How to handle job rejection

It’s not easy being a student these days. There’s a lot of pressure in your academic world, and a lot of possible rejection in your job search. Here are some tips for getting through it:

1. Have resumes out for other positions, even while you are waiting to hear back about a job

If you always are checking the job boards, and sending out resumes, chances are you will feel less shaken by any one rejection. If you are hyper-focused on waiting to hear back about one position, it will cause a lot of anxiety. It’s always good to have options.

2. Maintain your friendships and activities outside of school

When I was in law school, one key to my sanity was that I stayed in touch with my friends who were not in law school. I spent time socializing with them. I lived off campus. Whether you live in the dorms, at home, or in an apartment, it’s important to be able to escape the pressure bubble that law school can create. Especially if everyone is asking you, “Hey, have you heard back from that firm yet?”

You don’t actually have to tell everyone about every interview you have lined up. Sometimes it’s less pressure just to keep it to yourself. Tell them about it when you get the offer!

3. Realize that your luck can change for the better overnight

I know that it can take a long time to get an offer. Sometimes the wait can seem endless. But I’ve been amazed at how often someone can go for months without one offer, and then suddenly get two or three offers in the space of one week. Job searching can be weird that way; it’s so unpredictable.

I remember counseling a graduate who had been unemployed for a long time, and was crying in my office. She was so upset. Five days later, she suddenly emailed me with starting salary questions. I was puzzled. It turns out that she had literally bumped into a former professor when she was leaving my office. He recommended her to a lawyer he knew who was hiring, and a few days later she got the offer.

4. Think long-term

When I was telling a friend that I was writing a blog about handling rejection, he relayed a story about how he was devastated when he was rejected by his first choice of graduate school. But then he ended up getting into a great school in another city, meeting his wife, and landing a job.

“I wish I had more faith that things would work out,” he remarked. They did for him. Most likely, they will for you, too.


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, lawyers, and pre-law students. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. For more information, you can reach Hillary at