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On the Rebound: Dealing with Rejection

Updated: Mar 29

Applying for a job is stressful work! Now more than ever, the pressure to find legal work is extremely high, particularly if you’re also worried about your financial position. If you’re opening up your emails to find yet another email letting you know you didn’t get the job (or worse, ghosted completely) you’re not alone. Rejection is part of the Law School experience – just think of it as character building! You spend all that time perfecting your application, your interview style and your outfit only to be pipped at the post. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason, our time will come!

It’s a Learning Experience

There’s always a silver lining… learn from your experiences so you can come back bigger and better the next time. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your application or interview. Knowing what the process entails means that next time it won’t be so scary. Think about the questions that you were asked (I keep a tab in my notes) so that you can use them to practice for your next interview. It might also be time for you to review your CV, Cover Letter, LinkedIn and social media presence if you are finding yourself in an unsuccessful rut. Now might be a good time to schedule an appointment with the Careers Service!

Que Sera Sera…

…whatever will be, will be. You need to remember that sometimes things are out of your control. There can be lots of reasons why you may not have been selected for a position that have nothing to do with you or your abilities. Perhaps the firm decided to move in a different direction, the job might have been placed on hold or is no longer needed, or maybe an internal candidate was promoted to the position? Finding a legal job is all about being in the right place at the right time; who you know, not what you know… be patient – your right time will come! Things happen for a reason!

Let’s Get Flexible

Getting a legal job is challenging, and can take a long time. Maybe it might be time for you to adjust your idea of success. Clerkships and Graduate Program positions are hot commodities, with hundreds of law students all vying for limited places, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get one of these coveted positions. There are still plenty of opportunities out there! Broadening your job search horizons might be what you need to do to get your foot in the door. Be flexible and take up opportunities that come your way… you might not start in your dream role, but you can get there in no time!

It’s Brutal Out There

Particularly in the later years of your degree, it is likely that you will be applying for the same positions as your friends and peers. As difficult as it may be, try not to compare yourself to others (and definitely don’t tear down their successes!). It’s easy to let the green-eyed monster take over, but remember, behind each success story there are countless rejections and learning experiences (that don’t get posted to social media). Congratulate others for their achievements – your time will come! You never know, they might be able to give you some interview tips or recommend you for other positions.

Leave the Door Open

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” – The Sound of Music

The great thing about opportunities – there are always more out there! If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Just because you weren’t the best candidate this time around, doesn’t mean that every door is closed. If you missed out on an opportunity with a firm that you were really passionate about, leave the door open! Take any feedback you can get so you can be even more prepared if another position opens up in the future. If you’re really keen you can even ask your interviewer to keep you in mind for other positions, or ask if there are any other opportunities right now. Make sure to be kind and courteous, and to thank them for taking the time to consider your application.

Build Up Your Resume

If you can’t get your dream job right now, that’s okay! Take the time to build up your resume with experiences and skills that future employers will be able to recognise. Why not look into that online short course or qualification that you were considering? Now is the time to enter that essay writing competition, or finally try your hand at mooting! It’s also important to remember there is such thing as transferable skills. In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up if you work in a different industry; administrative, hospitality and retail jobs can all teach us a thing or two!

Celebrate Your Achievements

Our brains can tend to focus on the negative and ruminate on what we could have done things differently (well at least mine does!). The moments immediately after receiving a rejection letter or phone call can be disheartening. Keep in mind that the odds are stacked against you, so it’s important to focus on all your little victories and celebrate them! It’s exciting when you hear back from a company or progress to the next stage. It’s even good to have a laugh when you completely tank the psychometric testing! If you make it to the top 20 of 300 candidates – that’s a fantastic achievement! Don’t worry that you didn’t get the position! And if you need to take some time to distract yourself after missing out on an opportunity, that’s fine too – you’ll get back on the horse eventually. Remember – you only need one job!

Sometimes you might even be let down easy… earlier this year I applied for a Tipstaff position in the Supreme Court. Although I did not get the job, I did get a personalised letter from his Honour and it honestly made my week! I told everyone! Alicia


About the Author

Alicia is studying her fifth year of a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts (Applied Psychology). In addition to her position on the NDSLS as Education Director, Alicia has a passion for reading, rules, and roses. #law #studentlife #handlingrejection #legaljob #ontherebound #resilience #uni #NotreDameAus #NotreDameSyd #ndsls #lawstudent #lawschool

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