“You must treat each application as a new opportunity, not as one more potential disappointment.”

This was a sentence put to me recently by an expert in his industry when explaining how he maintained resilience in a tough market.

It was suggested I speak to him as he was someone I needed to know within a niche industry sector I was exploring.

At the time, he had just started a contract with a reputable government body and was working on challenging cases and achieving a great work/life balance.

Given his great background and previous experience, I presumed he had strolled into this role as he had all the prerequisite skills, contacts and experience – and a great demeanour to match.

I was surprised to learn that he had plenty of unsuccessful applications prior to gaining the job he was in.

With a smile on his face he told me how he couldn’t let the past rejection show when he went for interviews. He said you need to brush them off and treat each application as a brand new opportunity: not as one more potential disappointment.

Easier said than done, obviously! But it got me thinking as it was a powerful message about maintaining resilience while looking for your next role, particularly if you’re not currently employed. Taking a leaf out of his book, I’ve compiled a few key steps to building and maintaining resilience in a tough market.

It’s competitive out there

Rather than be intimidated or disheartened by this fact, take it as an opportunity to stand out from the pack. Join groups on LinkedIn relating to your industry, connect with old colleagues to see what they’re up to, where they’re working and go to as many work events as possible (industry related, run by peak-bodies etc.).

Consider further study; other than ensuring all your role-specific tickets and qualifications are still in date, take some time to reflect on what skill gaps you may have or where you’d like to grow.

Research training providers thoroughly and only commit to studying something that genuinely interests you. A big trap I see candidates fall into is doing a course because they think ‘it’ll look good on the CV’ or that it will guarantee them a job/higher income.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees in life; so if nothing else – doing a course because you want to rather than thinking you have to will be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Take all applications seriously, give them the time they deserve

Tailor each application, make sure all of your details are up-to-date and correct. Don’t just do one CV for every job and send the same cover letter. Tailor it to each particular job and detail exactly why you are suitable for this particular role. Here are a few great articles on how to keep your resume out of the no pile or how to write a CV see this great article.

You’ve made it to the interview stage; now make a great impression

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to interview! Your application has stood out from the pack and now an employer wants to take time out of their busy day to meet with you in person. We know it’s competitive out there, so take a moment and congratulate yourself.

One mistake I see a lot of candidates make is by approaching the interview with the wrong attitude; as another source of disappointment and not as an exciting opportunity.

Don’t let past rejections show

Be careful not to let your apprehension and nerves be misinterpreted as bitterness or negativity. Avoid commenting in generalities such as ‘companies these days are all <something disparaging>’ or ‘most of these places want <something you know you don’t have>’.

Just because you weren’t successful with company X for not having particular experiences or qualifications doesn’t mean company Y won’t have you for the same reason.

I see candidates get hung up on the various reasons they’ve been unsuccessful in getting a position and grow bitter from the experience, which is unfortunate, and counterproductive.

Stop worrying about what could go wrong, and get excited about what could go right.

Take on feedback and keep moving

If you’ve been informed you were unsuccessful for a job there are a few things to keep in mind when asking for feedback.

If you’re dealing with a quality employer you’ll get genuine, useable feedback you can implement. A common one I hear my candidates get frustrated with is that they’re ‘overqualified,’ which is a way of explaining there might not be enough scope in the role to keep you challenged long term.

While this reason can be annoying, understand it’s coming from a place of finding the right person, at the right point in their career, for the right role. Ask for detailed feedback and let the employer know you’d really appreciate their honesty – even if it could sound potentially negative.

When receiving feedback there is only one appropriate response (regardless of whether you agree or not) and that is; THANK YOU.

It’s not productive to argue over feedback; it won’t improve your chances of being reconsidered for that role.

The good news is my contact is still in his fulfilling job, gaining more experience and skills to keep relevant for the changing job market – and acting as an inspiration for jobseekers along the way!

Ashleigh McKenzie is a Senior Consultant in Davidson Trades

* Davidson Trades is no longer part of the Davidson Group. For more information please contact the Davidson Projects & Operations team.