It’s easy to start the job search. However, as you experience knockbacks, no contact or attend interview after interview, momentum can quickly give way to exhaustion. This makes it all too easy to get discouraged and settle for a less than ideal role.

If you’re gearing up to make a career move, you need to learn how to overcome setbacks and keep going. We look at some of the most common setbacks that occur during the job search and share some tips to help you bounce back so you can land your ideal role. 

Setback #1: You applied for a role you were qualified for, but got rejected

This is one of the most common setbacks job seekers encounter. You were fully qualified for a position advertised on job search sites or by the company directly. You wrote a killer cover letter and listed your top achievements in your CV, and maybe even had strong referrals from your network. 

However, despite checking all the boxes, you still don’t get a call back. In some cases, you might not even get a response. This leaves you asking, “What went wrong?”

How to overcome it: It’s tough not to take it personally. But remember there are a lot of factors that come into play. The position may have been earmarked for an internal hire, or your resume might have simply gotten lost in the ether.

Ensure you have done your best to stand out with your resume and cover letter, and follow up on your application – many companies continue to share that they hardly receive follow-up so doing so will allow you to stand out to the hiring manager. If you don’t hear back after two follow-ups, move on and try not to take it personally.

Setback #2: The starting salary is too low, or not negotiable

We’ve all had it happen. You read through a job description, go to an interview, click with the team, and leave in high spirits. It all sounds perfect — until you get to the salary.

If a company advertises job vacancies with a starting salary that’s significantly under your expectations, this should set off warning bells. It could be that the position you’re applying for is more junior than you expected, or you may get less autonomy than you would like.

How to overcome it: Discuss the salary range at the beginning of the recruitment process. This ensures you’re not wasting your efforts preparing for a job that can’t meet your expectations.

Setback #3: The job you want doesn’t exist at the company you want to work for

You’ve got your eye on a certain employer and would love to work for them. However, the job you’re qualified for (or looking for) doesn’t exist within the organisation at all. Perhaps it hasn’t been created yet, or they simply don’t know they need this position in their company.

How to overcome it: Don’t limit your search to advertised jobs in. Reach out to the company, pitch your experience and skills, and try to design your own position instead.

Focus on demonstrating to key decision-makers that you’ll add value (and tangible ROI) to the company. Do your research on the company, industry trends, and craft a stellar cover letter that shows how hiring you will pay off in spades down the line.

Setback #4: The job description isn’t quite aligned with your goals

It’s important to have a clear idea of the type of opportunity you’re after, the employers you’d like to work for, and the scope of your ideal role. But in many cases, your expectations or goals don’t quite line up with what’s outlined in the job description. It could be that the advertised role doesn’t cover the roles or responsibilities you’re eager to develop, or overlooks an area you’re interested in.

How to overcome it: Just because a key element is missing, it doesn’t mean you should write-off the position straight away. Many hiring managers are open to tailoring a job scope to suit the candidate, particularly if they’re a good cultural fit and have the right skills.

Share your career goals and ask if there are opportunities to explore this within the current job scope, or in the future. The old adage is on point here: ask, and you may well receive.

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