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Placement Rejections; It's Not You, It's...

By Imogen Lloyd on Tue 28 February 2023 in Placement Blog

Placement applications are becoming increasingly competitive and, as a result, you might rarely come by success. If you're struggling to sustain the motivation to continue amongst the rejections, read Imogen's top tips for finding your feet again and persevering until the end.

Any student who's experienced the rollercoaster that is second year of university knows the damaging feeling that comes with placement rejections. Although these rejections can feel like the end of the road, it’s the mindset you adopt after these setbacks that ultimately determines whether you reach your eventual success. With a negative attitude, you might see these setbacks as time and effort wasted and as an incentive to give up altogether. However, with this mindset, it will be nearly impossible to achieve your desired goals of securing a placement, and it’s more worthwhile to use these rejections to your advantage. There are countless ways to put a positive spin on the inevitable rejections and, in the end, it’s the recovery that counts. 

Naturally, it’s difficult to recuperate after your first rejection but, by following these tips, you’ve got a fighting chance going forward.

Pick yourself up
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the rejection is nothing personal - it just means that either your application needs some work, or you weren’t an ideal fit for that company. This doesn’t mean that you should stop applying for positions with the same job title or you need to completely re-evaluate your approach to applications, it might be the case that the company culture wouldn’t be right for you or that there were other candidates they thought would be better suited to the role. While it’s much easier said than done, picking yourself up doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting about the rejection indefinitely. Consider this rejection a learning curve and an opportunity to request feedback, then use this feedback to improve on your application. 

Refine your application
A common mistake students make during their placement search is just submitting the same CV and cover letter to multiple opportunities, churning out application after application. However, if you find you seldom run into success using this method, see this as an opportunity to concentrate your placement search to roles you have thoroughly researched and feel are a great fit for your personality and skillset. Ultimately, refining your search and focusing on tailoring your application to the roles you’re genuinely passionate about will make the entire application process more worthwhile.

Thoroughly read the job descriptions of roles you’re applying for and try to embed the requirements in your CV. Adjust your cover letter to demonstrate the skills the company is looking for, and try to exhibit all of the research you’ve done; whether that’s reading the company website or engaging with their social media platforms. If you were rejected at an interview stage, note down the questions you were asked and how you answered them, and revise your answers as best you can. There are so many avenues to explore by refining your placement search that allow you to dedicate more time to the applications you hope will bear fruit.

Utilise the resources around you
Once you’ve taken time to reflect upon your approach, it’s now time to enhance it with the plethora of resources you have at your fingertips whilst at university. Not only are there endless blogs and articles just like this that help students achieve their goals, your university will more than likely offer support to students just like you who want to produce an exemplary application. Career Officers at your university will have years of experience reviewing CVs as well as giving advice for interviews and assessment centres. Being resourceful and taking the initiative to leverage these assets will be invaluable to your placement search and can greatly improve your success after the initial rejection.

It may feel disheartening to receive rejections, but I can honestly speak from first-hand experience that these are nearly impossible to avoid. If you’re able to pick yourself back up, evaluate your application technique, and take the initiative to use the resources available to you, there’s absolutely no reason to give up on your placement search when you’ve already made it this far. With perseverance, there’s no doubt that you’ll come by a placement role that feels like it was made for you!

Each application you submit is great experience and an opportunity to build upon your employability skills. To explore the roles we have to offer, head over to our placement website and, if you're looking for more ways to improve your applications, check out our Placement Application Starter Kit!

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