that make sense to both you and the interviewer. 

Then, ask yourself if you were prepared adequately. Graduate schemes open applications in October. Most people who eventually bag a job share that they applied to anywhere between 15 to 40 company schemes. Students do this while they are still completing their degree. The workload is immense and it can happen that on a certain day you could not find sufficient time to prepare for the interview or online test or assessment centre. Often, you can become complacent with your preparation on the pretext that you have already given plenty of interviews before. The important part is to stay honest with yourself and get to the root of the problem. 

Sometimes the problem is much more obvious - you might have sent out a generic resume instead of tailoring it to the job in question, while at other times you will be left wondering about which piece of the puzzle contributed to your rejection.


Rule 3: Get a third person’s perspective


It is always a good practice to gain some external perspective on your hiring experience. We would suggest going to a careers advisor at your University to share your experience with them. They will have useful insights on what could have gone wrong for you. Similarly, talking with your peers who have been floating in the same boat  can help too.


Rule 4: Channel all your findings into motivation and convert envy into inspiration


Once you figure out what went wrong, or what it was that could have gone better, motivate yourself to work on that specific bit. 

If there are peers who bagged the job that you didn’t, it is easy to get envious. Rejections will help you build emotional resilience too. At such a time, convert this envy into inspiration and ask them how the next rounds went, gain insights from them and learn from their experiences.


Rule 5: Embrace your strengths


An important thing to know about rejections is that they don’t happen because your profile is inadequate. Often, they happen because the company and the candidate do not seem like a good fit for each other. It is not just that a candidate’s qualifications and skills should justify their selection, but also their aptitude. Does their idea of a working environment match with the organisation’s actual work environment? The hiring managers can often assess this and make decisions of shortlisting on this basis.


The bottom line is that a rejection in the hiring process is never personal; it is strictly a matter of matching the right candidate with the right company. So don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself face-to-face with rejection. Instead, take some actionable steps in the right direction.


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