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Developing Resilience and Dealing with Rejection

  April 24, 2017   

By Morag Fraser, Student Connections Facilitator at the University of St. Andrews

That word is a bit of a trending topic in itself at the moment. The world of work goes through spates of buzzwords and themes, usually driven by whichever smarty pants PR consultant has had the ear of an executive. But this one is genuinely helpful both to you as an individual and to employers.

Resilience might mean various things to different individuals, which is both a great thing and something terribly vague. When you enter the graduate recruitment process as someone with a disability or a long-term health condition, you are striving for normalcy, to be treated just as your colleagues around you. As a result you can place a great deal of pressure on yourself little realising the cost to yourself emotionally, physically and intellectually. When it comes to job applications we also become extremely attached to the process and it is so easy to fall into the trap that comes with rejection emails. Your heart sinks and with it goes your confidence as you read ’Thank you for your application, but…’, and this is when you even hear back at all. With so many people applying for each opportunity, the reality is that employers can’t always get back to you.

I think that when completing an application, you should always apply with a sense of distance, creating degrees of separation from the whole process. Instead of throwing ALL of you into an application, you can be better served by thinking of yourself as a product/principle you are speaking up for. No one can tell your story but you, but you need to catch the eye and ear of hiring managers by sharing the things that make you, you. A neat way of sounding out an application is to record yourself reading it out. Listen to it like you would a podcast or TedTalk. How’s it sounding? Try imagining someone you admire reading it out.

When you get those “Thank you buts” it is tough, and there will be quite a few, but there are things you should remember:

  1. It’s not about you, it’s about the job. A ‘no’ doesn’t mean you’re no good by any means. Don’t assume that your disability has held you back, instead ask the recruiter to provide you with feedback that you can use to help you with future applications.
  2. When completing applications inform the employer as early as possible about your disability. This will enable them to provide any support and adjustments you require and put you on a level playing field with other candidates.
  3. Visit your careers service, or Student Support service. Talk through any concerns or questions you have relating to applications, speaking to someone who can offer guidance will not only make you feel better, but will help you discover how to turn that ‘Thank you but…’into a ‘We are delighted to invite you…’
  4. Remember ‘What’s for you will not go by you’; a good Scottish phrase, but apt. You might be one of hundreds applying, but for every role you apply to there are another 20, 30, 40+ others that you could take another swing at. What’s more, the more applications you do, the better you will get at communicating your strengths.


What’s important, though exhausting and very difficult, is to keep moving. Any application can go one of 2 ways, like when you plant something in a garden. It will grow and thrive, or it won’t. Simple, really. This is what resilience is to me, and what I hope comes to you in time.

These stories are tagged with: strengths strengths application advice application advice Career Services Career Services