What to Do If You're Not Successful First Time Round

Charlotte Warrington

It can be a confidence knock when you have been searching for a job and after months you still are not successful. Don't give up! Most people face rejections at some point and, rather than dwelling on them, there are ways to ensure that next time you are more successful.

We have put together this guide to help ensure that your applications are more successful the second (or third or fourth!) time round.

Ask for feedback

If you have reached the interview stage of a job and then been rejected, always ask for feedback. Although some employers may be reluctant to give out feedback or simply not have the time, there are ways to ask politely for feedback, without coming across as defensive. Send the employer a follow up email after being rejected, stating your disappointment at not being chosen and asking for any feedback from the interview if possible. Asking for feedback is valuable because it draws attention to where you went wrong and will help you to improve for any future interviews.

Use connections

Make the most of the connections you have to help you. This could be by reaching out to a more experienced friend or relative who can help by reviewing your application, identifying areas for improvement and helping you to prepare for any interviews. If you are struggling to find places to apply to, do not be afraid to use people you know as leads into a certain career, as they can help put you in touch with the right people. Take advantage of any opportunity you have! Create a LinkedIn profile and get networking (insert networking link). This will help you to build up a network of professional contacts who can guide and advise you on your application.

Gain more experience

It could be that you were not successful because you did not have the right experience. A common reason that recent graduates fail to secure jobs is because they do not have enough relevant experience. In fact, research has found that nearly a third of employers find that their applications are from under-qualified graduates. So, it's worth taking time to broaden your skill set and target it more to the jobs you are applying for. One way you can do this is by taking an online course.

Improve your CV

If you have found that your applications have been unsuccessful, it could be because your CV is not adequate. Studies show that 21% of applications fail because of errors. It's worth double checking your CV for any spelling and grammar mistakes and ensuring that all information is correct. Your CV should also be correctly tailored to the job you are applying for, meaning that the skills and experiences relevant to the job are clearly signalled rather than it being just a generic CV. Ensure that you have linked any experience to the skills that you gained from this, using action words such as ‘organised’ to demonstrate your proactivity. Don't forget about your extracurricular activities here! Volunteering or being a member of an orchestra or sports team will also have helped you gain valuable transferrable skills. 


When you have been unsuccessful, it is tempting to spread yourself more thinly and apply for a large number of jobs, some of which you perhaps are not that interested in. Instead, focus more and invest more time into fewer, more in depth applications. Take time to get the know the companies you are applying for and what attracts you to them. Research has shown that the most common reason employers reject applications is because they are not personalised and tailored to the company. So, instead of sending off 100s of generic applications, take the time to make each application relevant and unique.